A Helpful Guide to Understanding Student Accommodations in London

The two major student accommodations in the UK are student halls of residence and private rented accommodation. Student halls of residence include university (on-campus) accommodation and student (off-campus) accommodation. These accommodations are best for first-year undergrad students or for students travelling to the UK for the first time.

Whereas a university accommodation is managed by the university, a student accommodation may be run by a private organisation. Private rented accommodations are just like normal accommodations. They are cheaper than student halls of residence but can be unsafe for students.

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What are Student Halls of Residence in London?

These halls are buildings with multiple flats where each flat houses multiple students. The students have individual rooms but share communal areas like the kitchen and the bathroom. These halls of residence are usually located on the university campus, or they may be off-campus.

Off-campus halls of residences may or may not be managed by the university. They are usually run by a private organisation wholly or in partnership with a university. Claredale House in London is an example of such an accommodation.

The price for a single room at a student hall of residence (including bills) in London is an approximate £640 (INR 62,000)/month for a non en-suite room and £1200 (INR 1,20,000)/month for a private en-suite room in a studio.

An en-suite room is one which has an attached toilet and bath.

The price varies according to factors like the type of room you choose (en-suite or non en-suite), the number of people you live with, the size of the room, the location of the hall, whether it is a catered accommodation or an un-catered accommodation, whether you rent a studio or a furnished student accommodation.

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What is the difference between an on-campus hall of residence and an off-campus student hall of residence?

An on-campus student hall of residence is a student accommodation run and manage by the university. Since they are on-campus accommodations, they are perceived to be the safest option for students.

An off-campus student hall of residence is a student accommodation that is specifically reserved for students but is run by either non-profit or for-profit organisations. It may/ may not even be managed by the university.

The price for a private non en-suite room at an off-campus student hall of residence in London (including bills) is between £520 (INR 50,000)/month and £3100 (INR 3,00,000) and the price for a private en-suite room is between £800 (INR 80,000)/month and £1500 (INR 1,50,000)/month including bills.

The price varies according to factors like the size of the room, the number of people you live with in the flat, the location of the residence hall, whether you rent a studio or a furnished student accommodation.

I lived in an off-campus private student residence hall called Claredale House in London while I was pursuing my Master’s in 2018. I used to pay £640 (INR 62,000) per month including bills. I shared the apartment with five other people. Between us, we had one common kitchen and two bathrooms.

To know more about my experience and review of living at that accommodation, watch the video below.

What amenities are available at these halls of residences?

Basic amenities like wi-fi, water, gas, secured entry with keycode are mostly provided by almost all student halls. The cost of all these amenities are usually included in the weekly/monthly prices displayed on the websites of the residence halls.

Usually, laundry costs are not covered in the weekly/monthly prices of any type of residence hall. It is usually available inside the halls and they charge about £2.50 per wash for washing and an additional £1 for the tumble dryers.

You might also get bike storage with most student residence halls. You need not pay any additional charges for that storage space.

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Some of these halls are catered. It means you need worry about cooking some or all of the meals. Student halls at universities usually have an option for catering. Remember, however, that catered residence halls are usually costlier than non-catered ones.

Are shared rooms available at student halls of residences?

Yes. You can share your room with one, two or even three more students. The more number of people you share your room with, the lower the price you will pay. For instance, Holland House in London offers various types of shared and private accommodations for as low as £420 (INR 40,000) per month.

Are shared student halls of residences safe?

Yes. Since they are specifically built for students, the organisation that runs them have their own security checks in place. For instance security codes at entry to the halls, and individual locks for rooms.

You get a lock for your room giving you the option to lock it up whenever you need to go outside.

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What about thefts in student accommodations in London?

It is reported that in the last few years, one in every four students was burgled especially the ones living in university towns.

However, while I was living at Claredale House, London I never heard of any such incidents, although I was living in a relatively notorious neighbourhood.

