A student’s guide to living in Newcastle
Making yourself feel at home in Newcastle shouldn’t take long – the locals here will go out of their way to welcome you with open arms.
A place renowned for its friendly nature and no fuss attitude, it’s a unique city that you’ll grow to love quickly.
5 tips for your first week in Newcastle
1. Familiarise yourself with the public transport options
The Nexus Metro system is one of the most convenient, hassle free ways to get about, as is the Go North East bus network, which has free WiFi on most of its fleet.
Student passes are available at a discounted rate for both, and if your accommodation or flat isn’t within walking distance of the university or city centre, a pass is well worth investing in. Make your journey even easier by downloading the companies’ apps for access to route planning, service status updates and announcements.
Local taxi companies are always worth having in your contact list.
Blueline is the most popular but it’s worth looking into local firms specific to your neighbourhood too. Black cabs run from numerous points in the city, including Central Station, the Bigg Market and the Gate, but be aware these are always more expensive, and only get in them from official taxi ranks.
2. Who to follow on social media and which apps to get
The people, businesses, and local institutions of Newcastle are very active on social media, so following their accounts is a great way to find out what’s on, things to do, offers and upcoming events.
Start with your university, but also take a look at intuEldon Square, the indoor city centre shopping and dining area, tourist board NewcastleGateshead and NE1 Get Into Newcastle. These are some great sites to get started and encompass a lot of the goings on in the city.
For word of mouth recommendations and some more individual perspectives of the city, look for some of the local bloggers. Many use #nebloggers and love to shout about the city and the new places they discover as well as some old favourites. There’s a hugely diverse range of local bloggers, covering topics such as Newcastle, fitness, food, fashion, travel, beauty and lifestyle.
In addition to the public transport and taxi apps, it’s worth downloading and setting up Uber if you don’t already have it, and Deliveroo – the company that brings food directly from restaurants to your door.
3. Locate where to do your food shop
Doing your food shop in bulk is the cheapest way to shop, and the nearest good value supermarkets to Newcastle centre are Morrisons or Asda in Byker, just two stops on the metro and a 5-minute walk. Asda and Sainsburys also offer home delivery if you prefer to shop online.
For essentials and quick options, there are plenty of Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Locals throughout the city. The Grainger Market is open Monday to Saturday and has been selling fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and cheese for over 200 years. It’s a historical part of the city and is probably where you’ll get the best value for your money.
In Chinatown you’ll find Wing-Hong and Tsang foods, both Chinese supermarkets. On Fenkle Street an Asian goods supermarket, HiYoU. Farplace Vegan store can be found on Clayton Street.
For more high-end options head to M&S food, Waitrose or Fenwick’s Food Hall, where you’ll find deli counters, fresh seafood, butchers, delicacies, bakeries and organic fruit and vegetables.
4. Decorate your accommodation and include a bit of local flair
It’s a well-known fact in the UK that students moving to a new city head straight to IKEA for the essentials, and the nearest one is in Gateshead next to the Metro Centre. Stock up on decent quality but reasonably priced homeware, bedding, kitchenware and other essentials.
Other good value shops in Newcastle include BM Homeware, Wilko, and the homeware departments in Primark, New Look, and the slightly pricier Next.
What you will find in Newcastle though are a lot of local shops that customise anything from mugs, tea towels, door stops, coasters and so on with a Geordie (relating to Tyneside, the region Newcastle is in) theme. Geordie Gifts at the Grainger Market is a great place for these little knick knacks, and so are the stalls at the Quayside Market on Sundays.
5. Discover the city
From where you are staying find the nearest everything – the metro stop, shop, taxi rank, and café with free WiFi. It’s also worth doing your journey to your university to see how long it will take you.
Take advantage of the time you have spare before lectures and uni commitments gain momentum by discovering what the city has to offer. Head to the shops in Eldon Square, most of which will have student offers for the first few weeks on everything from clothes to stationary and uni supplies.
Venture into the popular student neighbourhoods, each unique in their own way. There are the more affluent suburbs of Jesmond – a great spot for student bars, to the quirky food spots and independent businesses of Heaton. The culturally diverse Fenham, and the up and coming industrial Ouseburn are all great places to meet like-minded students and to find your favourite coffee spot.
Each one has adapted to the influx of students that are attracted to their area every year, and you’ll soon find which ones you’re drawn to.
5 local things unique to Newcastle you can't miss while living there
1. A Newcastle United football match at St. James Park
The football season runs from August to May, with Newcastle United home games at St James’ Park roughly every other weekend, and the occasional midweek evening game.
The city lives and breathes its football team and comes to life on match days. Experiencing the atmosphere and passion that comes from supporting the Magpies (the club’s nickname) is something you have to experience at least once.
Folk songs like the Blaydon Races and Coming Home Newcastle are sung from the stands, and you can get a mag-pie from the kiosk at half time. Win or lose, you’re guaranteed a good afternoon out.
2. A Greggs pastry
The famous food chain, Greggs Bakery, originated in Newcastle more than 80 years ago, and there are now more than 30 stores that sell fresh baked goods daily.
It’s a rite of passage in the city to try a sausage roll, steak bake or pasty – at any time of day or night. They recently introduced the vegan sausage roll, and at Christmas the ‘festive bakes’ fly off the shelves.
Get your loyalty card on your first visit because you’ll probably visit many more times.
3. The Great North Run
A must visit event to experience either as a runner or a bystander is the Great North Run.
The world’s largest half marathon occurs one Sunday in mid-September, attracting huge crowds every year to cheer on the runners.
