There are plenty of international student accommodation options to choose from in the UK. The hard part is working out which one is best for you. There’s no right or wrong answer – it just comes down to what will meet your needs and suit your lifestyle.
In this article about accommodation in the UK for international students, we’ll compare the pros and cons of:
- Living on campus
- Moving into off-campus accommodation
- Renting a private flat
- Shared housing.
We’ll use University College London (UCL) and University of Bristol to illustrate how you might go about choosing your international student accommodation for a specific school.
Living on Campus: Pros and Cons
Moving overseas is overwhelming enough already, so it makes sense to consider moving onto campus. Living right there at your university is certainly an easy and convenient option – especially if this will be your first time living away from home.
- Convenient location: No commute to your lectures and tutorials – just roll out of bed and stroll into class
- Affordability: Living on campus is usually one of the cheapest options available for international student accommodation
- Great for social life: You’ll be living right in the thick of the action, which means it’s easier to make like–minded friends and get involved in student events.
- Shared facilities: You’ll most likely be sharing a kitchen, bathroom and living area with other students
- Less access to the outside world: Living on campus means you might get caught up in the university’s bubble – don’t forget to get out and explore the rest of the city while you’re here
- Basic interiors and amenities: Some on-campus accommodations are nice, but others are run-down or come with very basic facilities and appliances.
- UCL has 26 accommodation halls, each with a unique character, offering student dorms in London to 6,000 students or so. Living at UCL puts you right in the centre of the city
- Bristol offers residences to both undergraduates and postgraduates. Students living on campus enjoy 24-hour security, sporting and music activities, pastoral support, and an exciting social calendar.
Most universities offer similar options for student housing in the UK.
Off-Campus Student Housing in the UK: Pros and Cons
Privately run UK student houses provide many of the benefits of on-campus living – without the feeling of being constantly at school. These facilities are also popular among international students, which means you’ll have a familiar community to help you fight off any homesickness.
- Middle-ground location: Dedicated student accommodation is usually positioned conveniently close to the university while also being within easy reach of the city, public transport options, and other amenities
- Student community: You’ll be living with other students, which creates plenty of opportunities to make friends and take part in social events
- Modern interiors with nice facilities: Student accommodation centres are typically built with attractive designs and luxuries such as media rooms, gyms and communal study areas.
- Costs: The rent off campus is typically higher than on-campus residences, and you might pay a little for public transport every day
- A little bit of travel required: It might only be a 10-minute walk or 5-minute bus trip, but any commute can add up if you’re doing it every day.
- There are several international student houses in London located near UCL, along with all the university’s owned residence halls. Off-campus student housing options in London include Liberty House, James Lighthill House and Victoria Hall King’s Cross
- Similarly, there are student houses all over Bristol including Vita Student, Unite Students, Hello, iQ and Yelland House. There are also student lettings agents in Bristol who can help you find suitable accommodation (such as Rightmove and Bristol Student Lets).
No matter which UK university you’re planning to attend, there will be off-campus accommodation and letting agents available to help you.
Private Flats: Pros and Cons
Not so interested in student life? Prefer privacy over socialising? A solo apartment might be the way to go.
- Independence: Nothing proves you’re a self-sufficient adult like living alone in your own flat. Having a place to yourself helps you learn to support yourself
- Privacy: Living in an apartment gives you space to do your own thing without any judgement or annoying waits for the bathroom
- Design flexibility: You get to choose the furniture and decorations, so your accommodation can feel more like a home.
- Travel: Unless you find a flat right next to your university, expect to spend some time in transit every day
- Costs: Living alone is a luxury that leaves you solely responsible for all your expenses (e.g. rent, bills, groceries)
- Isolation: You’ll need to make more of an effort to attend social functions in order to avoid feelings of loneliness creeping in.
Shared Student Housing in the UK: Pros and Cons
Want the authority of arranging your own accommodation without the loneliness of living by yourself? Consider sharing a private house or flat with several other students.
- Split costs: Everyone chips in for the household expenses, which puts less financial burden on everyone (assuming everyone is responsible and prompt with their contributions)
- Balance of privacy and social life: A shared house comes with some seclusion when you want it, but people to play games or study with are never far away.
- Mixed quality of houses: Share houses aren’t always left in the best condition by previous tenants
- Disagreements: Things can get a little awkward if personalities clash or the habits of your housemates get on your nerves.
Remember: there’s no “bad” choice. You just need to weigh up your options and work out which type of international student accommodation will work best for you while you’re studying in the UK.