London was ranked top city for students in 2018, so it’s no surprise you’ve made the exciting decision to study here! You’re in for an incredible time, but before you start planning all the fun things you’re going to do, you need to find some student accommodation in London. To help make this process less daunting, here are some tips to help you on your quest:
1. Halls of residence
A great first port of call is to go to your chosen institution’s website and search for ‘accommodation services’. Most universities and some colleges have halls of residence (student apartments either on or close to campus). I recommend doing this as soon as possible after your acceptance as halls can often fill up quickly. If staying in halls isn’t an option for you, the accommodation services webpage usually has advice on how to go about finding private accommodation or contact information for staff who can assist you.
2. Think logistics
When picking an area to live, find out what the most direct transport links to your college or uni are from there. Use Transport for London’s journey planner or the Citymapper app to see what your journey looks like from your accommodation to your place of study. Citymapper is fantastic as it tells you the price, duration and any delays for different journey options. My biggest advice is to be sure to factor in your daily travel costs when house hunting as you may think you’ll save money living further away from your college or university only to end up being stung with high travel fares. It’s useful to know that buses are cheaper than the tube and overground trains. London’s tube/train network is divided into travel zones; the more zones you travel across, the more expensive your journey will be. For example, traveling from zone 5-1 costs around £4.70 at peak times. But don’t despair! The good news is that students can get an 18+ Student Oyster Card which will get you discounted travel.
(In case you’re wondering what on earth a ‘flat’ is, it’s the British word for apartment.) Once you’ve settled on a location, websites like spareroom.co.uk and idealflatmate.co.uk are great for finding a room to rent in a share-house/flat with other people. This set up is very common in London. You can filter your search on these sites, say if you only want to live with flatmates of the same gender or non-smokers etc. Another pro is that often the rent for your room will include bills too. Click here for more information on flat sharing and this is a great link on how to flat-share safely.
4. Private rental
If you’re not so keen on sharing a place with people you don’t know, there’s always the option of renting a whole property privately. Be warned, this can be expensive in London as you not only need to pay rent, but bills and estate agent fees for them to do a reference check on you, which can cost anywhere from £40-£200 per person. You’ll also need to pay a deposit in advance (usually one month’s rent). However, if you’re sure this is the option for you, contact estate agents in the area you’re interested in and ask to speak to the rental division. Be as specific as possible about your budget, whether you need furnished/unfurnished, and how close you need to be to transport links etc. This will save you wasting time going to viewings that don’t quite suit your needs.
5. Utilise your network
When I first came to London, I contacted all my social media contacts who live here (even if I hadn’t talked to them in years!) to see if they knew anyone who was looking for a flatmate. This was also a great way to connect with people in the city. Do you know anyone who currently studies or has studied in London before? You could reach out to friends of friends, family members or even family friends. You never know who may be looking to flat share or know someone who’s renting a property. It’s also an idea to join social media groups aimed at people from your country, like if you’re Spanish, you could join a Facebook page like ‘the Spanish Community in London’, where you could potentially find people from your country looking for a flatmate.
That’s all from me, I hope this post has been helpful. All the best finding your perfect student accommodation in London.