Studying in London? Start your search for accommodation with these handy tips.

London is a fantastic city to live in. With sprawling green parks, cultural attractions and a lively social scene, the British capital has a lot of offer students. However, moving to a new city presents many challenges, one of which being finding somewhere to live (which is often stressful and time-consuming). If you’re new to London it can be difficult to know where to start when looking for accommodation. Here’s 7 useful tips for finding student accommodation in London:

1. What are you looking for?

A good place to start is by broadly considering what you are looking for. Think about your non-negotiables so that you can rule out certain options when you begin your search. Do you just need one bedroom? Are you looking for a shared house? Is it important that you live in Central London? Do you need to be close to a tube station?

2. Research your options

Halls of Residence: Living in halls is recommended in your first year as it is a great way to make new friends and socialise. You can choose to be catered or self-catered and there are different room options (e.g. double, single, ensuite). The deadline for applications is usually in late June, but double check and get your application in early. Whilst the majority of places in halls are reserved for first years, if you in a different year or are a postgraduate student you may still be able to get a room. Contact your university to find out.

Private Accommodation: If you get a place through clearing or missed out on a place in halls there is also a wealth of private accommodation available. Similar to university halls, private accommodation has standard and en suite room options and communal areas but benefits from 24-hour security and more facilities.

Renting a room: Popular amongst students in their second year of study onwards, renting a room, flat, or house involves slightly more research. Check out all the details such as whether the property will be fully furnished when you move in. If you do not have a group of people to live with there are plenty of rooms in existing house and flat shares. Bear in mind that as a student you do not have to pay council tax, so living with fellow students may make things easier. You can either visit a local estate agent or search online for rooms - there are lots of websites advertising rooms to rent such as Spareroom.

University halls of residence bedroom

3. ACT quickly

Make sure that you start researching your accommodation options as early as possible. Things move fast in London and properties and rooms will not stay on the market for long, so if you’re looking for private accommodation, unfortunately you won’t be able to find anything that far in advance. Be prepared and have an idea of what you are looking for beforehand, then you’ll feel more comfortable acting quickly. Think about local facilities, transportation and the safety of an area. Trust your instincts - if you see a place you like the look of, arrange a viewing.

4. Location location location

The cost of rent varies by location so it's important that you do some research and find out what you can get for your money - the closer you are to central London, the higher the cost. Narrow down your search to a few areas and set your budget accordingly, and don’t forget to account for transport costs. It may be worth choosing a less central location (you’ll find much cheaper accommodation in zones 3-6) and commuting to university by train, tube or bus. Ask around; your friends and family may be able to recommend places worth checking out (or ones to avoid...).

Things to consider:

  • Distance from university
  • Travel costs
  • The safety of an area
  • Local amenities

Student transport in London

5. Accommodation costs

We can’t avoid it any longer…

What is the average cost of accommodation in London? To live in halls of residence you will be looking at paying anything from around £130-£300 per week (including bills) depending on whether you have a standard, en-suite or studio room. The price range of private accommodation is more costly at around £160-£400 per week, again depending on the type of room you select. The cost of renting a room varies greatly on what zone you live in but realistically, you’ll be spending at least £150 per week, not including bills.

The best way to save money on accommodation is by going for the cheapest room option in halls and choosing not to live in the city centre. The good news is that as a student in London you are entitled to a bigger maintenance loan!

6. Find out what’s included in the price

Clarify what is included in the advertised cost of accommodation. Once utility bills and agency fees are accounted for it may be significantly better than you first realised! Unfortunately, agency fees can be costly so enquire about this before making any decisions.

7. Be careful

  • Always organise a viewing before you sign a contract (not applicable to halls of residence).
  • If you decide to live in a shared house with people you don’t know, make sure you meet them before moving in.
  • Ask as many questions as you can think of or you may live to regret it!
  • Before you make any payments, meet the landlord in person
  • Go through the inventory and make a note of any discrepancies to bring to the landlord's attention - it will save you paying for any damage which you are not responsible for.
Did you find this article useful? Check out A Guide to Applying For Student Finance, What To Do After University: Your Options or Dissertation Tips: How to Survive Your Dissertation Deadline!

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Not quite right about the applying early!

If you're looking for a house/private accommodation, because London moves so quickly, you won't find anything available that far in advance. 

You will be able to find a house/flat in May/June for your course starting in September, this is good as you don't have to commit to living with friends you made in the first week like at other universities. 

Source: Uni student in London 

Thanks for the feedback Toby! Made a slight amendment to make that point a bit clearer. 

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