Living in Exeter

Exeter is a peaceful, scenic city surrounded by stunning countryside and coastal views. Although it’s rich with history and culture, there’s a large student population – so living in Exeter will never be boring.

In the heart of the West Country, this friendly and inviting city has both ancient landmarks and a modern feel. You’ll discover plenty of shopping opportunities, bars, restaurants, theatres and outdoor activities here.

A modern city with a rich history

Vibrant and student-friendly, Exeter is a compact city with lots to do. Take a tour of the city centre to explore the Gothic Cathedral, Roman ruins and cobbled streets – said to be the inspiration for Harry Potter's Diagon Alley. Yes, J. K. Rowling is a University of Exeter alumni and will have walked down those very streets herself!

The Quayside is a popular destination with beautiful architecture. Open everyday with free admission, Exeter Quay is the ideal place to browse shops, hire a bicycle, take a boat trip or find something to eat in one of many pubs and restaurants.

What makes Exeter unique?

  1. Exeter is voted the best UK city for quality of life (Arcadis Investigating Britain: Cities Built for the Future 2018).
  2. It's a city with unique historical landmarks and gothic architecture, including the ancient city wall, Exeter Cathedral, St. Nicholas Priory and Exe Bridge ruins.
  3. Exeter hosts diverse cultural events, including live music, theatre and the arts.
  4. Easy access to Exmouth Beach, North Devon and Cornwall for surfing and kayaking.
  5. One of the top 10 safest cities in England and Wales (The Complete University Guide – 'How Safe is Your City?' 2017), ranked 3rd in the Russell Group for overall student satisfaction! (The National Student Survey 2018)

Exeter's popular attractions

Exeter is full of fun things to do, beautiful landmarks and amazing places to visit. Among them, you'll find:

  • Exeter Cathedral. Discover the city's most incredible gothic landmark and the treasures that lie within it.
  • Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre. Home to art, concerts, a theatre, a cinema and more, this venue is your go-to for entertainment.
  • Medieval underground passageways. Explore fascinating vaulted passageways around the city, dating back to the 14th century.
  • Royal Albert Memorial Museum. This gothic revival building is home to diverse collections, including art and zoology.
  • Farmer's Markets. Try local West Country produce at the weekly Exeter Farmer's Market and others around the city.
  • Festivals. Including the Exeter Respect Festival which celebrates equality, diversity and multiculturalism.

Nightlife in Exeter

Exeter offers a selection of pubs, bars and clubs in the city centre, not far from campus. The campus club, The Lemon Grove, puts on fun student nights and The Imperial is a popular pub located just off the Streatham Campus.

Sport in Exeter

Exeter is a city passionate about sport. A host city to the Rugby World Cup in 2015, the Exeter Chiefs Rugby Club is the favourite team to cheer on within the city. In addition to Rugby, Exeter also has a football team and hosts watersport competitions, including annual dragonboat racing and rowing events.

At the University of Exeter's Streatham campus, you can play a wealth of sports in the Sports Park. The University has a large gym, four different types of astro pitches, squash courts, a sports hall for badminton, basketball and football, a cricket centre, a tennis centre, a golf centre and an outdoor pool.

Food in Exeter

You’ll be spoilt for choice in Exeter, with a wide selection of restaurants, cafés and bars. You'll find the Exeter Street Food Market throughout the month in three locations across the city, as well as regular Farmers' Markets in and around Exeter where you can pick up local produce and seasonal fruit and vegetables.

For a quick snack, there are delicatessens and cafés dotted throughout the city, as well as pubs and bistros serving delicious meals. Be sure to try some of the local specialities too, which include traditional cream teas with clotted cream, fudge and pasties.

You’ll easily find budget-friendly options in Exeter, thanks to its growing student population. In addition to well-known chain restaurants such as Las Iguanas, YO! Sushi and Wagamama, Exeter also has some independent cafés and restaurants to choose from, including vegetarian and vegan-friendly options.

Shopping in Exeter

The main shopping area in Exeter is the Princesshay Shopping Centre, where you'll find all the well-known highstreet brands and restaurants. Another popular place is the West Quarter – a fashionable area with some of Exeter’s most distinctive and unique shops.

Head over to Gandy Street to explore quirky independent stores and boutique shops, or visit Cathedral Quarter to find a selection of designer and independent stores.

Festivals and events in Exeter

Exeter is home to some unique festivals and events, including:

  • Exeter Castle Oktoberfest – a world-renowned German beer festival hosted in Exeter.
  • Lost Weekend – a 3-day festival of interactive media, music, art, great ideas and forward-thinking technology.
  • Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink – an annual festival celebrating Exeter’s rich food culture.
  • Exeter Beats – a 3-day festival packed full of live music and street food.
  • Exeter Respect Festival – a multicultural event that celebrates diversity with international music.

Exeter living costs

After a few weeks of living in Exeter, you’ll begin to have a better understanding of what things cost. The below figures are an estimated monthly budget for the main expenses you’ll have, excluding tuition and accommodation fees:

  • Food – £170
  • Entertainment and social activities – £140
  • Travel (local) – £19
  • Clothes and toiletries – £60
  • Other expenses – £40

Travel in and around Exeter

The University of Exeter is a 10-minute bus ride from the city centre. As the city centre is reasonably compact, you'll find travelling around Exeter easy by walking or cycling. Buses run regularly with good routes between the University campus and the city. As a student, you can benefit from an annual or termly Unirider bus pass at a discount.

For travel further afield, there are great rail links and the airport is around 25 minutes away by taxi. A train to London takes between two and three hours depending on the service, or a more cost-effective coach takes around five hours.

Explore the UK from Exeter

Exeter is in the county of Devon – known for its sandy beaches, moorland national parks and sweeping fossil cliffs along the Jurassic Coast. There are so many places to see and things to do in Devon, from canoeing along the coastline to taking your friends on a zip-wire adventure and exploring England's highest manmade waterfalls.

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