5 Best Affordable Cities for Students

5 Best Affordable Cities for Students

1. Taipei
Ranked 25th overall in the QS Best Student Cities 2015, the Taiwanese capital owes its strong affordability rating to relatively low international tuition fees (an average of US$3,800 at its eight internationally ranked universities), combined with reasonably low living costs. Ranked 61st out of 214 cities in Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey (#1 being the highest cost), Taipei is still not exactly the cheapest place on Earth to live – but if you want world-class universities and an exciting urban playground, this is a pretty good deal!
2. Mexico City
Sharing the top spot with Taipei is Mexico’s huge and fascinating capital, which claims the final place in this year’s top 50 student cities overall. Like Taipei, it has eight internationally ranked universities, at which fees for international students are just a little higher – an average of US$4,000 annually. However, overall living costs are likely to be a little lower, especially when accommodation is considered. Mexico City comes 150th in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey, 89 places lower than its East Asian counterpart.
3. Berlin
Germany is one of the world’s most popular study destinations – now hosting more international students than any nation other than the US and UK – so it may be surprising to find its trendy federal capital listed among the most affordable cities for students. However, as across the rest of Germany, public universities in Berlin offer education free of charge, for both local and international students. Berlin’s general cost of living is also much lower than you might expect; at 68th in the Mercer survey, it’s well below most other Western European capitals.
4. Vienna
Tied with Berlin is the culturally rich capital of Germany’s south-eastern neighbor Austria. Higher education in Austria is free for EU students, with very modest fees charged to those from non-EU countries. Based on the two internationally ranked universities in Vienna, you can expect to pay around US$500 per year. Living costs are a little higher – Vienna comes 32nd out of 214 in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey – but still lower than in many of the world’s other top student cities. For a snapshot of daily costs, The Economist’s Big Mac Index puts the cost of a Big Mac at US$4.56 in Vienna, compared to $5.25 in Paris, for instance.
5. Munich
A second highly attractive choice for those keen to study in Germany, Munich again offers the added bonus of higher education minus the tuition fees. Compared to Berlin, local living costs are likely to be a little higher in this affluent Bavarian hub of finance, football and the world-famous beer festival, Oktoberfest. But thanks to the absence of fees, Munich is still well up there among the most affordable cities for students – as well as being one of the most happening places to study in Germany.