There’s a wide variety of safe and modern accommodation on offer for students in the UK. Most universities and colleges have their own dedicated accommodation teams that will help you find the right type of living environment to suit your needs.
Many universities and colleges have halls of residence that are on-site or nearby. If you prefer to rent your own private accommodation, your university or college accommodation office can usually help you. It’s worth getting in touch with them when you receive your offer to find out what your options are and what deadlines you need to be aware of.
Even in shared living accommodation, students usually have a bedroom to themselves, and sometimes an en-suite bathroom.
To help you start planning, the main types of accommodation are outlined below.
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1. University-owned accommodation
Most UK universities offer places for new students in their own university-specific halls of residence. Accommodation in halls can vary from single rooms with shared kitchen and living areas, to self-contained studios.
You can often choose from catered halls (with a dining room where you can either buy cheap meals or have the cost of all meals included in your rent) or self-catered halls (with shared kitchens where you can cook your own food), depending on your preference.
Halls provide a safe and comfortable home-away-from-home that are good value for money, with services like wifi and contents insurance included in the cost of your rent.
Most halls welcome students of all genders, but there are usually also single-sex options available too, for example, designated corridors or shared flats.
In bigger cities, such as London, you can also opt for intercollegiate halls of residence which allow students from different colleges within the University of London, for example, to live together.
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Before signing up to a contract with university halls, make sure you know exactly how long it is for and what the conditions are. For example, check whether your contract will cover staying in your accommodation over the holidays.
2. Private luxury student accommodation
Many UK cities now have private luxury developments built for students. Accommodation ranges from private self-contained studios to apartments. Fully furnished and equipped with designer fixtures and fittings, you can expect cinema rooms, 24-hour security, on-site gyms and round-the-clock concierge services.
It’s worth considering that, as private luxury student developments are not affiliated with particular universities or course providers, it’s very likely that you will be living with people who study at different institutions than you.
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3. Homestay accommodation
A homestay – where you live with a UK family in their home – can be a great opportunity to experience UK culture first-hand. Your university may be able to help you arrange this, or you can contact one of the homestay agencies registered with the British Council.
4. Private rented accommodation
In the UK, it’s common for undergraduate students to live in halls of residence in their first year, then move into private rented accommodation from the second year of their studies onwards.
If you choose to live in private rented accommodation, it will give you a taste of life beyond campus, and the option to choose who you live with. It also gives you more flexibility in choosing where to live.
Most private student accommodation is already furnished, but you may need to provide your own items such as kitchen utensils and bedding. You’ll also need to factor in the costs for travel to your university, utilities, wifi, contents insurance and a TV licence. It’s worth knowing that as a full-time student in the UK, you do not have to pay council tax.
If you can, it’s worth viewing the properties you are looking at before signing a contract and making sure that it will cover the whole time that you will be in the UK.
When to apply
You may be wondering when you should start looking for somewhere to live. This depends on what type of accommodation you want, but you should start thinking about your options as soon as you accept your offer from your university.
Some of the more popular halls of residence will fill up quickly, so if you have a preference for university-owned accommodation, it’s worth signing up for it as soon as possible. Take note of any guidance or deadlines set by your university.
There will always be options available to you if you make your decision to study in the UK at the last minute. You can search for private rented accommodation that starts at a time that suits you, but remember that if you give yourself more time to look, you’ll have more flexibility to choose somewhere that’s right for you.