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How to Find Student Accommodation in London

How to Find Student Accommodation in London main image

Planning to study in London? You won’t regret your decision! Universities in London include many of the most prestigious universities in the UK, and the whole world for that matter. Moreover, London is ranked the second best student city in the world, according to the latest edition of the QS Best Student Cities.

Yes, the British capital has it all – from illustrious universities to renowned nightclubs, and from leafy green parks to gleaming skyscrapers. However, international students often struggle to find student accommodation in London. The city has numerous properties to offer, but there are even more people waiting to rent them. Competition is fierce and you need to be prepared, and know where to look in order to find something quickly. Note that London is quite an expensive place to live, and the rent is likely to be much higher than in your home country. Don’t despair; read our guide for some useful tips on how to find student accommodation in London.

Student halls in London

The most obvious option for students is renting a room in student halls. This has its pros and cons, but overall it is not a bad idea to spend at least one year living like a proper student. Student halls are usually more expensive than the average prices of rooms in shared flats, but they are designed to satisfy every student’s needs. Usually they will have shared facilities and common rooms inside the building, where you can socialize with your peers and meet new people. So living in student halls is a good way to make friends and have a ready-made community, which is very important, especially if you are a foreign student.

There are two types of student halls in London: those which belong to the university, and those which are owned and managed by private companies.

University student halls

University student halls are cheaper than those within the private sector. The good thing about them is that they are usually in or near the university campus, which means you won’t need to travel far or be late in the morning. It’s very convenient living close to university, with constant access to the facilities it offers. Note that the number of rooms within these halls is less than the number of students enrolled, so if you want to secure a room, you need to apply as soon as possible!

Private student halls

If for some reason you missed the deadline for the university student halls, you also have the option of living in a privately managed one. These are more expensive, but they may also offer better conditions and a wider selection of locations. Moreover, they are home to students from different universities, so you’ll have the chance to mix with an even wider selection of people. Here are some of the most popular private student halls in London:

  • APT Student Living – Located in Wembley, neighboring the famous Wembley Stadium and about 20 minutes from the city center on public transport, APT Student Living offers a selection of modern apartments and studio flats. Note that the shared flats are reserved for students enrolled at the University of Westminster, so those studying at other universities in London can only apply for the studio flats. These include a double bed, en suite bathroom and small kitchen. Prices for the studio flats start from £208 (approx. US$340) per week (including bills).
  • Victoria Hall – Victoria Hall is one of the largest private student halls in London, and the company also provides accommodation in other British cities. Its London halls consist of three buildings, located in different parts of the capital. Dashwood Studios (£225pw) and Paris Gardens (£215-409pw) are both located in Zone 1 (the central area of the city), which means they are more expensive due. The third building is situated in Wembley, close to Wembley Park Tube Station. The prices there are about £160-227pw (approx. US$260-370).
  • Independent Student Living (ISL) – This recently established student hall is located in West Hampstead, a calm yet still fairly central location within Zone 2. Independent Student Living is home to more than 300 students from a mixture of universities in London. You can either choose a room in a shared flat, or a self-contained studio. Prices range between £199-319pw (approx. US$325-525).

House/flat shares in London

Alternatively to living in student halls, you may rent a room in a house or flat share – one of the most common types of accommodation in London, for both students and workers. Prices for rooms in a shared house or flat vary depending on the living conditions and location. Rooms in Zone 1 are highly overpriced, so it’s advisable to look for something situated between Zone 2 and 4, in a location with good transport links to your university campus.

There are lots of websites you can use to search for house or flat shares in London (see the list of useful links below), and you can also opt to use the services of a real estate agency. However, note that those require more documents than going directly through the landlord, and will also charge you extra agency fees.

Think very carefully about what you want, plan accordingly and go to as many viewings as possible. If you are unable to attend viewings yourself, ask a friend or a relative who lives in London to do it for you. This is very important, as often the rooms look nothing like the pictures posted on the internet. Never agree to rent a room without seeing it first!

Documents required

The documents required to rent a room may vary depending on various factors. If you book your room directly from the landlord, s/he will usually require much less than an agency would. However, be very careful when contacting landlords and always ask for a written contract. If you decide to use the services of an agency, the documents you will need to provide are: references, which prove that you are enrolled at a university or you have a job in London; UK guarantor form (a UK resident who agrees to pay your rent if you fail to do so); references from previous landlords (if applicable); bank statement; signed rental contract. Note that most private house and flat shares in London require you to pay a deposit equal to one month’s rent (which you will receive back at the end of your contract), in addition to one month’s rent in advance. Other documents and fees may apply depending on the real estate agency or the specific landlord.

Useful links

Here is a list of some useful websites which list advertisements of available rooms, houses and flat shares in London. Note that some of the ads in these websites may be scams; always proceed with caution.

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Written by Vyara Pancheva
Vyara is a journalism graduate from the University of Westminster in London and currently an aspiring writer and blogger. She has produced a couple of video documentaries and has written pieces for several websites. Originally from Bulgaria, she is now living in London and loving it a lot! Rock music, sci-fi movies and travelling are amongst her biggest passions.

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