Moving to London from abroad can be a stressful experience, especially if you don’t know anybody in the UK to ask for advice or to help you with the transition. The capital has an influx of international students each year, who come to London for its world class educational establishments and language schools. Unfortunately, each and every year overseas students make the same mistakes when it comes to arranging their new home.
We’ve seen it time and time again, as we work with international students every day to help them find somewhere to live in London. The city is one of the most expensive in the world yet students still have unrealistic expectations when it comes to where they will be able to afford to live, and if they are prepared to share accommodation.
Here are HFS London’s top five accommodation mistakes made by international students.
1. Leaving it too late to book
You’re not alone – millions of other people are also looking for a room in London so you’re up against stiff competition. Many students wait until they are in the country to search for accommodation but this is usually too late to find a high quality room. In many cases you can book student accommodation in advance from your home country through an agency, so it will be secure to send your money and reserve your place. When you land on British soil you’ll have a home to go to straight away, which takes the stress out of moving to a different country.
2. Underestimating the cost of living
You know it will be expensive to study in London, but do you know just how much? Accommodation is at a premium, but additionally the cost of food, travel and basic living can just about break the bank. Many students don’t budget for the year ahead and have a nasty shock when they arrive. By booking your accommodation in advance and knowing how much your monthly outgoings will be, you know how much money you’ll need to save. With HFS London you can even choose to have meals included so you don’t have to factor in expenses for buying food.
3. Not considering cheaper zones with good transport links
Many international visitors think they want to be right in the centre of the action in zone one – put this is near impossible. Many people prefer to live in quieter and cheaper suburbs because the transport links are often fantastic and there is more of a community feel. Zones 2, 3 and 4 have plenty of affordable options for commuters and students travelling across the city regularly.
4. Not taking precautions against scams
Like most busy cities, London is home to some con artists and you should never be too trusting of strangers. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. There have been many reports of rogue landlords and people renting out rooms which don’t exist, so it’s important to be aware of scams when searching for accommodation. Booking through an agency, rather than a private landlord who you’ve never met, is the safest way to secure a room in London.
5. Paying too much for interim accommodation
Heading to the city is a big move, and you may want to find your feet in London before choosing the area you would like to live. Many overseas students choose to book short term accommodation, such as a hotel, on their arrival while they look for a permanent place to live. The problem is this can be very expensive and you often don’t know how long you’ll be staying in the interim accommodation. Living with a host in homestay accommodation is an affordable option and usually you can extend the term at short notice if you are still looking for long term accommodation in London.
If you’re an overseas student planning on moving to London, talk to our friendly team who can guide you through the process.