A mini guide for students living in Edinburgh

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American student Chris shares his mini guide on the essential know-how's of being a student in Edinburgh.

A quick introduction to the cost of living in Edinburgh

One thing students always want to know is how much it costs to live in Edinburgh. Of course, the answer varies depending on your situation, but there are ways of figuring out a rough estimate. Here are my two cents!


Coming from Minneapolis, MN, I was used to having to drive everywhere to get the weekly shopping done. This is not the case in Edinburgh. Depending on the store you choose, you may be able to walk down the street or just around the corner to get your groceries. My wife and I are pretty frugal, so we hop on a bus once a week to get our main shopping done at Aldi.

If you want to stretch your pounds as far as they will go, shopping at Lidl or Aldi is the way to go. Everyone’s tastes and food requirements are different so you may find yourself at Sainsbury’s or Tesco or Asda or Waitrose or Co-op or…there's too much to choose from!

The Edinburgh Napier Student Association (ENSA) Advice Guide suggests budgeting £130 per month for food per person. I’d say that in my experience, that’s about right.


As a postgraduate student, you generally have to rent private housing, which is not affiliated with the University. The cost to let or rent an entire 1-bedroom flat starts at about £500 per month for something further out from the city centre. In Edinburgh, studio apartments are less common. Reasonable 1 or 2 bedroom flats can be found closer to the city centre for £700-£800 per month. If you are looking to let a room on its own, you can let one starting at about £325 per month with utilities included.

For more information on accommodation in Edinburgh, visit the Edinburgh Napier University accommodation page.

Heating and electricity

If you are renting a flat, you’ll generally need to pay for gas central heating or electric heating in addition to electricity. Gas central heating is less expensive than electric heating, so be sure to check property listings to see what kind of heating the flat has. The cost of heating and electricity fluctuates depending on the time of year. There is little need for electric lighting in summer when the sun sets at 10pm. Conversely, you may need to turn on your central heating more in winter depending on what floor your flat is on.

In a recent, highly-unscientific study, a postgraduate student in Edinburgh (who may have been me), paid about £50 per month on gas central heating and electricity and that was with the worst winter in Edinburgh in seven years!

Broadband and mobile

Broadband internet can be purchased for as little as £17 per month. Of course, this is with a contract that locks you in for 12 or 18 months and at the end of it, the price usually goes up.

Check out Broadband Genie for a broadband price and contract comparisons.

You can get a mobile contract with any of the big providers, but really, as a student, giffgaff is the way to go. With giffgaff you can pay as little as £5 per month for 100 MB of data, 150 minutes, and 500 texts or up to £20 for practically unlimited data, unlimited minutes, and unlimited texts.


While Edinburgh is very walkable, sometimes you need transport for bringing home your weekly shop, getting to and from campus or work, or exploring the city. Luckily, Edinburgh has amazing public transport. The Lothian Buses Ridacard offers unlimited bus travel in the city for as little as £42 per month if you set up a monthly direct debit.

Check out Lothian Buses for more information about public transportation, Ridacards, and other ways to pay for bus fares

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