What are the Cheapest Places to Study?! | FindAPhD.com
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Posted on 29 Mar '23

What Are The Cheapest Places To Study?!

As a PhD student you’ll be spending most of your time undertaking independent research and if your research does not call for regular hours at a lab, you’ll be looking to find study spaces elsewhere. But will finding the right environment to work burn a massive hole in your pocket?

To help you pick the most budget-friendly option, we’ve calculated how much an average 8-hour study day will cost you at some common study locations.

At home

Isn’t it easy to think that if you don’t step out of the house, you’ll not be spending any money? However, with the ongoing cost of living crisis in the UK, you could be paying more to heat your house than you would at a coffee shop – where it is basically included in the cost of your coffee!

The amount you spend on heating depends on the efficiency of your heating system, how big your house is and for how long you keep the heating on. The average cost of heating a house in the UK is around £1.64 per hour if you use the mains gas and have a 24-kWh boiler (which is most common in UK homes).

Apart from the gas used for heating, you’ll be using electricity to charge your devices and keep the lights running. On average, it costs less than a penny per hour to run an LED light and around 3p per hour to charge your laptop.

This puts the average total cost of an 8-hour study day at home (if you keep your heating on all day) at around £13. It is important to note that this does not include the cost of running any other appliances like a kettle or the stove.

At a coffee shop

Heating and electricity at a coffee shop is free (included in the price of your coffee). The average price of a coffee is roughly £3. It is a fair estimate that you’ll order a coffee every two hours. So, you’ll be having four coffees during your 8-hour study day which brings the total to £12.

Of course, the amount you spend will depend on the number of coffees you consume and whether you order any snacks, but you might want to keep in mind that some coffee shops might not allow you to sit for long durations if you don’t place an order every so often.

At a library

Essentially the cost of studying at a university or public library is zero. University libraries are free for students and most public libraries in the UK also do not charge any membership fee. However, you might be spending some money on your commute to the library. You’ll find that most libraries are usually located in the city centre and if your accommodation is far away (which is the case with most students as accommodation outside the city centre is usually cheaper) you might find yourself taking public transport.

The average cost of a single bus journey in most UK towns is £2.80. You might be eligible for discounts on these fares if you’re a student or below a certain age. The total cost of commuting to the library comes to around £5.60.

You might also feel like fixing yourself a meal during your day. A meal deal from the shops usually costs around £3, however, you can always do away with this cost if you carry a packed lunch. But even if you splash out on the meal deal, you'd be coming in at around £8.60 for the day!

So, what's our verdict? Technically based on these calculations, the library is your best bet for saving some pennies, if you're strict on taking your own food and drinks to enjoy where you can. Although the electricity and heating is included in the price of your coffee . . . the number you may need during the day could have a coffee shop equal with if you just worked at home. But if you like to have hustle and bustle around, then on the flip side, it might just cost you the same, or less if you share the fuel bills with housemates!

Now that you know how much a typical day of studying will cost in different scenarios, you can choose one that suits you the best (or keep changing things up with a mixture of all three).

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Last Updated: 29 March 2023