Blog post

Student cost of living in Derby

Living costs are a standard part of life, but becoming a student might be your first experience of managing them. Second year Accounting and Finance student Kira shares her best advice on where you can make savings.

By Kira Critchlow - 3 November 2023

Suddenly having to manage your own money as a student can feel overwhelming and stressful, but I have some top tips for making living affordable and easy. 

Rent in Derby

The main large expense that most students have is rent. Student accommodation in Derby varies depending on whether you go for university owned accommodation, or privately owned, but tends to average around £550-600 per month. This is considerably less than the price of rent in other university cities. There is usually an option to pay rent either monthly or termly, which tends to be personal preference, although termly can be a very helpful option if you’re covering your rent with your student loan, as the dates line up perfectly. 

A look at a student bedroom - bed and study desk

Getting going

Transport costs can be kept under control too. The UniBus runs regularly from both the city centre and the train station and is currently completely free for students when you present your student ID. You have student status, so it’s time to put it to good use! TrentBarton offers a student discount on their buses throughout Derbyshire with a student Mango account on their mobile app. If a taxi is what you need, Uber is available in Derby and Albatross Cars have an ordering app as well. If you’re planning on going back home during the year, a Railcard may be a viable option, and these can save you 1/3 on rail fares across Great Britain. 

The Unibus outside Kedleston Road entrance

Out and about

Socialising and having leisure time is really important for students to make new friends and enjoy something outside of studying. There is a huge range of sports and societies available for students to join, the majority of which have a one-off joining fee and free or discounted events for members during term time. The University gym also offers a discounted student membership rate. There are a number of activities in the city centre that offer student discounts such as the Showcase Cinema, the Paradise Island Mini-Golf and Hollywood Bowling in the Derbion shopping centre. You can sign up for student discounts through apps such as UniDays, StudentBeans or TOTUM to use at activities and shops in the city centre, alongside a huge range of online services. Spotify and Apple Music both offer student discounts, for all of your music streaming needs. There are also several options for socialising in the city centre. We have plenty of restaurants that offer student discounts throughout the week such as Pizza Express and Pieminister, alongside a whole host of bars which have drink offers like Revolution, Bunk, The Friary, The Mixing House and Wetherspoons. 

Leather recliner seats in the Odeon cinema

Staying put

If staying in is more your thing, there are apps and websites like JustWatch and Trakt where you can find the cheapest way to watch your favourite shows and movies by filtering by streaming platform. While a takeaway is not the most cost-effective way to eat, everyone fancies one now and then. Consider ordering as a group with your friends or housemates to get discounted rates on large orders or make the most of minimum spends for free delivery. Deliveroo also offers free delivery for students who sign up (a minimum spend may apply).

A mixed group of students sat together in halls

Eating in

Where groceries are concerned, there are accessible low-priced supermarkets in the city centre including Lidl and Aldi. If you shop at other supermarket chains, it’s definitely worth getting a loyalty card to make the most of the discounts available such as the Tesco Clubcard and Sainsburys Nectar card and any tailored discounts on the relevant apps. If you’re after something specific that’s usually on offer somewhere, there are apps and websites available for comparing prices across supermarkets such as Trolley and Priceable.

A student reaches for a top shelf item in a supermarket

Some people prefer to stick to a weekly budget while others might like to review and adjust afterwards, so find what works best for you! Many bank apps will categorise your spending for you, so you see much more clearly where your money is going and manage that better so you don’t blow the budget as you adjust to living as a student. We’re all looking for ways to save money as a student, so don’t panic, you’ve got this! 

About the author

Student image of Kira Critchlow for blog

Kira Critchlow
Second Year Accounting and Finance BA (Hons)

I am a Second Year Accounting and Finance student, a big fan of video games and books both fiction and non-fiction. Specifically the Assassin's Creed franchise and similar open-world games. I am also the Deputy Head of the RAG and elected Business School Officer for 23/24.