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THE UK: Student Accommodation

Student Blog: Finding a spare room

Need to find a place to live and don't know how to start? Ioana tells us her experience searching for accommodation and offers seven tips she can recommend.


'I could write an entire book on this subject, honestly. I knew it was going to be difficult, especially considering that I had never looked for a place to live in my life. I imagined that being in a new city, in a different country might be a problem. Little did I know...

Maybe it was my fault too, but I never thought that I had to see more than 25 places to find just one. I was looking for a room in a shared flat, preferably with people my age, central and quite reasonable.

First, I started looking on one website dedicated to housing, and then it became two websites, then four. Not only that, but I posted ads on three different websites as well. I have seen all kinds of places and people, including 50-year-olds who received me in their underwear and seemed to have a shrine of students' rooms surrounding their bedroom (aka the living room)!

I got all kinds of phone calls, including from women who were living with their daughters on the outskirts of the city and who liked telling me their whole life on the phone. It was an interesting experience, indeed...

Finally, after a 2 week search, I managed to find a room, which was very central and within my budget! Fourth floor with no elevator, my room has no light and no heating, the flat has no living room or common space and bugs are sometimes crawling in the kitchen, but I guess I'm lucky, right? It is my little space now. And the only reason I got it was because I was there first and said "I want it".


Anyway, I can now say I have a little bit of experience in house-searching. So here are seven important tips for you:


1. Start looking early and save your findings

Contact the owners/landlords as soon as possible and try to be the first who sees the room.


2. Use all the websites you can

From the most popular ones to ones you haven't heard of before (but be wary of these). You never know what you’re going to get. Universities might give you a hand with that but remember that finding a place depends on you. Some good sites are: Accomodation For Students (UK), Gumtree and Nido but ask around for recommendations.


3. Post ads saying very clearly what you're looking for

No matter how clearly you're going to say it, you will still get calls that have nothing to with what you're looking for, and find yourself repeating your requirements over and over again. Get used to this and try not to get too frustrated.


4. Try to find other people with similar requirements

It's usually cheaper to find a place if there are more of you, plus you can split bills between you. It's also more fun to live with others, especially your friends. It can be quite intimidating to sort out accommodation in a new country on your own, so with others to help it can be less stressful. so you could get a whole flat together. There will usually be housing fairs or other ways for students looking for housemates to find each other. 


5. Be aware of the language barrier

Be aware of certain phrases or jargon which appears in adverts and contracts. Always ask if you’re not sure about something. Any trustworthy landlord or agent will be more than happy to clarify something for someone from another country.


6. When viewing a place, look out for everything

Obviously, have your eyes wide open when you're checking the place. If there's something you don't like from the start, don't try to convince yourself that you’ll get used to it – you probably won’t! Ask as many questions as you can, including questions about bills, safety, deposits, inventory and even why the previous tenant has left. Take pictures to remind yourself later of parts of the place (ask permission first though). Test taps and showers quickly to check the water pressure. Also try to find out a little about the current tenants you might live with, from the posters on their walls, books and DVDs on their shelves and simply by asking about them.


7. Make a good impression

Remember, when you see a spare room in a place, it’s a bit like an audition for you as the current tenants will decide if they want to live with you. Be on time and be polite - you're in their home afterall! Of course, if you don’t think you’ll get on with these people, look elsewhere. You don't want to find a place you love only to be rejected by the housemates.


Good luck!’

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