I am not saying that thefts don’t happen. Sometimes they do and the culprit could be a fellow student or someone from the outside. But, there are hundreds of ways that you can follow to protect your personal items.

For instance, you can get insurance for the more expensive electronics that you have, and/or register them on the UK’s National Property Register, Immobilise. For more details about how you can protect your personal items, visit this link (note: this is a link to an external website).

Are there any other benefits of living at student halls of residence?

Yes, the biggest benefit is that you are able to make an extensive group of friends. You get to meet with people from all over the world and make some long-lasting friendships.

Also, if you live on the university campus, then you have the added benefit of being able to interact with your university professors whenever you need to. You also get to meet with people from different courses and build a network.

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Living at an off-campus student accommodation will give you the opportunity to meet with different students from different universities.

Here are some benefits and negatives of living in an on-campus student hall of residence.

No travel – save money Expensive accommodation
Purely student atmosphereYou only get to interact with students
Safe place: once you are in the campus nothing to worry about You slip into the comfortable zone of the university
Stay out in the campus for as long as you desireContract-based, you cannot leave before the contract ends
Better social conditions: all students, easy interactions Have to respect the rules of the accommodation
No problem, whether mental, physical, room-related or anything else will ever go unheard
Pros and Cons of Living in a University Accommodation

Here is a list of benefits and negatives of living in an off campus student hall of residence.

Relatively cheaper than uni accommodation Travel expense if it is farther from the uni
Purely student atmosphereYou only get to interact with students
Safe place: once you are in the accommodation nothing to worry about You slip into the comfortable zone of the university
Better social conditions: all students, easy interactions, you get to meet with students from other universitiesLate night rules apply as the student accommodation might be next residential accommodations
No problem, whether mental, physical, room-related or anything else will ever go unheard Contract-based, you cannot leave before the contract ends
Have to respect the rules of the accommodation
Pros and Cons of Living in a Student Accommodation

What is Private Rented Accommodation in London?

This is just like any other accommodation that is available to everyone. A private accommodation in London is unlike any type of student accommodation in that it does not offer any of the services or amenities available in the latter.

These types of accommodations can be found on websites like SpareRoom, Zoopla etc. The cost of a private accommodation in London varies between INR 45,000 to INR 3,50,000 per month.

You can either rent an entire house for yourself in these types of accommodations, which will cost you north of INR 1,50,000/month depending on the zone the accommodation falls in. Or you can rent just a room and that would cost you about INR 35,000/month.

Private accommodations are not always safe and I would not advise an undergraduate student to take up a private accommodation especially for their first 2 years.

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Here is a list of positives and negatives of living at a private accommodation in London.

Benefits of Living at a Private Rented Accommodation in London Problems of Living at a Private Rented Accommodation in London
Some are much cheaper than student accommodation Travel expense if it is farther from the uni
You might get rolling monthly contracts; you can leave whenever you wish to No student atmosphere, you hardly interact with the people you are living with
You can change the insides of the room as per your desire, provided you have permission Unsafe until you are inside your room
You might get more space for your money within the room Late night parties might not even be a possibility if the house is small
You are your own boss, only the basic rules apply For any problem you need to run to the lead housemate/broker/owner; some problems might not even be solved
Pros and Cons of Living in a Private Accommodation

Which type of student accommodation in London should I choose?

That depends on who you are, what your budget is, and where your university is located.

I recommend any Indian who is travelling to London for the first time in their life to live in either the university accommodation or a student accommodation. These accommodations are safe and built specifically for students. Moreover, you even have the chance to make friends and expand your network by living in either of these accommodations.

However, depending on whether you are an undergraduate, postgraduate or a PhD student, your choice of accommodation should vary.

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I am an undergrad student. Which type of accommodation should I choose?

As a first year undergraduate student, you might be guaranteed an accommodation at the university in one of their halls of residence. I highly recommend all first-year undergraduate students to stay on-campus during their first year.

After that, you can choose to either continue living in the university, or move to some other place.

