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Finding your home away from home

You have four main options when looking for a place to live during your studies in the UK.

Depending on your needs – and your budget - you might think of renting a flat, living on campus, staying in a private hall of residence, or living with a local family (homestay). When you first arrive in the UK, you may need to find short-term accommodation such as a ‘bed and breakfast’, a hostel or a hotel.

Living on campus in accommodation owned by your school, college or university (called a hall of residence) can be very convenient, as you won’t need to travel far, and this can be a great way to make new friends. There are privately managed halls of residence which are typically single study bedrooms often arranged within a flat with a shared kitchen/living area. These are generally close to the city centre or your university.

Renting private property, like a flat, gives you privacy if you live alone, or lets you share the cost of accommodation if you live with friends. Whereas a homestay can be a good option if you’re younger, as you get all the comforts of living with a local family.

No matter where you choose to live, you should consider:

  • How much you want to spend. Remember to include extra costs like a rental bond or bills for water, gas and electricity.

  • How far away you want to be – and how easy it would be to travel between home and campus

  • What else you might want nearby, such as shops, 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)

Your school, college or university may offer you accommodation in a hall of residence, where you will have your own bedroom but share facilities such as a kitchen with other students. This can be a great way to make friends quickly and also can be good value for money, too. The majority of halls of residence are owned and managed by the institution themselves, but are some run by private companies. A hall of residence will usually have a staff member living on the premises. They ensure the hall runs smoothly and can provide advice or support to .

Privately managed halls of residence

These are usually single study bedrooms within a flat where you share a kitchen/living area with other residents. They are a safe and secure place to live where students can both study and socialise. They are typically located near the university or the city centre and are fully equipped with most of the things you will need, this includes wifi, study & social areas, and are inclusive of bills and contents insurance.

Private accommodation

In the UK many students live in private rented accommodation. This tends to be more popular with students entering their second year of studies (and beyond). Students either rent a place of their own or sharing with other students. Shared accommodation is very common for students in the UK – this can help to reduce costs as well as be fun and sociable. If thinking of renting, students should consider the cost of utilities (gas, electricity and water bills) and a TV licence. Most student accommodation in the UK is already furnished, but you may need to purchase some items such as kitchen utensils and bedding. When looking for accommodation the landlord / estate agent usually requires significant identification documentation and a deposit. You will usually be asked to sign a lease for any privately rented accommodation.

Homestay accommodation

A homestay is where a student lives with a UK family in the family’s own home. A homestay are very popular with English language students as well as younger students. Homestays can be a way to experience UK culture first-hand. Talk to your school, college or university in order to see if they are able to help you arrange a homestay, or alternatively there are companies such as Hosts International and British Homestays who offer a placement service.

Short-term accommodation

Short-term accommodation can be useful when you first arrive, or if you have visitors coming to see you in the UK such as family or friends. Hotels and ‘bed and breakfasts’ (which are often called ‘B&Bs’, or guesthouses) can be expensive in the long term, but discounts are often available online. Youth hostels and backpacker hostels are a cheaper alternative; again, these can be found online, or your institution may be able to recommend some hostels in your area.

If you would like some help finding accommodation in the UK, contact your university’s housing office or student services.

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