Mo Farah has won the race a record-breaking five times, so look out for him taking the lead, but one of the most iconic scenes from the race is the runners crossing the Tyne Bridge, usually accompanied by a flyover from the RAF’s red arrows overhead.
4. The Quayside markets
Dating back hundreds of years, the markets are a historical feature of the city, and they even have their own Twitter account - @Nclmarkets. On Sundays, head to the Quayside Market, a great spot for people watching, sample a huge range of multinational street food, and pick up a few bargains.
The quayside is home to some of the best British pubs – Bridge Tavern, Tyne Bar, the Red House and the Broad Chare to name a few. Pay any one of them a visit after you’ve browsed the market stalls for a traditional Sunday roast with all the trimmings.
5. The Hoppings on the Town Moor
The travelling funfair known as the Hoppings comes to Newcastle every June, attracting people of all ages for fun, games and fairground food. Join the locals who flock miles for their annual visit to its location in the Town Moor, the giant park that stretches from Newcastle to Gosforth.
It’s free to attend but you do have to pay a small fee for parking and any rides you go on. It’s worth a visit for the food alone and is a great day out with friends.
Key phrases the locals use
The Geordie dialect is one that takes some getting used to, but hopefully by the end of your time in Newcastle you’ll have tuned into the familiar phrases you’ll hear casually thrown around on the metro, in shops and out and about.
It’s been voted one of the most likeable and friendly accents in the UK. A few of the most commonly used phrases include:
It can be used in almost any situation positively or negatively.
‘Howay the lads!’ is yelled at football matches, ‘howay man!’ is often exclaimed in disbelief, or it’s simply used to tell someone to hurry up.
Whey aye man
This is a positive response to something.
‘Aye’ means yes and is used all the time, ‘whey aye’ is extra reinforcement. The ‘man’ on the end doesn’t mean a literal male human, it can be used on the end of any sentence.
A friendly warm greeting that translates to ‘alright?’ or ‘are you alright’ but doesn’t actually warrant a reply.
It’s a greeting in itself and answering ‘areet’ is the equivalent of both saying hello.
If someone is canny, they’re a friendly nice person.
If something is canny it’s a positive response.
‘Home’. If you’re ‘gan yem’ then you’re going home.
If something is ‘at yem’ then it’s ‘at home’.
‘Do’, often used as ‘what ya deein?’
Most commonly used to mean ‘none’ but can be used as part of the phrase ‘nee way to mean ‘no way?!’
A common Geordie phrase is ‘shy bairns get nowt’, which means shy children who don’t ask for things won’t get them and is used as encouragement or justification for asking for things, especially if it’s a cheeky request.
Giz a deeks
‘Let me see’ or ‘give me a look’.
Terms of endearment that aren’t meant to patronise or offend, they’re genuinely used to be friendly.
Where to take visitors
While you’ll quickly adjust to life in this Northern city, when you have visitors from home it might be nice to spend your time a little differently. Everyone needs a break from uni work occasionally!
Of course, show them the quayside, Grey Street and your favourite haunts, but visitors give you the chance to explore sights a bit further afield too.
Jesmond beyond Osborne Road
There’s a lot more to Jesmond than the student bars and cafes that can be found on Osborne Road. It has some of the most delicious dining experiences in the north east, including high end restaurants like Branches, Peace & Loaf, or The Valley, an award-winning Indian restaurant. Or for something cheap and cheerful head to Francesca’s, an Italian that you can’t book and will have to queue for but is absolutely worth the wait.
Browse the boutique shops of Acorn Road and Brentwood Avenue, spend time in the beauty salons of Julie Carter Beauty or the Jesmond Beauty Clinic, or enjoy the independent offerings on Clayton Road. Jesmond Dene is a calm oasis, with woodland walks, a waterfall and beautiful scenery.
A day at the coast
From the city centre you can be at the North East coastline within half an hour, and there are so many little towns to discover. Tynemouth should be a priority, where you simply have to get fish and chips from Marshalls, or right on the beach at Riley’s Fish Shack.
There’s a market in the station that’s on at weekends, but there’s plenty of other little shops and cafes on Front Street. Try the tapas at Allards or Ora, they’re unbelievable.
On sunny days Tynemouth Long Sands beach is a haven for beach goers enjoying a walk and an ice cream. Whatever the weather, you’ll always find surfers among the waves.
Gateshead and The Angel of the North
On the other side of the River Tyne is the city of Gateshead, and it’s here you’ll find the famous Angel of the North, a giant sculpture that’s a landmark for the north east.
It’s a short drive from Newcastle, and you can walk right up to it. Follow your visit with a pub lunch at The Angel Inn, which also offers scenic views of both the Angel and the countryside.
Saltwell Park is also in Gateshead, and frequently holds events and entertainment. One of the most popular times for the park is Bonfire Night, where they put on a huge free firework display and bonfire.
Your Graduation Meal
Newcastle’s finer restaurants might not be within budget a lot of the time, but when it comes to your end of year or graduation celebration it’s time to splash out.
Some of the best restaurants for occasions are right on your doorstep in the city, including Newcastle’s only Michelin Star restaurant, House of Tides.
Other great options include Dobson & Parnell, named after two of the cities famous architects, Café 21, often coming top of the best restaurants in Newcastle lists, Landmark in Chinatown, Aveika for Japanese food, and Tomahawk steak restaurant.
All of them offer excellent quality dining experiences and are a great way to round off your time spent in Newcastle.
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