There’s an array of student accommodation options in London to suit everyone’s needs. Whilst first-year students are likely to go straight into halls, there is private housing for those who couldn’t get a place or are in later years. Whatever stage you’re at, we’ll provide you with essential information on what you need to consider and what you should expect from your student accommodation experience in London.
Types of student accommodation
If you’re uncertain about the best type of accommodation for you, know that all have positives and will undoubtedly provide you with an exciting living experience during your time at university. We’ll start with the most common option for first-year students:
Each university will have its own collection of university halls to choose from. They will vary on price and location and usually only cater for first-year students. Some universities do provide halls for mature students on postgraduate courses, so keep that in mind when considering your move.
The first thing you need to consider is whether the halls are catered or not. Typically, catered halls will cost more as you’re guaranteed daily meals included in the rental price. This is a fantastic option if you’re not confident with cooking. This can also be an excellent opportunity to meet people and socialise as you’ll often get your meals in groups at set times.
The other option is self-catered accommodation where you are responsible for your own catering needs. These accommodations are typically cheaper than the alternative and mean that you’ll be sharing a kitchen with fellow students. Always check how many students there are per kitchen, since these can often get messy and put you off cooking at home. In most cases, you’ll be in a contained flat with around six other students, which is excellent for making your first group of friends and making those first few months easier.
The alternative to university halls is private housing. Most universities have a portfolio of houses scattered around the university that you can choose instead of halls. Depending on the size of the property, you’ll usually be sharing it with 7 to 12 students, all of which will be in different years and stages of their university life.
If you’d like to only share with first years or second/third years, check if your university caters for this. Some students prefer halls to be surrounded by a larger community of students. However, you might feel overwhelmed by that arrangement, and in that case, private housing is the perfect solution for you. Private housing is almost always considerably cheaper than university halls, so if you’re on a budget or would rather have more money left over to enjoy London, it’s probably the best option for you.
What you should consider when choosing accommodation
Now that you understand the different types of accommodation available to you, we’ll discuss what you should consider when choosing. You’ll hear some students complain about their living arrangements. Although sometimes it’s down to luck, you can often avoid these situations by being more considerate with your choice.
As a student in London, the first thing you’ll want to consider is location. London is one of the world’s most expensive cities, not just in rental prices but in every other aspect. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to be conveniently located near where you’ll be attending lectures. Take into account your budget and work out how much it will cost you to get to university – do you need to take the tube and bus, or can you walk/cycle?
Accommodations in desirable central locations will also command a premium and, depending on your budget, might leave you with little left to enjoy the city. Remember that as a student in London you’ll also be entitled to a higher student loan, which reflects the increased costs.
Naturally, you’ll want to consider the cost of your student accommodation. We’ve mentioned before that private housing is usually cheaper than university halls. It’s all about what you’re comfortable spending. Perhaps you’ll want to get a part-time job to enable you to get a dream student accommodation, or you might want to find something more affordable and have some funds left to enjoy student life.
Either way, make sure that you can afford the cost of your accommodation, as sometimes the student loan isn’t enough to cover the full price.
Before choosing accommodation, you should research what kind of environment you’ll be living in. There are plenty of great reviews online and students who share their accommodation experiences. Some halls might be better for social life, whilst others might be better suited to those that prefer a less lively environment.
It’s also essential to check reviews for the quality of the accommodation. Typically, older accommodation blocks and housing will be outdated and have issues. If possible, look for accommodation that’s recently been refurbished or built.
University vs private halls
In London, there are plenty of private student accommodation companies that cater for students of any university. Your uni will most likely have a large selection of halls and housing. However you might find that a private company offers a better deal or ideal location for your needs.
Note that these are usually a bit more expensive. Still, the quality is generally better, and issues are resolved much quicker than at uni halls. Either way, know that you’ll often be mixed with students from other unis, which can be great for meeting new people.
What to consider when looking for student housing?
If you’re in your final years of uni or going into your first year with a group of friends, you might look for private housing through an estate agency. There are some things you should consider and be prepared for when doing so, and keeping them in mind could save you time and money in the long run.
