The real cost of living in Manchester

We wanted to learn more about the real cost of living in Manchester as a university student. We headed to Instagram and asked our student community to share their thoughts on life in Manchester, from budgeting top tips to the typical weekly food shop.

We asked students following our Instagram six simple questions, and here’s what they had to say.

Is Manchester an expensive city to live in?

Brunswick Park

Student-friendly city

It’s pretty apparent from the moment you arrive in Manchester that this city is extremely student-friendly. With more than 100,000 students enrolled across the region’s five universities, you’ll easily find a multitude of money-saving deals made specifically for students.

  • Manchester ranks officially as one of the cheapest student cities and my own experience confirms this!
  • It's pretty cheap, it's very much a student city and the costs reflect that.

Big city living, without the London price tag

Manchester is one of the largest cities in the UK, meaning there’s always something here to suit every budget. Manchester has even been named the UK’s most affordable city for students in 2020.

And while some people may think capital-living will give them more opportunity, one thing’s for sure  students in Manchester feel like they’re spending less to achieve a similar lifestyle as students in London.

  • It definitely is less expensive than most big cities in the UK, like London.
  • I came from London, and it's so cheap here in comparison!
  • It is as expensive as the average European city, and by far cheaper than other UK cities.

How much do you typically spend on food each week?

Bowl of food


The general consensus among our students is that £30 on groceries should be enough to see you through the week. Don’t forget to add on a little more to this budget if you’re wanting to get a cheeky takeaway.

Budget supermarkets make a difference

We’re not surprised to see some of our highstreets top budget supermarkets being mentioned by our students. Looking out for multibuy deals or staking out the reduced section are also great ways to save on your food bill. If you live with housemates, why not see if they’re willing to cook together and save further on grocery bills?

  • It's best to shop at cheap stores such as Aldi or Lidl.
  • Try to be aware of all the deals that supermarkets offer.
  • Buy the groceries with your housemates and cook together!

How much do you budget weekly for clothes, products and entertainment?

Shop in Manchester

£30 is the sweet spot

If you’re set on budgeting for additional costs like visits to restaurants and nights out in Manchester, then £30 a week seems to be an average everyone agrees on. Make sure to create a budget that suits your lifestyle and is within your limits. Don’t forget that Netflix subscription.

  • I allow myself the same amount as my food shop, but I don't particularly believe in budgeting yourself too strictly as you deserve to be happy, just don't go overboard obviously!
  • This is usually the majority of the budget, anywhere up to £40 a week if there's a night out.
  • Netflix is a must!

Where is your favourite place in Manchester if you’re on a budget?

Manchester Museum

Take in the views

There’s more to Manchester than just the city centre. From picturesque canal-side walks to Heaton Park and free art galleries, our students know that sometimes some of the best things in life are, in fact, free. 

  • All the parks offer a beautiful place to spend more time without paying anything.
  • The Whitworth has free music events on Sundays.
  • I just walk around the city trying to get lost  it's the best way of finding wonderful hidden spots!

Curry Mile

If you’re in search of a meal that won’t break the bank, then Rusholme’s famous Curry Mile is just the ticket.

  • Curry Mile has all sorts of food for a cheap lunch!
  • For food – Curry Mile.

Any other money saving tips?

From setting yourself a weekly budget to never shopping on an empty stomach, our students have some great pearls of wisdom to share when it comes to saving money. Here are some of our favourite additional tips to help you prepare for student life:

  • Take a pre-made lunch to avoid overspending each day.
  • Never go grocery shopping when you're hungry.
  • If you're travelling to campus by bus, consider a bus pass to save on fares!
  • Make a budget plan. It helps you keep track of your spending.
  • Do a weekly list of things you need and your budget for that week so you don't overspend.
  • Limit your coffee intake when out and about, it's an expensive habit.
  • You can get a decent haircut for £6 inside the SU.