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How to Get Cheap Student Accommodation in the UK

Hi everyone, welcome back!

If you plan on studying in the UK, not going to lie - finding student accommodation can be quite a nightmare. It’s probably as difficult as actually getting admission. In 2023, 63% of students struggled to find the money to pay accommodation costs, and two in five considered dropping out due to rent or bills.

Well, the good news is that I’m here to help you sort it out. By the end of this blog post, you’ll know exactly how to get affordable student accommodation in the UK and what to keep in mind.

Challenges with Finding Student Housing in the UK

Here’s the thing: there are more students in the UK than there is student accommodation. Unfortunately, that’s the hard truth. The UK currently needs more than 230,000 extra beds to accommodate all its students.

Problems Students Face

And it isn’t just restricted to not being able to find a house. Some of the issues students have listed with their student accommodation include:

  • Scams by fake real estate agents

  • Encounters with rodents or pests in old, poorly maintained properties

  • Inappropriate/unannounced landlord visits

  • Dampness, which often leads to dangerous black mould

  • Lack of water or heating

  • Disruptive building work

  • Issues with break-ins or burglaries

  • Non-functional smoke or carbon monoxide alarms

  • Bed bugs

That being said, there are many good student housing options available. It’s simply a question of booking at the right time and place. One option to consider is Amber, which has properties across the UK. Many of their rooms come with amenities like WiFi, study desks, laundry rooms, and bills included. They also offer a cooling-off period where students are eligible for a refund if they cancel within this period. Some properties have a No Visa No Pay option, allowing you to cancel if your visa is rejected. Additionally, some properties accept international guarantors, which is brilliant for international students who might not know anyone in the UK to vouch for them.

Types of Student Accommodation in the UK

There are different student accommodation options available in the UK, including:

  • University Halls of Residence:

  • Catered Halls (include meal plans)

  • Self-Catered Halls (access to shared kitchens)

  • Private Halls of Residence (similar to university halls but operated by private companies)

  • Shared Houses and Flats

  • Studios and One-Bedroom Flats

  • Homestays (living with a host family)

  • Student Housing Cooperatives (non-profit housing run by students for students)

  • Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA)

  • Lodgings and Rooms in Private Homes

  • Off-Campus Housing (privately rented houses or flats)

How to Get Cheap Accommodation

  1. Be Quick

The most important advice is to be as quick as you can. Accommodation is often first come, first served. For example, a student named Kiera had to switch universities because she couldn’t get housing at Manchester Metropolitan University – the available accommodation was gone in seconds. Most universities offer accommodation bookings after receiving UCAS applications, so check their website for details. Be aware that deadlines for applying are usually well ahead of your course start date, so don’t leave it till the last minute. Many universities have guides on their websites, or you can contact the accommodation office directly. If you can’t attend accommodation open days, look for virtual tours, photos, floor layouts, or speak to current students or alumni. Don’t rely only on your university; be proactive.

  1. Consider Shared Accommodation

Consider living in shared accommodation. The UK can be very expensive when it comes to rents. Do your research to understand the costs of single vs. shared rooms. Even if you prefer privacy, consider a flat share where you share common amenities but have your own room.

  1. Consider Living Away from Central Areas

While living near your university is ideal, it might not always be affordable. The further away you move from central locations, the cheaper your rent will be. Just ensure that your transport costs don’t negate the savings from cheaper rent. For example, a studio apartment in London could cost at least £1200, but living outside London could be substantially cheaper, though you’ll need to factor in commuting costs.

  1. Consider All Your Options

Don’t set your mind on just one type of accommodation. Consider all your options to maximize your chances. If university halls aren’t available, check private student housing websites like Amber, RightMove, SpareRoom, Zoopla, etc. Social media can also be a surprising resource for finding accommodation. Try your student union for guides on reliable local agencies, or student accommodation forums for potential roommates. Always ensure you get a written contract.

  1. Reach Out to NUS

If all else fails, consider reaching out to the National Union of Students (NUS). They offer advice and resources for finding student housing and may have partnerships that offer discounts or deals.

I hope this helps! Drop a comment below if you have any questions on student accommodation in the UK, and I’ll do my best to help. Thanks for reading!

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