Finding accommodation can often be the most stressful part of moving abroad. You need to start searching on time if you want to get the right combination of location, price and great flatmates. However, with all processes regarding university applications, getting all the papers together and buying your airplane tickets, accommodation can often be at the bottom of your priorities list.
Don’t worry, even if you start looking for your student accommodation at the last minute, there are still plenty of options you can choose from. Two main options students in the UK use as their abroad homes are halls of residence (student halls on or off campus) or private house share.
Halls of residence
Halls of residence is the British way of saying student housing or student dormitories. There are two types of halls, the ones offered by the university itself and private ones usually located outside the campus.
They usually consist of 5-10 rooms on one floor sharing a kitchen and living room or any other type of common area. Most of these rooms have either their own bathroom/toilet or they share it with a room next door. There are plenty of room types you can choose from, single room, double room, deluxe room, all depending on the budget available to you.
Great thing about halls of residence is that you are surrounded by students and therefore more likely to gain some new friends. Another great thing is that in most cases (especially if it’s University halls of residence) they’re located on the campus which means you can avoid everyday commute and public transport, wake up 10 minutes before the lecture and still be on time.
In the UK you can choose from catered or non-catered halls of residence. In catered halls, you get three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and you still have a common kitchen at your disposal if you get hungry in between those meals.
The price of the room does not vary depending on whether it’s held by a university or if it’s private, but you are likely to pay more if you choose the catered option.
Most of the application options for university halls of residence are automatically sent as a newspaper to your email once you have been offered to study at the university. Which means you should apply as soon as possible if you want to save a place on campus as the room numbers are limited. If you get accepted, in most cases you will need to pay the rent in advance. It can be either six months in advance, or the whole academic year, depending on the accommodation.
If for any reason you choose to live in a private house, there are a number of options for that too.
Most of the houses become available in June, once the academic year and all the exams have ended. Students tend to go home during the summer and therefore leave their current accommodations.
If you already have some friends you would like to live with, that makes the job a bit easier since you already know your flatmates and you can search for a house together.
If you’re coming alone and want to live in a house, that’s okay as well because there are many other people in that situation as well, looking for both a house and flatmates.
The best place to start your search with is SpareRoom web page where you can find everything you need. Just define your search, whether it is a flat or a house, single room, double room, flatmates, literally anything. Thanks to SpareRoom, I found my house and flatmates too!
Another web page that offers not just house rentals but other second hand stuff as well (in case you need some furniture for example) is Gumtree. Both of these pages work throughout the UK, no matter where you choose to study. Another option is Facebook market, which often makes the communication with the landlord much easier and you get to see their profile.
Even though that can be hard especially if you’re moving from far away, the advice is not to pay anything in advance if you haven’t seen the property or you haven’t met the landlord in person. Make sure the place you want to rent is legit, taking in account its location, size, price or anything else you may find important.
Feel free to take some stuff that will make you feel more like home. Even if it is a teddy bear. Once you move in and settle, get to know the people you share your living space with, you’ll feel much more comfortable and ready for all the university tasks ahead of you.