OMG! You’re moving to London to study, or perhaps you’ve already completed your first year, and now have to leave the halls of residence and find alternative accommodation.
Whatever your situation, it’s an exciting time – not to mention somewhat nerve racking…
Finding a student flat share in London is something that many people before you have done successfully, and one that you can too! Of course, if you’re lucky enough to already know people on your course or at your college or uni, you can buddy up with them to find a place.
But many of us aren’t that lucky – you might be moving to London from overseas, or from somewhere else in the UK, and don’t yet know any of your fellow students.
So, let’s take a look at the options open to you.
The Big Rental Websites
These websites are good starting points, but in our humble opinion, there are some better places to look that are move focused on offering accommodation for students looking to flat share.
Student Specific Rental Websites
The aptly named Accommodation for Students does exactly as it says on the tin! In addition to listing different flat shares in all areas of London, they also offer guides that will help you with various aspects of renting.
These include the questions you should ask your landlord before you sign on the dotted line, as well as the things that you must factor into your budget.
AirBnB has taken the world by storm over recent months, as its popularity has boomed. It’s a place where private individuals advertise their property to rent – either for short-term or longer – and you contact them directly.
This way, you don’t have to factor any agent fees into the equation and can often get a property for a lower price because of this. Both landlords and those who rent are rated in an “eBay feedback” kind of system, so you can get to see if people are trustworthy.
University Accommodation Offices
Of course, a uni may be able to help you find a flat share, and will have a list of landlords who’re registered with them. At the very least, they’ll be able to advise you of various agents, private landlords, and independent halls of residence that you can contact directly.
Some universities even manage a certain amount of properties on the behalf of the landlords.
The London Student Housing Guide
Hosting it’s own forum, the London Student Housing Guide allows you to search by institution for others looking to either form a group to go flat hunting, or to see offers of accommodation from other students.
Word of Mouth
Never underestimate the power of the spoken word. Tell everyone you know and meet that you’re looking for a place to flat share, or that you’re looking for people to team up with to flat share.
One tip is to check out your college or uni’s Facebook page, and see if anyone else is asking for anyone to flat share.
Or perhaps you could take the bull by the horns and ask yourself. After all, you’re all in the same boat, and someone’s got to start the ball rolling…
And remember, previous year’s students are still likely to be on here, and they might just put you in contact with a landlord they recommend.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Noticeboards and Adverts
You’re highly likely to see adverts on the noticeboards in your college or uni, and whilst we’re not saying that this is a bad place to look, you might want to question why a private landlord would advertise in this manner without going through the student accommodation office.
Be sure to check that any such landlord is registered with your college or uni before you a) go and see a property and b) sign up for any kind of commitment.
Windows of Newsagents
There are still many landlords who advertise in this manner, and many a student has found accommodation this way.
It goes without saying that you should take sensible safety precautions when going to view such a property, such as not going alone, telling others where you’re going, and your expected time back, etc.
Just common sense really, but not something to be forgotten.
Of course, what you might want to do is to be the instigator in getting group of people together to rent a flat. You might be lucky enough to already know one or two people, or you might need to place an advert at uni or college asking people to contact you.
If you decide to take this course, then you’ll need to put some thought into the questions you’re going to ask your potential roomies. These might include such questions as:
- Are you tidy?
- Have you shared a flat/room before?
- Do you have any funny habits?
- Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend, and will they be staying over a lot?
- Do you work as well as study?
- Will you be coming in at odd hours?
- Do you smoke and/or drink?
- What are you hobbies?
- What music do you like?
The list is endless, but you get the gist – and the more up front you can be, the more likely that you’ll end up with some flat mates who not only share the bills, but end up becoming friends and your surrogate family.
Also, be crystal clear about the budget that you’ll all be expected to spend. After all, nothing would be worse than finding a great group of people, finding the perfect flat, and then one person saying they can’t afford their share of the rent!
It can be stressful, finding a student flat share, but this is also going to be one of the best experiences of your life.
So, prepare for the unexpected, stare life in the face, and get out there and live it. You’re only at uni once, so make the most of it…