The Cheapest Cities in the World for Students

Studying abroad can be an amazing experience, giving students the opportunity to experience another culture and meet new people, all whilst studying for their qualification. But living and studying overseas won’t be much fun if you struggle to pay rent or pay for day-to-day life. So, what cities in the world are more affordable for students?

We looked at the QS Best Student Cities to find the five cheapest cities for students. We then delved deeper into each city to see what makes them so affordable for students and what else they can offer, from the culture and the climate to the people and the entertainment.

1.    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur has five universities that have featured in the 2022 QS World University Rankings and is hugely popular with international students, thanks to its vibrant lifestyle, good healthcare, and low cost of living. Tuition fees are relatively cheap, averaging around US$2,500 a year for international students. Accommodation is also quite cheap, as are general living costs like food and entertainment.

The city has a rich history and there’s plenty to do, like exploring traditional neighbourhoods and bustling nightlife. The local food is influenced by a range of Asian cuisines, including India, China, Thailand, and the Middle East. It’s often rich in herbs and spices and can be quite spicy. Whilst many student accommodation has shared kitchens, there are plenty of affordable restaurants and food courts available too.

2.    Kazan, Russia

Kazan is a creative city and world-class academic centre, it is home to Kazan Federal University, the second oldest university in Russia and featuring in the top 80 universities in the world for engineering. Whilst Kazan can get cold in the winter months – the average temperature is -13C in January – it’s relatively warm in the summer, reaching highs of +20C.

Kazan has plenty of rich cultural events for entertainment, like the opera and ballet festivals which are held every year, music festivals and even Cirque du Soleil which regularly visits the city. Students will need around US$200 to US$300 for basic living expenses each month, with groceries costing around US$28 a week and theatre and movie tickets costing around US$2.00 each.

3.    Novosibirsk, Russia

Novosibirsk is widely considered to be Russia’s scientific hub and is the third-largest city in the country. The average cost of tuition is around US$2,000 for international students. The cost of living is also low, with students needing around US$470 for living expenses plus a further US$327 for rent every month.

Students will be treated to beautiful landscapes, with mountains and woodland in the surrounding area. There are plenty of Tsar-era architecture and cultural venues, like the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre and many galleries and museums. There’s also the Novosibirsk Zoo, which is popular for scientific research and also as a tourist attraction.

4.    Athens, Greece

Athens, the capital city of Greece, has three universities that feature in the QS World University Rankings 2022. It has a long history, being the birthplace of democracy, but is in no way stuck in the past. It is now a lively modern city with a large international community. Tuition fees and living costs are relatively cheap, with a city-centre apartment costing around US$470 a month. Tuition fees cost around US$1,700 to US$2,300 per year.

Athens has plenty to see and do, with two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the iconic Acropolis. The locals are renowned for being friendly and the city offers a vibrant nightlife when cafes turn into bars. Greek cuisine includes fresh food like local olives, moussaka, feta cheese, and fresh fish.

5.    Johannesburg, South Africa

Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and is the country’s economic and commercial centre. The country has 11 official languages and university courses are usually taught in English. Two of the best universities in the country are in Johannesburg, both of which rank in the top 450 universities in the world. Tuition fees cost around US$4,200 per year. The cost of living is also relatively cheap, with a student needing around US$664 per month plus US$465 in rent in the city centre.

Johannesburg has warm weather all year round, with an average temperature of 21C. There’s lots to see and do, with festivals and concerts held around the city, as well as markets for shopping, and galleries and museums for perusing. The city has beautiful landscapes and nature reserves close by, like Lion Park.

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