How Should I Budget for Cambridge?
How Much is an Apartment in Cambridge?
The good news is that Cambridge accommodation is cheaper than it’s London counterpart. Looking for a studio in Cambridge within walking distance of the city centre? The average cost is £700 a month. To rent a private room in a flat in Cambridge will run about £500 - £600 a month. Student accommodation is cheaper, but only just by a small amount due to high demand.
Amenities in Cambridge flats vary, but generally you can expect a mid-to-high standard of quality. Fully outfitted kitchens, balconies, and small shared gardens can be had - but don’t expect the modern luxuries you might find in the United States or Canada. In order to preserve the architecture of England, many buildings are maintained without making changes deemed unnecessary to modernise them. Some of these rarer modern luxuries that may be hard to find include double-glazed windows, central heating, and satellite television. Even if you’re willing to pay, you will not be allowed to make changes to some properties due to conservation concerns.
If this concerns you, we recommend you search for new builds and try to avoid ‘listed buildings’.
Cost of Travel in Cambridge
Cambridge is served by a bus route and railway lines that run into London.
The buses go through neighborhoods, small roads, the campuses, and other various stops - feeding into the centre of town. 1 month of travel by bus costs £45.50 with the Cambridge Megarider deal.
Since it’s a mostly flat, university town it’s not surprising to find out that biking is a common choice among commuters. As a matter of fact, Cambridge has the highest level of bicycle use in the whole of the UK! You certainly won’t be alone on the streets on your bike, and Cambridge is a cycle-friendly city with separate lanes & paths for bicyclists. Also interesting to note that Cambridge has began to pilot a ‘cyclists go first’ traffic light system on some intersections, making the roads even safer for those on bikes.
The railway in Cambridge is serviced by Greater Anglia/Abellio trains, and a return ticket to London Liverpool Street costs £21 to £45, depending on the time of travel. This makes Cambridge unattractive as an everyday commuter town into London - but a decent price for occasional weekend trips.
Many in Cambridge get around via bike or walking, with car users being few & far between. Our top recommendation is to walk or bike if possible, and if not utilize the bus services.
Average Food Costs in Cambridge
Grocery prices on Cambridge are on-par with London. You may, however, find it slightly more difficult to find budget shops, due to Cambridge’s reputation as a ‘posh’ area. They can be found, however, and if you are looking to save money on your grocery shop we recommend Aldi, Costcutter, and Asda - who all have shops in the Cambridge town area.
A single person can expect to pay around £140 a month for groceries if budgeting properly.
Eating out varies just like in London, and you’ll find plenty of cheap eats due to the high student population. Massive sandwiches come in at just £3.50 at the popular Norfolk Street Bakery. Chinese food fans will be spoiled for choice as Cambridge is host to many nice little restaurants serving Cantonese & Sichuan cuisine - one of the best is Zhonghua Traditional Snacks, where fo £5 you can get a full-size portion of something tasty.
The average sit-down meal at a mid-range restaurant is about £16 for a single person. While there are lots of chain eateries in Cambridge there are also lots of lovely independent cafes & restaurants - Yelp can help find the best of the best.
Internet & Phone Costs in Cambridge
In Cambridge you can access fast speeds including fibre-optic in some areas of the town. Cell signals & 3G are also quite easy to find.
The average cost of broadband in Cambridge is about £18 a month, with many providers offering great deals in order to try & win subscribers. Purchasing a phone for temporary use in Cambridge is easy. Without getting a contract, you can take advantage of a Pay As You Go phone. We’ve written an article about pay as you go phone options in the UK (PAYG in the UK), so take a look & see what sort of deals you can get.
Cost of Enterainment in Cambridge
Since Cambridge is a student town, there is plenty to do during the weekend and after work or classes. Going out for drinks can be fairly expensive, but if you stick to pints at a neighborhood pub you will pay about £3.20. Much like their London counterparts, Cambridge residents enjoy going to the pub after work - this socialization isn’t too pricy!
On the other hand, a cocktail at a trendy nightspot will range from about £7 to £12. You might want to do as the locals do and hang out at neighborhood pubs instead.
Cinema tickets in Cambridge are about £9 per person, so a bit cheaper than more urban theatres in London. There are also a few nice independent theatres including the Arts Picturehouse Cambridge, that offer membership discounts for both students and members of the public who sign up as frequent cinema-goers.
Most of the museums in Cambridge are overseen by the university, and you can get lots of information on their site. Most have free, public entry.