As we all know, choosing a good university is only half the battle. Where that university actually is can be just as vital as any academic reputation it might have. Of course, we all tell our parents/our friends/ourselves that we chose Manchester Uni because it invented the world’s first working computer (and the world’s first working contraceptive pill) or we chose LSE for its deep historical links to Keynesian economic theory.
But let’s be honest for a second. A big part of you chose Manchester for Manchester, London for London and, in this case; Cardiff for Cardiff. That’s half the battle won. Now the key is making sure you’re living in the right part of town. Nobody needs an hour’s bus ride to get to a 9am lecture, nor do they fancy a £20 taxi ride home after a £15 night out.
Fortunately the good folks at Uniplaces (that’ll be me) have compiled a list of the best student neighbourhoods in Cardiff.
Like in many smaller cities with big universities, if you’re compiling a list of the best areas to live in, there’s usually one or two key student districts that are impossible to avoid. In Cardiff, Cathays is by far the most unavoidable of all of them.
Perfectly situated just north of Cardiff University, this collection of old Victorian terraces is made up of around 70% rental properties, making it a bit of ghost town during Christmas and summer. However, Cathays is the classic ‘roll out of bed five minutes before lectures’ neighbourhood. Well served by pubs, shops and within a drunken stumble of the student’s union, it covers all the bases, even if you might pay slightly more for all the convenience.
Just northeast of the city centre, and still close to the university, is the district of Roath. A bit quieter and slightly more residential than Cathays, the area is a little better suited to final year or post grad students. Or simply put, those in the ‘brown trouser’ part of their university career. Unsurprisingly too, Roath Park, with its lake, woods and sporting facilities, is in Roath. There’s all the predictable amenities, shops, bars, restaurants etc. and it’s all just a 20 minute walk from the uni.
Another good final year or post grad area, Heath is a little further out of the city than either Cathays or Roath, but not by much. It is closer to to the University’s Heath Park Campus, so students studying any healthcare related subjects may be better off living in Heath, up by Whitchurch Road. Of course, it’s still only a mile and a bit from the city centre. Either way, just don’t move there for its fine miniature railway, or I’ll worry about you.
Yes, it’s the district that sounds funnier the more you say it. Splott, out to the east of the city, bordering the shoreline of the Seven Estuary, isn’t exactly as student focused as its northern counterparts. The area has long had a reputation a little bigger than the sum of its parts, mainly due to the silly name.
As student life goes, from Adamsdown, near Splott, you’d be close to the Trevithick building, home to the Schools of Engineering, Physics & Astronomy, and Computer Science. Rent here should be a little cheaper too and you’d also be close to the Splott Warehouse, a great venue for mass shindigs, or the occasion colour party.
Cardiff Bay, or Tiger Bay as it’s often referred to by the locals, was once a multicultural dockland, and red light district. But since urban regeneration dug its claws into most of Britain’s post-industrial port cities, it’s become a place of modern apartment living. Expensive and a bit sterile, it still undoubtedly holds some of the best views of the bay and the city. Maybe one for after you graduate.
A bus ride, or a reasonable 30 minute walk, from the university is the area of Canton. (Nothing to do with that part of southern China, where Cantonese comes from. Honest). Another good area for post graduates, it’s close to the centre, the Millennium Stadium, as well as the beautifully crumbly Cardiff castle and Cardiff City’s stadium, living in Canton might help you feel a little more integrated into the city, or integrated into its sporting culture at least.
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