You might think that living in Manchester on a student budget is near to impossible, especially as it becomes more and more known for being the ‘second London’. But with these life hacks you’ll learn the best ways to find deals on everything from accommodation and travel to entertainment and food.
We spoke with Hannah from The University of Manchester to get her top tips on living in Manchester on a student budget. In her own words, here are the tips that she swears by.
It’s easy to get sucked into thinking that university halls are the only option for students, but this just isn’t the case. There are plenty of resources and cheaper options available to you, it just takes a little research.
Facebook groups such as Manchester Student Accommodation 2019/2020 and Manchester – Student housing assistance 2019 can give you cheaper alternatives to university halls and offer plenty of options in shared student houses, flats and studio rooms. There are also privately-owned halls which are worth checking out and can sometimes be a lot cheaper than the ones offered by the university. A few of these include IQ Student Accommodation and Hello Student.
Getting around Manchester couldn’t be easier when you consider the array of transport services available. This includes the very handy tram, bus services, trains, cycling and of course walking. The biggest secret to those who aren’t familiar with Manchester is the magic ‘147 bus’ which offers FREE travel! The service links Manchester Piccadilly Rail Station with the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan.
Unfortunately, currently the free bus fare is only available to University of Manchester Students, but fares are still affordable with a single fare costing £1.50 and a Dayrider costing £4.00. You can find out more on routes and timetables here.
The cycle routes in Manchester are great and newly improved, so if you’re feeling brave brace the roads on a bike. You can hire your wheels or buy a second hand bike. Not only is cycling physically good for you, it also helps save the planet! Lastly, getting around by foot is super easy in Manchester as everything in the city centre is a close walk. You could always split your journey between transport modes and even incorporate a short walk to save some pennies.
Transport for greater Manchester also offers a new free bus which links from the rail station, car parks, shopping areas and businesses. Catch one of the many free buses during the daytime so you can save your money for late-night taxi rides! You can find out more here.
You should also take full advantage of the student discounts available to you. The 16-25 railcard gets you a massive 30% off train tickets. You can even get a discount on purchasing the railcard through Student Beans which is usually £30 (with a discount it’s £21). This is super handy, especially for visiting your family during holiday periods.
Eating on a budget
This is probably one of the best tips I’ll give you. A lot of fast-food chains offer discounts and freebies via their apps - so be sure to download your favourites! A few examples include KFC offering a free side when you sign up to the app, Greggs offering a free drink and GBK have offered a free side dish when you refer a friend to the app.
Olio is a genius app that allows people to freecycle their food. Although this started as people emptying their cupboards, now a lot of the major supermarkets, retailers, independent cafes, bakeries and shops have jumped on board. The idea is to share leftovers so as not to waste the food. Genius!
Finally, get free food on your birthday… after all who doesn’t deserve a free doughnut, cupcake or cookie on their birthday?! If you sign up to various mailing lists of restaurants and cafes, then you’ll be sent a voucher on your birthday. These include Krispy Kremes who offer a free doughnut on your big day, Gregg’s who offer a free cupcake, cream cake or doughnut and Hotel Chocolat who give a surprise gift.
Entertainment on a budget
Now everyone always automatically assumes that socialising at university is going to be expensive, just as I did when I first started. But you’ll soon find the best things to do on a student budget.
Manchester arena is one of the biggest gig venues in Manchester. Don’t forget to get your tickets in advance online which works out way cheaper!
You will soon become familiar with the Printworks which is full of nighttime entertainment. They have an array of popular bars, restaurants and clubs. They also have an Odeon cinema which offers student discounts, giving you a whopping 25% off cinema tickets. You’ll have to show a valid student card but other than that you’re good to go.
This next tip has been a lifesaver for me around exam periods and coursework deadlines. When you want a change of scenery from your university, there are a number of libraries in Manchester that you can visit for free. Chetham’s Library is the oldest public library and is open Monday to Friday – 10am – 15:30pm. The Portico Library is a hidden gem located above The Bank pub on Mosley Street. It’s open Monday – Friday from 9:30am – 17:30pm.
Frog and Bucket offers a free night of comedy on a Monday night (only if you can supply a student card). You’ll catch brand new comics bracing the stage for five minutes at a time and some are seriously funny.
If you’re into your vintage clothing, then COW in the Northern Quarter is the place you want to be. They offer loads of one-off pieces at student budget prices. The thrift shop on the corner of Piccadilly Gardens offers bigger savings and you can browse through their various rails to find a bargain.
Lastly, if you’re into orchestra concerts then you’re in for a treat. The BBC Philharmonic Studio offers FREE tickets to watch their world renowned orchestra play all sorts of tunes which are usually broadcast on the radio.