Finding your home away from home
You have four main options when it comes to finding a place to stay during your studies.
Depending on what you need – and your budget - you might choose to rent a flat, live on campus, live in a private hall of residence, or live with a local family (homestay). You might also need to find short-term accommodation such as a hotel, hostel or ‘bed and breakfast’ when you first arrive.
Living on campus in accommodation owned by your school, college or university (a hall of residence) can be convenient, as you don’t need to travel far, and also a great way to make new friends. Privately managed halls of residence are typically single study bedrooms arranged in flats with a shared kitchen/living area, located close to city centres or universities.
Renting a property gives you privacy if you live alone, or lets you share the cost of accommodation if you live with friends. A homestay might be a good option if you’re younger, as you get all the comforts of living with a local family.
No matter which option you’re looking at, you should keep in mind:
- How much you want to spend. Don’t forget to include extra costs like a rental bond or bills for electricity, gas or water.
- How far away you want to be – and how easy it is to travel between home and campus.
- What else you might want close by, such as shopping centres, restaurants and health services.
There are many different accommodation options for you to consider across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The most common are:
- accommodation owned by the school, college or university such as boarding schools.
- privately managed halls of residence.
- private accommodation.
- homestay accommodation.
- short-term accommodation.
Halls of residence
(Accommodation owned by your school, college or university)
You may be offered accommodation in a hall of residence, where you will have your own bedroom but share facilities such as the kitchen with other students. This can be a fantastic way to make friends and is often good value for money, too. Most halls of residence are owned and managed by universities themselves, but many are run by private companies. A hall of residence usually has a member of staff living on the premises. They are there to check the hall runs smoothly and to provide advice or support.
Privately managed halls of residence
These are typically single study bedrooms arranged in flats with a shared kitchen/living area. They are safe, secure homes where students can study and socialise in comfort. They are usually located near city centres or universities and come fully equipped with most things you will need, including wifi, and are inclusive of bills, contents insurance, study space and social areas.
Many UK students live in private rented accommodation. This is especially popular for students in the second year of their studies and onwards. Students can rent a place on their own or share with other students. Sharing is common for students in the UK – it can help to reduce costs and can be fun and sociable. If planning to rent, students should think about costs for utilities (gas, electricity and water) and a TV licence. Most student accommodation is already furnished, but you may need to buy items such as kitchen utensils and bedding. Landlords and/or estate agents will generally require significant identification, documentation and deposits as part of the application process. Any properties that are rented privately typically require a signed lease.
A ‘homestay’ is where a student lives with a UK family in their own home. Homestays are especially popular with English language students and younger students. They can be a great opportunity to experience UK culture first-hand. You should talk to your school, college or university to see if they can help you arrange this, or try companies such as Hosts International and British Homestays.
When you first arrive, or if you have any family or friends coming to visit in the UK, you may need to find short-term accommodation. Hotels and ‘bed and breakfasts’ (often called ‘B&Bs’, or guesthouses) can sometimes be expensive, but discounts can be found online. Youth hostels and backpacker hostels are often a cheap alternative; again, these can often be found online, or your institution may be able to recommend hostels in the area.
If you need help finding accommodation in the UK, get in touch with your university’s housing office or student services.