Bills and rent
Unlike student-specific housing, you and your housemates will need to organise and set up bills in your home. Note that you are exempt from having to pay council tax as a full-time student. If you feel that putting bills in someone’s name might be difficult, you should find a property that already includes the bills in the rental cost. You’ll only have to set up the internet and TV license in these situations.
Since you are a student, landlords will ask for a guarantor as protection against defaults on rent payments. Typically, you can put a family member as a guarantor; however, some landlords will accept six months rent in advance as an alternative.
There are also guarantor services in London for international students that might not have someone to be their guarantor in the UK. These companies will act as your guarantor for a monthly price.
Your landlord is responsible for making the property habitable and safe. This means that any issues relating to heating, hot water, hob, oven, and security must be repaired by the landlord. If your landlord refuses to fix these problems, you are entitled to seek action.
Usually, the best properties are owned by a landlord with experience of renting to students. Especially as they’ll know what’s required of them and typically have a team to work with.
On the other hand, you’ll be responsible for ensuring the property is left in good condition. If you damage the property or the inventory provided by the landlord, you’ll be liable to replace/repair it. This will usually come out of your security deposit.
It’s important to remember that, although you aren’t in university-provided accommodation, they are still responsible for providing you with support if something goes wrong. This means that if a landlord refuses to give your deposit back or is demanding more money than what you agreed on in the contract, the university will provide legal assistance.
In reality, your student property will likely not be perfect. Still, you don’t want to move into the first property you see. Make sure you consider the property’s condition and that it’s up to your living standards.
London student costs overview
To give you a better idea of what you’ll be spending and to help you choose accommodation according to your budget, we’ve provided an overview of the average student costs in London. Note that this will, of course, depend on your habits and requirements. LSE, for example, recommends that students budget £1,000 to £1,200 per month for all expenses. However, you might have less or more to work with.
Rent and utilities
As previously mentioned, how much you pay will depend on what area you want and what type of accommodation you choose.
The average property rental price in London currently stands at £1,752 per month. Of course, as a student, this figure will be much lower. Catered accommodation will cost you between £900 and £1,200 per month, whilst self-catered accommodation can cost between £600 and £1,000.
Private student housing and renting a room will work out cheaper at around £300 to £800 per month depending on location. Remember to factor in other costs to determine which type is best price-wise.
One of the advantages of living in London is that you have excellent transport links anywhere you live in the city. However, transport in London is costly, with the underground being the most expensive in the world. A travel card for zones 1, 2, and 3 will cost you £167.10 per month.
On the other hand, a monthly 18+ student bus and tram card will cost you £58.80 per month, making it a far better option in terms of cost. Also, buses tend to go to places that the underground doesn’t cover, so you might find a bus pass more useful.
London is one of the most exciting cities globally, with great entertainment at your doorstep. However, it’s also one of the most expensive cities to enjoy yourself, so careful planning is recommended.
West end theatre prices will set you back around £50. Although that figure can rise dramatically depending on the seating location. A pint costs on average £5.50, while some attractions, such as the London Eye, Tower of London, and Buckingham palace, will cost between £20 and £25 to visit.
On the other hand, one of the best things about London is that so many museums are free to visit, such as the V&A, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Wallace Collection. There are also beautiful parks and sights that won’t cost you anything.
This will depend on how often you plan to eat out and how much groceries you tend to buy. It’s a good idea to budget around £150 per month for your groceries to ensure you’re getting what you need.
Eating out will depend on where you go, but generally, fast food restaurants and Wetherspoons will set you back £10 to £20 per meal. A meal at an independent restaurant will be more expensive, and you should budget around £45. Also, think about any smaller costs you might have on buying lunch at university or buying coffees. These eventually add up and can make a significant dent in your budget.
It’s essential that you factor in your university costs. Most books may be provided by the university. However, you must consider any trips or extra materials you need for the course. International trips are typically subsidised by the university, so they tend to be a great way to visit new locations on a budget.
Finally, it’s important to remember that you’ll have household item costs. It’s not a good idea to forget and find that you haven’t budgeted enough one month for washing powder or detergent. If you’re living in shared accommodation, consider splitting these costs with your household. Generally, buying the big containers in bulk always turns out to be more affordable.
Want more student tips? Head over to our blog for more articles such as Rent Guarantor: Why do you need one?