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Some second year undergrad students leave their university accommodation and move to a cheaper private one. However, most students tend to stick around as by the end of the first year they have made some friends that they can’t live away from.

Whether you decide to move to a private accommodation after completing your first year living at a university accommodation is entirely up to you. If you can afford to live in the university accommodation throughout the length of your course, it would be great. That said, moving to a private rented accommodation from your second year will also give you new experiences!

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This is because you will get to spend more time at the university, meet and connect with new friends every year, and build great relationships with your professors. This level of detailed networking and an active social life will help you form connections that might help you start a business in the future or help you land your dream job.

What if I do decide to move out of my student accommodation in the second year?

If you decide to move to a private accommodation from a university/student accommodation in your second year, it will prove to be a good decision from a financial standpoint.

Moreover, you will not be deprived of anything if you were to make that move. In fact, while living in a private accommodation you will most likely meet different types of people and have a chance to build new relationships.

How will moving out of a private rented accommodation in my second year help me financially?

If you move to a private accommodation in the second year of your university, you save £10,000 or INR 9,64,000 in total.

Here is how I worked out that figure.

Case A: You Decide to Stay at the University/Student Accommodation for Three Years

Let’s say that you live at a student accommodation where you pay £900/month. Let’s say you live at that accommodation for the entire duration of your course.

Then, for three years, your student/university accommodation costs: £32,400, or INR31,22,595.

Case B: You Move to a Private Accommodation in Your Second Year

Let’s say you move to a new private accommodation where you have to pay £400/month.

So, for the remaining two years, your accommodation costs: 24 months * £400/month = £9,600.

Therefore, the total amount you spend on accommodation for three years is £21,000 or INR 20,23,000.

I’m a postgrad student in London. Which type of student accommodation should I choose?

You can choose between an on-campus and off-campus student hall of residence. Your choice should depend on factors like your budget, distance from the university, size of the room etc. You can add or deduct factors depending on what you are looking for.

If you have a very tight budget then you can even think of getting a private rented accommodation. However, again, if you are going abroad for the first time, I recommend getting a student hall of residence for the first few months. Once you are familiar with the area, then you can choose to move to a different (private) accommodation.

Okay, but why student halls of residences? Are private rented accommodations in London not safe?

No, that’s not what I mean. I only recommend student halls of residence because there are very low chances of you getting cheated. If you go for a private rented accommodation, then it could be that you end up paying a deposit money from India and when you actually arrive at the accommodation, it turns out to be completely different.

Moreover, if you don’t know the area that you are going to live in, then you don’t know if its safe for students or not. Not all areas in London are safe, especially during night. So, you might want to choose wisely.

Okay, then in that case should I live in a student hall of residence for a few months and then get a private rented accommodation?

That sounds like a decent idea! You can always decide to move out when you find a new accommodation that suits your needs and budget. In that case, be sure to check with your student hall of residence about the contracts.

You might get a contract for a few months, say about four months after which you can move out. If you take a contract for eight months, then you will have to live at the accommodation for that period of time.

How do contracts work in a student hall of residence?

It depends from accommodation to accommodation. Some student halls offer longer contracts like nine months, and some offer smaller contracts like three months.

The payments for these accommodations also depend on the contracts. You can choose to pay for the first three months of your stay and then pay the remaining amount in fragments over the next months. It is best to check with your student accommodation about what they are offering.

What are the different types of rooms available in student halls of residences in London?

Single ensuite rooms

These are rooms where you have your own room and a bathroom attached. These tend to be very costly (as high as INR 30,000/week). The good thing about these rooms is that you have your privacy as you are not sharing the room with anyone. However, if you are not someone who can afford such a costly room, you can even choose cheaper rooms without an attached bathroom.

Now, since I never lived at the university, I cannot tell you what it feels like living there. However, if you are a prospective UG, you do not have a choice anyway.

Shared rooms

Shared rooms will be cheaper, but the only bad thing with them would be that you will have no privacy. You can check out the shared rooms at your university on the portal itself.