Top 10 places to study abroad and live as a student

Global Citizen By Iwona Gawronska January 2, 2020

If you’re reading this, you’re probably curious about studying abroad and wondering which destination might suit you best. Choosing to study abroad can be a game-changer for students. The global mindset you obtain is attractive for future employers and the new perspectives gained from learning overseas is invaluable.

Picture studying and attending lectures during the week, followed by exploring a whole new country and culture during your time off.

We’ve broken down some potential destinations to study abroad along with tuition fees and the average cost of a one bedroom apartment in the city centre. Check out this handy tool which breaks down each city into an approximate cost of living to give you an idea of how much it will cost you to live there. Interestingly, you can even use it to compare the costs of where you currently live to give you a sense of scale.

10. Seoul

Seoul came in tenth in the QS Best Student Cities 2019 ranking. As the capital of South Korea, Seoul is considered a vibrant, liveable city famed for its great food, exciting nightlife and K-pop music scene. This city truly has something for everyone with world-recognised universities such as Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University; each of which have high postgraduate employment rates.

Average international student fees per year: €2,000

Average cost of a city centre 1 bed apartment: €600

9. Sydney

Thanks to its high quality of life, beaches and laid-back lifestyle, Sydney unsurprisingly makes the top ten as an attractive student city. The University of Sydney (USYD) is famed for being the most established since opening its doors in 1850 as Australia’s first university. However, high international student fees and cost of living might not make this the most feasible option for studying abroad. To help with your financial status, an international student visa allows you to work up to 40 hours every two weeks during the academic year or full time during the holidays.  

Average international student fees per year: €25,000 

Average cost of a city centre 1 bed apartment: €1,600 

8. Zurich

As Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich is attractively bordered by snowy mountains, and is consistently named one of the most liveable cities in the world for overall quality of life. Living costs in Zurich are very high but the levels of student satisfaction make this an attractive prospect. Aesthetics aside, ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich are both classed as elite universities and the University of Zurich has seen scholars such as Albert Einstein previously teaching there.  

Average international student fees per year: €1,600 

Average cost of a city centre 1 bed apartment: €1,700 

7. Berlin

Germany’s capital Berlin is meeting its expectations as one of Europe’s coolest cities to study overseas and continues to be popular with students due to its affordability and lack of tuition fees (regardless of nationality). You may have to pay a small ‘semester contribution’*, but as an international student this is likely to be in the hundreds rather than thousands. The “Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin” is one of the cities most popular university choices. 

 Average international student fees per year: €300* (university dependent) 

Average cost of a city centre 1 bed apartment: €870 

6. Munich

As another fantastic city that boasts free university tuition, Munich has overtaken it’s cultural cousin Berlin as one of the Best Student Cities to live in. The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is known as a ‘hub’ for international students and often makes the ranks for the world’s top 100 universities. Its thriving economy also offers the prospect of job security after graduating if you decide to stay in the city. 

Average international student fees per year: €300* (university dependent) 

Average cost of a city centre 1 bed apartment: €1,200 

5. Paris

The French capital previously held the top spot as the number one student city between 2012 to 2016. It is home to eighteen esteemed universities including ENS Paris (which ranks 43rd in the world), Ecole Polytechnique ParisTech, Sciences Po Paris, and HEC Paris. Despite rent being on the steeper side, fresh fruit and vegetables (and wine!) are pretty cheap. It is also worth looking into the Erasmus scheme which is open to EU students and entitles you to receive between €250 to €300 per month.  

 Average international student fees per year: €2,770  

Average cost of a city centre 1 bed apartment: €2,800 

4. Montréal

Montréal is a city with multiple ethnicities, food and entertainment. As a bilingual city, most lectures are conducted in English and or French, which makes it an attractive prospect for European students. Don’t speak French? This is not a problem as free language courses are offered with specific programs. Montréal also landed in first place last year (2018) for best place to live as a student. Most notably, McGill University is rated as one of the best universities in the world.   

Average international student fees per year: €5,600  

Average cost of a city centre 1 bed apartment: €830 

3. Melbourne

If culture is your thing then Melbourne might just be the city for you to study in. Famously  known as Australia’s cultural capital, it has the title UNESCO City of Literature under its belt. Culture aside, it is also one of the world’s most liveable cities with high scores for stability, healthcare, environment, and education. The highest ranked university in Melbourne is none other than the University of Melbourne; ranked 31st in the world. 

 Average international student fees per year: €5,600  

Average cost of a city centre 1 bed apartment: €19,000 

2. Tokyo

Japan boasts the third largest economy in the world. Its capital, Tokyo, is an attractive city for overseas students to explore and experience a totally new way of life. Tokyo has risen in the charts in 2019 from a modest seventh to second place thanks to the employment prospects after graduating. The University of Tokyo was Japan’s first university and lectures are taught entirely in English in the hope of attracting international students.  

Average international student fees per year: €19,000  

Average cost of a city centre 1 bed apartment: €1,100 

1. London

Landing at number one is the bustling UK capital, London, retaining its top spot from 2018. Two universities in the capital are ranked within the world’s top 10 including UCL (7th) and Imperial College London (8th). London is home to an impressive 8 million people, of which 400,000 are students, making up 5% of its total population. Not only that but 41% of these are international students, meaning you’ll fit right in!  

Average international student fees per year: €13,000 (if outside of EU) €9,000 (if within EU) 

Average cost of a city centre 1 bed apartment: €1,900 


So whether it’s the vibrant cities of Paris and Tokyo or the mountainous Zurich that draws you in, you should now have a better idea of how much you’ll need to live and thrive on for your intellectual journey. It’s always advisable to check if any student finance companies support international university fees and what you’ll need to set up an overseas bank account. 

Ready to start transferring money to your student bank account in your chosen city? Read more about sending money online here. 

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