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Cost of Living in Birmingham: A Guide for Students

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Reem Mohamed

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21 September, 2023

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8 mins read

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As one of the UK’s major cities, Birmingham has the second-most populous metropolitan area in the country after London. The city is known for its rich history and cultural heritage and for having been an industrial hub since the 18th century. Currently, Birmingham is a leading city in retail and trade, being one of England’s most visited shopping destinations. The city also boosts vibrancy and hosts over 50 different festivals each year, including the Birmingham International Jazz Festival.

Known as a student city, Birmingham has been gaining traction among both local and international students. The city is home to a number of top-ranked universities, esteemed specialised colleges, and world-renowned learning institutions that offer high-quality education in a variety of different fields and disciplines. Additionally, the city has a vibrant student life and is accessible, affordable, and inclusive, thus allowing students to thrive in the city. 

If Birmingham is on your radar as a potential place to live and pursue your higher education, then this guide covering everything about the Birmingham cost of living is for you! Read on and let us explore your expenses in the city!

Birmingham cost

Birmingham Cost of Living

The cost of living in Birmingham for international students is approximately £1,350–£1,400 per month. This amount is set to cover a variety of different expenses, including student accommodation, rent, food, groceries, utilities, transportation, and entertainment, among others. This estimate doesn’t, however, account for tuition fees or any additional study fees. Here is a breakdown of the Birmingham cost of living for you to consider when budgeting for your stay!

Tuition Fees for International Students in Birmingham

Birmingham is home to a number of universities, including the University of Birmingham, University College Birmingham, Birmingham City University, Aston University, and Newman University. The average tuition fees for international students for undergraduate programmes, postgraduate taught programmes, and postgraduate research programmes range from £13,000 to £46,000 per academic year. There are, however, international scholarships, bursaries, and financial aid programmes to help you pay for your studies in the city.

Transportation Fees in Birmingham

When it comes to modes of transportation in Birmingham for students, there are several options available to get around the city with ease and affordability. Here are some of the most useful ones and how much they factor into the overall Birmingham cost of living!

Birmingham cost


Birmingham has an extensive bus network operated by National Express West Midlands, offering a reliable and affordable mode of transportation. The buses serve various routes across the city, including major universities and student areas. Students can benefit from discounted fares and student bus passes, making it a popular choice for daily commuting. The average bus ride in the city costs around £2.40, while the monthly pass costs around £55. 


Taking a cab to get around Birmingham is also a viable option in the city. There are several kinds of taxis you can hail in the city of Birmingham, and their costs start from around £1.12 to £15.60.


If you have a car during your study period in Birmingham, you are expected to pay around £1.58 for a litre of gasoline.

Student Accommodation Rent

Students in Birmingham can choose to live in either an on-campus or off-campus student accommodation facility. Both accommodation options have different price ranges, with on-campus accommodation being on the cheaper side. If you choose to live on the campus of your university or college of choice, you’re expected to pay a monthly average of £100–£250. As for off-campus accommodation options, including both PBSAs (Purpose-Built Student Accommodation) and private properties, the prices average around a monthly fee of £400–£800.

Birmingham cost

Monthly Utilities

One of the important items to budget for when considering the cost of living in Birmingham is utility bills. Utility bills include basic ones for your apartment or accommodation of choice as well as mobile and internet bills. Basic utility bills that cover electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage average around £210 per month. Mobile monthly plans are about £16.33, while the monthly internet bill is an estimate of £26.84.

Groceries in Birmingham

Grocery shopping in the city costs around £150–£200 of the total cost of living in Birmingham for international students. Here is a breakdown of some grocery products as well as some personal care products and their prices in grocery stores in Birmingham. 

  • 1 litre of whole-fat milk: £1.05

  • 1 kg Chicken fillets: £5.45

  • 12 large eggs: £2.19

  • 1 kg of local cheese: £6.31

  • Loaf of fresh white bread: £1.08

  • 1 kg of potatoes: £1.27

  • 1 kg of apples: £1.77

  • 0.33 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.52

  • 50 ml deodorant: £1.98

  • 400 ml shampoo: £3.13

  • 4 rolls of toilet paper: £1.76

  • Tube of toothpaste: £1.76

Sports and Entertainment in Birmingham

Birmingham has a bustling student life full of energy and entertainment. You can spend your time engrossed in a variety of different activities across the city. You can go to a museum, enjoy a quiet picnic in a park, go sightseeing, head to the movies with friends, or even stop by a bar or an arcade on a night off! 

The average cost of a movie ticket in Birmingham accounts for around £10 of the total Birmingham cost of Living. A theatre ticket costs around £45, a drink at a downtown club totals about £8, and a beer falls under £4.16. As for sports and staying active, the monthly fee at a fitness club is around £27.31.

Grabbing a Bite in Birmingham

On a busy student schedule, you might find yourself depending on takeout or just grabbing a meal from a nearby restaurant on your way to or from university. This is perfectly understandable; not all of us have the time to cook or meal prep in advance, and Birmingham is certainly tempting in the food department! The average cost of a meal at a fast food restaurant is around £6, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant is £12, and a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant is around £50. Grabbing a regular cappuccino for a caffeine fix costs just under £3. For more, check out our guide to food in Birmingham.

Revamping Your Wardrobe

As a renowned shopping destination, it is hard to resist the stores in Birmingham, so we understand that a part of your monthly budget will naturally be allocated towards shopping, specifically for clothes. An average pair of jeans in the city costs around £62; a pair of running or sports shoes falls at £70; and a summer dress from a retail chain store costs around £27.

