For every new international student going to the UK, August must’ve been the worst month in life! We need to face the uncertainty of our Tier 4 visa and the probability of being homeless. While June was the month of excitement when we plan with our “housemates” where to live, it all change within 2 months due to our frustration being unable to get a home. Places near to our campus was way out of our budget, especially for King’s and LSE students. Fortunately for LSE students, the university residences were more affordable in comparison to Kings’. Getting your own home with your “housemates” seems to be ideal as you think sharing with people from your country would help you in adapting to the UK. Will they really become your housemates? Only fate can answer it (I’m not being too Javanese relying on Takdir, but trust me).
There are 3 option of accommodation which you should try all. So, it’s not really an option, it’s a must try. You’ll never know where you end up.
- Private accommodation.
This is by far the most difficult type of accommodation to find. You must survey the place before you decide! You can ask your friends and families living in London to help you survey the place. For Indonesians, PPI UK offers help on surveying your potential flat. Some of them are only good in pictures. Several of my friends lived in an Airbnb for the first few days, weeks, or months in the UK before settling down for a place to rent. Make sure you learn about London zoning and preferably the postcodes. It is easier to decide on the accommodation when you memorize the postcode system, so you don’t have to go back and forth opening maps. Recommended websites to search on are:
- University hall of residences.
Most universities have their own hall of residences which is allotted through a lottery system. The application for their accommodation should be done around May and June. Be sure to be updated with the deadlines on your university website. Hall of residences are divided into undergrads (UGs) only, postgrads (PGs) only, or a mix of both. If you need to have a quite atmosphere, choose the PGs only. However, based on my experience, the mix accommodation is not too loud at all as they have special floors dedicated for PGs only. Remember to choose based on location and budget. Next, choose the facilities based on your needs. You can’t share a bathroom? Get a en suite room. You want to eat your own food or just like to cook? Get the one that has a kitchen. Can’t cook? Opt for a catered hall.
I’d like to highlight that University of London students has an additional opportunity to choose the University of London intercollegiate hall of residences in lieu of their respective colleges. The application is separate from the college’s halls. Again, based on a lottery system, you can choose your top 3 accommodations. At that time, I chose Connaught Hall, International Hall, and I forgot my 3rd hall. More post are coming up about Connaught Hall.
- Private student housings.
If you want to still have a student ambience with bigger rooms, this type of accommodation would suit you. Most of them offers a studio room which is good for privacy. Although most of the private student housing is pricier compared to university halls, there are also cheaper ones. For example, International Student House which is very affordable with a very central location. You must apply early as it is a favourite among international students. The lottery system might not be used as they’ll choose you based on your essay and CV. Yes, it’s that serious. Another affordable option is Helen Graham House, which is in front of the British Museum. I also looked up at Urbanest Westminster Bridge which has the most beautiful view, strategic location, and lots of facilities. Unfortunately, I was too late to apply as I prioritise on getting a shared flat.
By the end of August, I couldn’t find a shared flat with my housemates which sadly didn’t became my housemates at the end. Fearing to be homeless, I chose Connaught Hall. I felt sorry to abandon my housemates, but luckily, they also got offers from King’s residences. Lessons learned: apply to as many residences as you can as you might not get your priority choice of accommodation. Based on my friends’ experiences, choose the safe option by agreeing on university or private student housings offers when you couldn’t get a shared flat by the end of August. The hustle of moving from Airbnb to your actual rented place is just too much to bear.