Student accommodation costs the most in three cities in the United States

Living and studying costs for students are highest in the United States with Boston, New York and San Francisco the three most expensive cities for international students, new research shows.

It costs more than $5,500 a month, 20% more than the next dearest city, for students in these three American cities, according to the World Student Housing report from international real estate firm Savills.

In fourth place is Sydney which has taken fourth place for the first time, replacing London, with a monthly cost of $4,700, mainly due to a strengthening Aussie dollar. London is slightly lower at $4,600 a month.

The analysis, using data supplied by, says that fluctuations in the value of sterling has made London cheaper for students studying from abroad.

Some of the cheapest options are in Europe with many cities standing out for their affordability. Prague, Berlin, Vienna and Warsaw are the cheapest cities in which to study, on par with Shanghai.

Indeed, tuition costs in these cities are minimal, accommodation costs are half the average of the 20 cities examined, while quality is improving thanks to increasing amounts of purpose-built student housing being developed.

The rapid growth in international student numbers has underpinned demand for high quality student housing across the globe, but the type of product they want varies by region, the report points out.

Students from the Middle East and China typically take the longest tenancies, 90% and 87% respectively for a full academic year, which may increase accommodation costs for students from these regions, while those from the US and Asia Pacific, including Australia, are most likely to rent for shorter periods.

When it comes to room type preferences, there is relative uniformity across the globe. Students from the Middle East are slightly more likely to rent an entire property or studio, however, echoing their typically larger average budgets.

‘The optimum ratio for student housing varies not only by country, but by town or city. Many universities supply their own accommodation, but lack the funds or expertise to upgrade this to modern standards,’ said Marcus Roberts, director in the Residential Capital Markets team at Savills.

He pointed out that this has increased demand for private sector funded student accommodation. This type of housing typically ticks the boxes with students, particularly in the underserved middle tier between lower quality university stock and more expensive premium products.

Students will always opt for at least some level of privacy, especially for the space in which they sleep and being close to campus is the number one priority, even if this involves compromising on extensive facilities, according to Luke Nolan, chief executive officer of

‘The most popular social spaces revolve around fitness, entertainment and study. Overall, students expect more and the industry loves delivering to student requirements, which drives an upward pressure on rents, especially since most mature markets still don’t have enough student housing,’ he added.