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Your Guide to Finding Quality Student Housing When Studying Abroad in the UK

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Your Guide to Finding Quality Student Housing When Studying Abroad in the UK

More often than not, study abroad program directors take it upon themselves to help international students find affordable and decent housing. However, for some students, such as those doing direct enrollment, the house hunting process is primarily in their hands. If you are on your own when it comes to securing student accommodation in your host country while you’re still at home, you're probably wondering what your housing options are and, more importantly, how you're going to find housing without actually being in the country. Fortunately, you're not the first person to go through this situation and you're not likely to be the last. Others before you have successfully accomplished the house hunting process from out of country, and it's thanks to them that students, parents and program directors alike have the information they need to find success as well. If you want to find student accommodation that meet your needs, standards and budget, use the information in this post. In addition to informing you of the types of housing available to study abroad students, this guide includes a list of helpful resources and a section that addresses common questions, concerns and considerations that many international students have.

  • Types of Housing Available to Study Abroad Students in the UK

    First and foremost, it's important to have an idea of the type of housing that you want before you begin your search, as this can help you narrow down your options. But how can you determine which type of housing is best for you? To answer that question, ask yourself a few questions: What are your goals for studying abroad? Do you want to fully immerse yourself in UK culture or make friends? Do you want roommates, or would you enjoy a place of your own? How close do you want to be to your campus? Do you have family or family friends in the neighborhood with whom you can stay? Your answers to the above questions should help you determine the type of housing that you want: a student house or apartment (or flat, if you’re in the UK), a homestay or an on-campus dorm.

  • Homestay

    A homestay is exactly what it sounds like: an arrangement in which you stay in someone else's home. Most study abroad programs partner with organizations that look for hosts to take in study abroad students. A host can either be an entire family, a couple or a single individual. The person or people hosting the student go through an intense application process and must pass required background checks before being assigned a student. Part of the qualification process involves proving that the home has a private room for one or two students, at most. The fee for this type of arrangement typically includes rent, food costs and utilities. A homestay arrangement is a great way to immerse yourself in UK culture and to get to know the people who truly inhabit the city you’re studying in. Plus, the food in a homestay arrangement is usually better than what students will find in on-campus cafeterias or restaurants. That said, homestays lack the privacy and freedom that many college-aged individuals desire. When you live with a family, you must abide by its rules. Even if the family doesn't have a ton of rules for you, it can still feel as if you're living with mom and dad when you sneak in at 3 am, or when you're forced to play your music at an appropriate sound level.

  • Student apartments

    Student apartments allow for the most freedom and flexibility. If you opt for an apartment, you have your choice between living in an exchange student complex or a local residents complex. While you might feel more at-home living with other uprooted students, you might enjoy the experience more if you surround yourself with locals. Though you may be uncomfortable at first, immersing yourself in the culture can both help you more quickly improve your language skills and get over your culture shock. That said, living with friends or strangers does come with its fair share of ups and downs. On the one hand, you have your freedom. On the other, you never have any “alone time.” If you just need to get away and relax for a while, you're forced to retreat to your room (if you even have your own room) or leave the student flat. While that alone might not be a huge deal, it can become one if you constantly have the need to get away from roommates with which you don’t jive well. A bad roommate relationship can really put a damper on your overall study abroad experience, which is something you should consider before signing on to live with a stranger. The other thing about apartment living is furniture. If you're only in the country for a semester to a year, it doesn't make sense to invest in a lot of furniture. Yet, you will need a bed, couch and dresser to live comfortably. These are all things offered by on-campus dormitories and homestays.

  • On-campus Student Dormitory

    A student room comes with its fair share of benefits and drawbacks as well. On the one hand, a dorm is the best way to immerse yourself in the student experience and make friends. Dormitories also come fully furnished, and the fee typically includes utilities, internet and even cable (yes, cable TV!). That said, if you're over dorm life, you're probably not too keen to do it all again in another country, and no amount of free Wi-Fi or Gray's Anatomy reruns is bound to change that.

  • Considerations to Keep in Mind

    Whether you're home or abroad, there are always a few risks that come with looking for a new place to call home. From slumlords to scam artists, risks are plentiful, and the last thing you want to deal with during your study abroad adventures is a moldy ceiling or burst pipes. You can avoid scams by doing your research, looking for housing on reputable sites and using plain old common sense. You should also look up the going rate for a student house in the area you want to live in, as well as what areas are safe for tourists and which are not. When looking for housing, there are a few helpful tips that you can implement: Ask the right questions and be wary of vague answers. Ask your landlord about utilities (who is responsible for them?), repairs (again, who is responsible for them?), deposit, lease terms and other questions you deem relevant. If you're looking at an apartment, go around and ask other tenants about their experiences in the complex. Watch out for warning signs. If an apartment listing that you're viewing has the same photos as 10 other listings that are for 10 different complexes, chances are that each one is a scam. If a landlord asks for a deposit before you've had a chance to meet with him or her, it's likely a scam. If a landlord agrees to rent to you without meeting with you first, it's probably a scam. Be wary of the lease. Treat the lease as you would a contract for any long-term housing unit. Review it carefully, look for odd provisions and inquire about conditions that you don't fully understand. The last thing you want is to be kicked out with just a day's notice and, when you go to fight it, find out that you waived your right to advance notice when you signed the lease. Stick to your guns when it comes to rent. If you have a budget in mind, don't let a charming landlord convince you that his or her unit is worth bending your budget for. Remember, you still have to put food in your stomach, books on your desk and clothes on your back. You won't be able to do any of that if you blow your budget on a view of the river and a private terrace. Remember that safety comes first. While you shouldn't blow your budget on a view and private patio, you shouldn't skimp on safety measures either. Your well-being comes first and foremost, so narrow your housing options down first by neighborhoods and then by price.

  • Helpful Resources

    All the advice in the world won't make nice student housing magically appear. This helpful list of resources, however, might: Homestay.com – Homestay.com is a great resource for students and non-students alike. Listings come with daily, weekly and monthly rates, and all Homestay bookings include breakfast. UniversityRooms – If you prefer to live on-campus, you can find student-approved housing via UniversityRooms. UniversityRooms includes listings for dorms in the UK, U.S., Canada, France, Spain and Germany, amongst a few other locations. You can book your stay for just a few days or an entire school year. Beroomers – If apartment living is more your speed, you can find safe housing via Beroomers, which uses user knowledge of host cities and student feedback to curate a collection of affordable housing options. Livety.com – Livety.com is a young startup dedicated to helping students find affordable, clean and safe housing in the UK. Listings include units in Manchester, Bristol, London and a handful of other booming cities. If even after reviewing this guide you still have trouble finding student accommodation, turn to SchoolApply for help. SchoolApply has an abundance of online resources available to help international students make the most of their study abroad experiences.

Levels Explained

  • Bachelor's

    A bachelor's degree (also called a first degree or undergraduate degree) is attained after receiving a post-secondary (high school) education and generally spans four years. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as bachelor or undergraduate students. A bachelor's degree is usually offered at an institution of higher education, such as a university.

  • Master's

    A master’s degree (or postgraduate or graduate education) involves learning and studying for academic or professional degrees. This degree is preceded by a bachelor’s degree and generally takes two years to complete. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as master's, or grad students.

  • Pathway

    Bachelor’s and master’s pathway programs are designed for international students who need additional English language and academic preparation before continuing to a degree program at a university. The purpose of these programs are to give students the confidence and skills needed to succeed in college.

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