Updated 6 days ago

With a wide range of accommodation offers such as university halls, private accommodation, flatshare, and homestay, students looking for a place in London will be spoiled for choice. Besides websites where you can browse through thousands of trusted properties, you can also make your preferences available to letting agents or search in your universitys forum for advertised places or other students who are looking for housemates. Regardless of your budget and priorities, we can all agree that a friendly and comfortable environment is what we have in mind when searching for a place to call home.

Types of student accommodation

University halls of residence

University halls of residence are the most sought-after type of accommodation for international students. Living in university halls comes with many benefits such as a diverse and active community, all-inclusive rent, which may save you up to £100 on utility and wi-fi bills, 24-hour reception service, and central location close to London landmarks and the university. Residence advisers, who are also residents in the halls, are elected to look after the residential life and well-being of all students; they organise social events, welcome new students, and raise concerns to members of staff. Generally speaking, university halls offer better value for money, with prices ranging between £130 to £340 per week, depending on the type of room (standard, en-suite, or studio).

 Important:

University halls of residence usually give priority to undergraduate students with fewer places allocated to postgraduate students.

 Important:

If you are a student with disabilities or you are bringing your partner and children with you, contact your university in advance to check with them what adjustments they can make to accommodate your individual needs (e.g. location, furniture, safety aids, etc.).

 Good to know:

The application for halls of residence owned and run by the university is made directly via the university.

 Good to know:

Some universities offer short-term accommodation in their halls during the summer, for the students who take language or foundation courses, and during the winter and spring holidays for those who aren’t returning home.

 Useful links:

UCL halls of residence
King’s College residences
Queen Mary University of London residences

Private halls of residence

The difference between university and private halls of residence is that the latter is not owned or run by the universities; they are independent and privately operated. If you are looking for the community and safety feel that halls offer, but you couldn’t get yourself a place in the university halls, private halls are your best alternative. Most of these halls have new amenities and have a gym, library, and study rooms, which means that you should expect them to be pricier than university halls. Prices start from £160 per week for a standard self-catered room and may reach up to £500 per week for a self-catered studio.

 Good to know:

Charity halls of residence in London are affiliated to a religion or a non-governmental organisation, and are among the cheapest and most desirable options. Charity halls may have limitations such as age, gender, etc.

 Useful links:

LSE independently managed hall of residence
University of London Housing Services
Unilodgers
Chester House charity residence
Ashwell House for female students
Lee Abbey London
Nansen Village in North London
Zebra Housing for International Students

Private accommodation

If you are a more mature student about to enrol to a postgraduate or doctorate, you have probably lived in student halls before, and feel ready to take on these extra responsibilities that come along with living on your own. You are free to decorate the space according to your personality and taste, but you must also be in charge of paying your bills, keeping your space clean, and dealing with your landlord. If you worry that private accommodation may limit your social life, let us reassure you that there are many students in London living on their own, and they too are fond of meeting new people at the university or during extracurricular activities and at parties. The cost of private accommodation depends on the location, size, and facilities of the flat, but generally speaking, this might be the pricier from all options; especially if you live further away from the campus and you have to commute every day. To find out more about the different residential areas in London and the rental costs, check out our related articles.

 Attention:

When searching for a private place, keep your eyes open for accommodation scams and online fraud. Being urged to transfer money without having seen the property or give your personal information are possible signs of fraud.

Flat or house-share

Do you want the best of two worlds? Flat or house share is something in between living in the halls and renting your own apartment. On the one hand, you have the freedom and flexibility to choose the London neighbourhood, type of place (e.g. house with a yard vs modern flat), and the length of your tenancy, and on the other hand, you get to live with other students with whom you share a similar lifestyle. Many students prefer to start in the student halls, and once they have created their close group of friends, they move together in a shared house before the beginning of the second year. However, keep in mind that it’s not guaranteed that best friends make the best housemates too; unfortunately, many friendships have ended due to ugly house disputes over late-night noise or cleanliness.

Tip:

Flat or house-share can be found through word of mouth and on-campus notice boards.

