There are various options for accommodation available for international students in the UK. Your choice of accommodation will depend on factors like your budget, if you like to cook for yourself and whether you wish to live on your own or in the university halls of residence.
It is important to do your research in advance as you will normally have to indicate whether you will require accommodation at a fairly early stage. Luckily, If you have ‘missed’ organising something in advance, international students are usually given priority.
Catered Halls of Residence
Halls usually consist of rooms or flats, which can be single or shared. There will be some basic furniture, and some may even have en-suite bathrooms. Those without private bathrooms will have communal bathrooms available.
Catered halls is a great way to meet new people, and it can be a fun introduction to the local food culture. There is a number of different types of halls, so if you have a preference for single- or mixed-sex residence, you should let university know early on.
Most halls will have communal areas available, including common rooms with things like TVs, games and pool tables. Some may even have a student-run bar, as it is legal to drink alcohol at the age of 18 in the UK.
Self-Catered Halls of Residence
Self-catered halls are similar to catered halls, and many international students go for this option, because it allows them to cook their own food on their own schedule.
Flats or House
Most frequently, students decide to live in a hall during their first year as it makes adjusting to campus life simpler. That way, they don’t need to worry about the wide variety of bills (such as water, electricity and Internet) that comes with renting a flat or a house, and they will have an accommodation housekeeper to help with the cleaning. In addition, university accommodation can help with making friends by giving students from different nationalities many opportunities to get to know each other.
Likewise, it is common for students to move into a flat or a house off-campus in their second or third year, after they already have friends to live with and are better adjusted to university life.
Rent prices for a private flat or a house are generally cheaper than university accommodation; however, it varies greatly depending on factors such as location, size and whether or not it’s furnished. One thing that needs to be considered is that the contract length for a private flat or a house is usually 12 months (52 weeks), whereas the contract length for university accommodation is tailored to your course length, which could make the total costs less than any other option. Furthermore, you may find that it is not easy to find accommodation close to campus. In spite of these potential issues, many students like the freedom given to them by living where they want to, with people they know they like and in the type of building they prefer. With halls, you don't always have that flexibility.
If you do move into a private flat or a house, you will have to sign a tenancy agreement, which is a legal document outlining the terms of tenancy. Be very careful to make sure that you fully understand the terms and conditions of the contract, and if you have any doubts, you can talk to your international student advisor who can assist you in the rental process.