Liverpool vs London - Which is the best city to be a student

If you have the opportunity to choose between studying in Liverpool or London, first, how lucky are you? Second, how do you choose between the two? This Liverpool vs London post will compare all those things that are important to a student.
Liverpool vs London - Which is the best city to be a student
Published on: 22 Oct 2023
Cost of student accommodation

The cost of your student accommodation is one of the most important aspects to consider. It’s going to be one of your largest outgoings, so needs to be as cheap as possible while still being fit to live in.

Liverpool is one of the cheapest cities in the country to live and offers much lower cost accommodation than most other university cities.

London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live. It offers a huge range of student accommodation but usually at eye-watering prices.

This is a clear win for Liverpool. You’ll be paying much less for similar standards of accommodation which is the name of the game.

Quality of life

Quality of life includes so many intangibles that it’s difficult to quantify it in a useful way. But we’ll try. Liverpool is cheap, has lots of parks and outside spaces, some excellent shopping, access to loads of beaches, friendly locals, plenty of things to see and do and some highly rated universities.

London isn’t so cheap but also has plenty of outside spaces, excellent shopping, characterful locals, lots to see and do and a number of famous colleges and universities.

London has more to do, higher rated universities and some national landmarks. But the locals aren’t usually as friendly, the pace of life can be exhausting and everything is expensive. We would call this a draw, depending on what you look for. Liverpool is cheaper and easier to get around while London has more, but costs more.

Culture

Both cities are chock full of galleries, museums, cultural venues and places to feed the mind. Liverpool has The Liverpool Everyman, The Walker Art Gallery, Tate Liverpool, Albert Dock, the Cavern Club, Abbey Road, The East Village Arts Club, Anfield and hundreds of smaller venues.

London has the National Gallery, the V&A, the O2 Arena, Brixton Academy, Ministry of Sound, Tate Modern, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and hundreds of galleries, museums and cultural highlights.

London probably has more cultural venues but they can be difficult to get to and to get in. Liverpool may have fewer, but they are much more accessible.


Therefore, we think it’s a win for Liverpool. For accessibility over quantity. London definitely has more going on but you have to travel to get to them.

Walkability

Not many students will have a car, or want the expense, so walkability is a key measure of a university city.

Liverpool is a very walkable city. It’s large but not too large and not too spread out either. It’s one of those cities that packs a lot in without seeming too crowded. Public transport is plentiful too.

London has even more public transport and you’re going to need it. The city is far more spread out. You’ll be able to walk most places around class and your accommodation but you’ll need an Oyster card for everything else.

This is another win for Liverpool. London may have more places you’ll want to go and see but few places will be genuinely walkable.

The people

The people make a place and that’s true of both these cities. So what are the people like?

Liverpool is full of surprisingly friendly people. Even though some may look intimidating at first, the vast majority of people you’ll come across are genuinely friendly and welcoming.

London is different. When you first meet people, they may seem rude and standoffish. But get to know some of them and they are as friendly as Liverpudlians.

It’s yet another win for Liverpool. Londoners may be friendly once you get to know them but if that initial welcome isn’t there, it can be tough to make friends.

Safety

Safety is key when you’re a student. You’re a natural target as you’re seen as green and naïve in the ways of the world. So which city is the safest?

The overall crime rate in Liverpool in 2021 was 128 crimes per 1,000 people. The majority of those crimes were antisocial behaviour followed by the usual mix of violence, property crime and drugs.

The overall crime rate in London in 2021 was 87 crimes per 1,000 people. It’s the same picture as Liverpool, with a mix of other crimes making up the numbers.

Despite the figures, if you stay out of the inner city areas and take sensible precautions, both cities are relatively safe spaces. That’s a draw in our eyes.

Public transport

As a student, if you’re not walking, you’re taking the bus or train. So how good is public transport in each city?

Liverpool has excellent public transport thanks to Merseytravel. Buses are plentiful and trains seem to go everywhere. Fares are relatively affordable too.

London has the most train stations of anywhere, some buses run 24/7 and then there’s the Tube. The Oyster card lets you travel most places on buses, trains and Tube and is simple and convenient.

It’s a win for London here. Liverpool has great transport links but you simply cannot beat the London Underground for convenience.

Food and drink

On those days when you can afford to go out, which city has more options for eating and drinking? Liverpool has more bars and restaurants than you would know what to do with. Every cuisine from every part of the world. There’s also pubs, cafes and coffee shops aplenty.

London has even more options for food and drink. There’s an eatery or drinking establishment on every road, including some of the world’s top restaurants. But boy do you pay for it!

This is a win for Liverpool. While London may have plenty more options, eating and drinking in London can be very expensive. Once you’re working and can afford it, London wins hands down. While you’re a student, it’s Liverpool all the way.

Leisure activities

Leisure activities is another of those categories that will mean different things to different people.

Liverpool has music, libraries, museums, parks, beaches, sports, clubs, hobbies, comedy and plenty of gyms and leisure centres. Whatever you do to relax, you’ll find it here.

London also has music, libraries, museums, parks and all the rest. More than Liverpool but much more spread out. If you can’t find something to do in London, there’s no hope for you!

London slightly edges this one. There’s much more to do in the capital but it tends to be further away and cost money. Liverpool has slightly fewer opportunities but more for free or at a lower cost.

Liverpool vs London – Which is best?

By now, you should have a good idea of which city appeals to you the most. We know we do!

This Liverpool vs London comparison tried to rate life from a student’s perspective and we hope we have done you justice.

Both cities have lots to offer and you won’t be sorry if you end up in either.

However, everything else being equal, we think Liverpool has the edge. It has more character and more you can do on a student budget.

London may have more of everything but you will struggle to balance the books if you’re an average student with average student finances.

Plus, for us, London is one of those cities you’ll visit and spend time in and then move on. Spend any time at all in Liverpool and it stays with you, for all the right reasons.