Glasgow vs Edinburgh: A tale of two cities

Which city comes out on top for students?

Chloe Bell 

An article written in The Scotsman recently reported that Edinburgh was a cheaper university city than Glasgow to live in, and so the historic rivalry between Edinburgh and Glasgow continues. While both cities are striking in their own ways, Edinburgh benefits from beautiful architecture, while, as People Make Glasgow campaign highlights, Glaswegians remain the friendliest group of people, north of the border.

I have had the privilege of living in both these wonderful cities, and my personal experience takes issue with idea that Edinburgh is easier on the purse then Glasgow.  I’ve been an Edinburgh girl all my life, coming back between university breaks in Glasgow, and while it’s a fantastic city in many ways, cheaper, it most certainly is not.

First of all, Glasgow oozes transport appeal, with train links throughout the entire city and out onto the suburbs, with the two major train stations both supporting low level and ground level trains. In addition to this, it also has the advantage of the subway system, which, while smelling worse than your laundry basket, is great for getting around the city and doesn’t break the bank, with an all day ticket costing £4.00.  Having lived in both cities for some time, while it is easy for me to say that while you can walk from one end of Edinburgh to the other, you might not necessarily want too, and the Glasgow subway system is a major plus over the city over Edinburgh.  Furthermore, we also must not forget the overly expensive tram system that has newly been put in place in Edinburgh, which seems great if you don’t fancy the walk along the busy street of Princes’s street, costing a mere £8.00 return.

When it comes to essential supplies, there seem to be some discrepancies in information. The University of Glasgow website recommends that students budget for roughly £180 a month for essential supplies such as food and bus passes etc.  This seems overly generous, given my own experiences living as a student in Glasgow over the last three years. I roughly spend just over £250 pounds a month, which accounts, not only for essential supplies, but various social outings, copious amounts of coffee, and other everyday items that you need to live somewhat comfortably. In short, most of my living costs excluding bills are included in this amount.

My own experience also dismisses the recommendations by Edinburgh University that students can budget for £50 a week to live off. Personally, it would be easy for me to spend that amount in a single evening with friends, with a return on First buses coming to around £7.50 and, with fewer dinner deals then Glasgow, a meal and drinks is more expensive. In contrast, I’ve found that in Glasgow you can go out with £20 and even come home with change.

The study conducted by HSBC also looked at the cost of student halls of residence in both cities, which is around £106 pounds a week in both cities. This differs to Edinburgh University’s ‘Estimated Living Costs 2014-2015’ which suggests that a room at Edinburgh hall costs around £116-243 pounds a week. These prices are not much different from Glasgow University’s prices of halls of residence. However, the study notes that once you move into private accommodation, these costs differ and Edinburgh becomes the cheaper city to live in.

However, after speaking to some friends from both cities, it seems as though the standard cost for a three bedroomed flat in the city centre of Edinburgh costs around £120 per week, per student while a flat in the city centre of Glasgow costs £75 pounds. However, it’s important to remember that a lot of students at Glasgow enjoy the benefits of living in the West End, where private student accommodation falls at around £115 per week.

Ultimately however, it is difficult to compare Edinburgh and Glasgow when really they are so different, catering towards different city culture. However,  if my experiences are anything to go by,  Glasgow is almost certainly the cheaper university city to live in. It is well known for the entertainment and social aspects it can offer students, which doesn’t break the bank if you’re savvy about your nights.  Edinburgh offers a more sophisticated night out with people gathering around George Street.  While Glasgow’s social events are more laid back and ideal after a week of studying, from the busy Ashton Lane to the busy streets of the city centre.

With three university’s based in the city students have great access to Glasgow’s shopping and its well known nightlife, which is well catered towards the students with numerous different places offering student prices and nights, there are no complaints from students studying in Glasgow.     

There is one final, important thing that should be remembered about price differences between Edinburgh and Glasgow. The Scotsman and myself are in agreement that wine is cheaper in Glasgow than Edinburgh, with two bottles costing around £10. And lets face it, thats a bargain for any student.


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