 Useful links:

Spare Room London
Roomster London
Room Buddies London

Homestay

Students live with a family, which becomes their host family, and they don’t only secure accommodation while in London but also the support of a caring family, with whom they may create a strong, lasting bond. A homestay is ideal, if you wish to immerse yourself into the London culture fully — you get to practice conversational English, which is very different from the academic English language you use in class, and you gain an insight into the everyday life of a London family, including their eating habits, leisure activities, and household chores routine. Depending on the agreement with your host family, you will get from one to three meals per day and you are provided with everything you will need such as sheets and towels. However, you are responsible for keeping your room clean and cleaning after yourself in the common areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, and living room. Some of the cons of a homestay are that you have less privacy, as no matter how welcoming and warm your host family is, you may always feel like a guest in someone else’s home. Also, living in a homestay means that you have to follow specific house rules; for example, you may be expected to be at home every evening by six o’ clock for dinner, or you may not be allowed to have friends over. Homestay is one of the most affordable options in London with prices ranging from £135 to £260 per week depending on the location of your homestay and the type of room they offer. In any case, all utilities and meals are included in the rent price.

 Attention:

There aren’t many homestays in the centre of London, so note that you may live quite far out, and you may have a long daily commute to university.

 Good to know:

If you worry about what kind of family you will be matched with, note that the homestay company will ask you many questions (e.g. whether you have food allergies, like pets, have disabilities, mind children, etc.) to make sure they find the right homestay for you.

Tip:

The parents of younger students usually see the homestay as a safer option and smoother transition from living at home to being alone abroad. Indeed, it’s a good idea for the students who are moving to London for short-term programs such as an exchange program, a study abroad program, or an English language program.

Tip:

To show your appreciation for welcoming you to their home, you can bring a gift to your host family upon your arrival. To maintain a good relationship, take the initiative to do some household chores, prepare a meal for the family, or stop by the supermarket on your way home. Of course, if there’s anything that makes you uncomfortable during your stay, communicate it to them in a polite manner.

 Useful links:

London Homestays
UK Homestay
HFS London

Viewing and signing up for private student accommodation

Accommodation in London is plenty, expensive, and often of low standards. To avoid being ripped off, don’t rush into signing up for the first house you see, but view as many places as possible, and finally commit to the place that has the best vibes and matches your budget. Before start viewing properties, consider the following: are you willing to deal directly with the landlord or do you prefer to go through a letting agent? An agency saves you a lot of time, as they skim through the many available houses, and only show you the ones that are most likely to catch your attention. However, being in direct touch with your landlord saves you from misunderstandings that an intermediate person (aka the agent) may cause.

 Important:

To make renting fairer and more transparent, from 2019 the government is expected to ban letting fees paid to agents and reassures tenants that the deposit may be equivalent to six week’s rent but no more than that.

 Good to know:

Most universities have a list of assessed landlords, who are registered with the university.

When start the viewing process look for (covered up) signs of damp and black mould, which can lead to severe health problems such as asthma and allergies. Also, keep an eye for mice, rat, or cockroach infestations, which are not uncommon in London, especially if living spaces haven’t been kept clean by the previous tenants. Other things to consider are the transport links and cost of travel; proximity to markets, hospital, and nightlife, and the crime rates of the area — ask your landlord to change the locks if they don’t seem secure enough.

 Important:

If you live in a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), there must be clearly marked emergency exits, as well as fire alarms, extinguishers, and fire blankets.

Tip:

To save on energy bills, question the insulation and the heating system of the house, and look for drafty spots.

Before signing the tenancy agreement and inventory, double check that the stated items are indeed in the house and in good condition. Once you move to the house, good practice suggests taking dated pictures of the house, so that you cannot be blamed and asked to pay for pre-existing damages.

Tip:

Before signing up for a house, try to speak to the previous tenants, who have no reason to be dishonest about the pros and cons of the house.

Once you have concluded to this one place that ticks most, if not all, the boxes, hurry up as you may lose it in the blink of an eye! The first thing you have to do is get your landlord to put everything into writing. Then, you can agree on a moving date that works well for both parties and the payment of the deposit. If there are repairs to be done in the house, make sure that you move in after all the work has been completed and the house cleaned up.

Tip:

If you are moving in with other people, establish how much each person’s monthly rent is, and put someone in charge of the bills and of collecting the rent.

 Useful links:

Met Police crime data London
Registered agents with the University of London
Legal advice and contract checking service offered by the University of London

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.