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Why PBSA Is The Best Choice To Minimise Cost Of Living

student housing in Melbourne

When considering studying abroad, the United Kingdom is frequently one of the first countries that top the minds of international students. The most current Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) stats indicate that 605,130 overseas students were enrolled for the 2020–21 academic year. However, given the pressing issue of the cost of living in the UK, many overseas students may feel the sting of sky-high rent rates, which may very well act as a barrier for them to pursue their aspirations of studying abroad. With a substantial increase in fees and utilities projected over the next year, these living expenditures may further hinder a student’s motive to study in the UK. 

There has long been a misconception that Purpose-Built Student Accommodation, or PBSA as it is commonly known, is more expensive than renting on the private market when it comes to picking the best student accommodation in the UK.  As opposing this myth, however, this guide elaborates on the perks of using PBSA and why it is the greatest option for minimizing your living expenses. Utilizing data acquired from Knight Frank & UCAS, we’ve compared the perks of an all-inclusive ensuite PBSA room to a room in a shared apartment within the broader Private Renting Sector (PRS).

PBSA Vs PRS: Which Is Better For Overseas Students?

John Knight established Knight Frank LLP, an estate agency, residential and commercial property consultant, in London. They enable clients to locate and get the finest international property for sale and lease thanks to their 500+ offices throughout the globe.

Knight Frank reported that in 80% of the markets studied, the overall average cost for a student in PBSA was cheaper than the cost of accommodation in the wider rental market. 

According to a recent study by Knight Frank, PBSA schemes are a preferable alternative for students who aim to reduce their overall cost of living. Additionally, reports claimed that in some UK markets, students are required to pay up to GBP 16,500 per year for living expenses. Students living expenditures are anticipated to climb more as a result of the high probability that rent, bills, and utility costs will increase. It was therefore concluded that PBSA Markets are the most secure option for international students. Here are a few takeaways from the recent study –

  1. 15 major cities and towns in the United Kingdom were studied, with London offering the highest price disparity
  2. In London, students living in PBSA pay 33% less than the overall rental market once costs are factored in, amounting to a savings of around £108 each week, or £5,527 for a 51-week lease
  3. Other prominent university cities, such as Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow, and Leicester, provided students with savings of approximately 25%, 15%, and 14%, respectively
  4. PBSA costs 10% less in Bristol and Nottingham than in the rest of the rental market, while Edinburgh, Exeter, and Glasgow all provide savings of around 8%
  5. Students living in PBSA in Newcastle presently pay around 5% less than the wider rental market, although PBSA and PRS rent in Birmingham were almost the same

Only three of the fifteen markets studied by Knight Frank revealed that students paid more for PBSA than they do for PRS.

Why PBSA Has The Upper Edge?

The PBSA Market in the UK is the nation’s consistent source of wealth and is considered the country’s golden goose. Approximately 60% to 70% of the approximately 1 million individuals who reside away from home choose to live in PBSA over typically shared accommodation. Here’s why PBSA is becoming more popular than PRS –

  • With a phenomenal demand for PBSA in the UK, full-time student numbers outnumber current PBSA bed spaces by a three-to-one ratio
  • Although universities account for 69% of the PBSA market, students have increasingly begun to choose private housing over university dorms
  • Over the last five years, the proportion of full-time first-year students choosing private purpose-built student accommodation has increased from 22% to 30%
  • One of the primary reasons why PBSA is preferred over PRS is because of its facilities and features, as well as its well-managed and maintained housing
  • Due to the all-inclusive expenses for internet and electricity, the overall cost of PBSAs is cheaper than that of regular student housing
  • Furthermore, the majority of private PBSAs are located within walking distance of the area’s leading colleges, making it handy for students who can subsequently save money on commute costs

According to Knight Frank’s poll of over 70,000 existing and incoming students, affordability remains the most pressing concern when it comes to student housing.

The graphic below depicts how the survey responses provided a unique insight into the preferences and concerns that students have regarding their student housing.

Source: Knight Frank

What Influences A Student’s Decision On Where To Live?

There are a lot of considerations that students take into account when deciding where to live. This is specifically in the case of international students migrating to the UK. As per Knight Frank’s student accommodation survey in 2021, the following factors majorly influenced a student’s choice of living –

ParticularsFirst-Year StudentsSecond-Year Students or Above
Value for Money90%94%
Cleanliness of the bedroom88%86%
Overall Cost86%92%
Location of the property86%84%
Amount of light in the bedroom87%83%
Quality of Accommodation83%87%
Bills Included78%52%
Facilities77%63%
Quality of the furnishings65%65%
Accommodation Reviews61%50%
Availability of self-catered options55%43%
Brand Recognition46%47%

With this, we can come to the conclusion that the PBSA Market offers value-for-money student accommodations with all-inclusive utility bills which thereby reduces the overall cost of living, while also giving the convenience of proximity to the university, ample facilities, fully-furnished properties, along with options to choose from a wide range of housing types.

For students who are keen on finding the ideal student accommodation in the UK, UniAcco provides top-notch housing types that are conveniently located near the top universities. There are several different room types available for students to choose from, including studios, twin studios, non-ensuites, and more. The majority of apartments are completely furnished and equipped with features and amenities tailored to the needs of students, including all-inclusive utility costs. These student residences are also close to a network of public transportation, giving students the opportunity to commute swiftly.

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Why PBSA Is The Best Choice To Minimise Cost Of Living