How to Live on a Budget in Birmingham

The Birmingham cost of living may not be all that high; however, saving money and living on a budget still come in handy, especially for students. Before you jump to conclusions, living on a budget does not necessarily mean depriving yourself of necessities or even the things you consider luxuries or small indulgences; on the contrary, living on a budget allows you to live comfortably and save money to buy whatever you need at the same time. Knowing the details of the cost of living in Birmingham, let’s talk about budgeting!

Set a Detailed Plan Ahead of Time

Making a plan, or, in other words, setting a budget, for a specific period of time is a great first step to learning how to manage your money better. A budget or a detailed plan that includes all the expenses you expect to pay over an estimated time period helps you manage and track your spending activity, which not only helps you save money but also allows you to have enough leftover money to treat yourself! A useful tip would be to download a budgeting app or invest in a budgeting journal to make the process less like a chore and more enjoyable!

Birmingham cost

Travel Environmentally and Economically

The greener you travel, the more you contribute positively to the environment, and the more money you save in the process! While buying monthly tickets or investing in public transport cards like the SmartRider card will save you money, travelling green will save you even more! Cycling or walking to your university or simply running errands is an ideal transportation method for when you want to spare some cash!


Birmingham is a city that has been actively promoting cycling as a green and sustainable mode of transportation. The city provides dedicated cycle lanes, bike-sharing schemes, and secure cycle parking facilities.


Many students find walking a convenient and enjoyable way to get around the city, especially if they live within a short distance of their university. The city offers pedestrian-friendly routes, well-maintained sidewalks, and pedestrian crossings, making it safe and accessible for anyone who prefers walking as a mode of transportation.

Try Healthier Shopping Habits

Grocery and clothing shopping make up a big chunk of the overall Birmingham cost of living, and, in turn, your budget. This is why it’s always essential to find more ways to shop smart and savvy. Smart or healthy shopping can be done in many ways, including shopping in bulk, shopping at stores that offer student discounts, buying secondhand items, buying store-brand items instead of spending more on brand names, visiting the local markets, and planning your shopping trips around the holidays when discounts are at their peak.

Prepare Your Food at Home

As you grow older, you understand how making food at home is actually the better choice! The temptation to grab food on the way to or from university is understandable, especially on a student's schedule. However, saving money, time, and energy by cooking food at home or meal prepping for the week or the month is more tempting in our book! All you need to do is go on a weekend trip to the grocery store, and then you cook easy meals that can be reheated and had at any time throughout the week. It saves you takeout money on days when you don’t have time to cook, and you always have a ready meal in the fridge! And if you have leftover money from your budgeting plan at the end of the month, you can treat yourself to a meal out!

Find Yourself a Job

This is yet another step that might seem challenging for you as a student with academic duties and deadlines. However, having a job secures you more benefits than you can think of! Not only will you have a somewhat stable income to help with your monthly bills, but you will also gain experience, make connections, and improve your overall skills.  

You can choose to work an on-campus job, as it saves you time, money, and energy that you would’ve otherwise spent on the commute to and from work. On-campus jobs include those of a receptionist, a tutor, a librarian, or an assistant. You can also choose to work an off-campus job like a barista or a server. Birmingham has plenty of part-time jobs for you to consider. And, in the event that you don’t have the time to go somewhere and work, you might want to check out these earning apps for students!

Birmingham cost

Find Cheap Student Accommodation

Cheap is not synonymous with bad; that’s rule number one! There are plenty of options for affordable student accommodation in Birmingham that save you money while allowing you to live comfortably! As a student accommodation marketplace, Casita has plenty of options for cheap student accommodation in Birmingham that is close to your university of choice and also offers all-inclusive utility bills, so you have one less item to worry about when setting a monthly budget!

Do Not Forget Those Student Discounts

An important and often overlooked perk of being a student is access to an unlimited number of student discounts. Your student ID card is your ticket to free or discounted items, trips, and so much more while studying in Birmingham. You can get discounts on food, drinks, clothes, groceries, books, transportation, and university supplies, among other things that would’ve otherwise left a dent in your bank account. So, make the most of your student discounts and reap all the benefits you can!

Birmingham is one of the UK’s most student-friendly cities. Not only is it a city of history and culture, but it also boasts a modernity that attracts many. Birmingham houses a wide range of universities, colleges, and higher education institutions that make it a renowned educational destination to which people flock to enjoy a high quality of education as well as a vibrant student life and an affordable, good quality of life. So, what are you waiting for? Start working on your budget and head to Birmingham!


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Frequently Asked Questions:

Is it expensive to live in Birmingham?

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Birmingham is a relatively affordable city to live in; the Birmingham cost of living is well below the London one, making it a better option for students.

Is it cheaper to live in Birmingham than London?

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Yes, Birmingham is way cheaper than London. You would need far less every month to survive in Birmingham than you would in London.

Is Birmingham city good for students?

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Birmingham is a great city for students! With a large student population and plenty of top-ranked universities and institutions, Birmingham is the ideal student city for many.

How is Birmingham to live for international students?

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Birmingham is one of the largest cities in the United Kingdom, with a culturally diverse population that makes for an inclusive and welcoming environment for international students.

Where do most students live in Birmingham?

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Birmingham has plenty of areas for students to live in, including the City Centre, Hockley and Hamstead, Selly Oak, Moseley, and Harborne.