Important factors to consider when flat-hunting in London
Before coming to Imperial, I was concerned about how there is no campus accommodation after your first year. However, this offers flexibility for you to decide how you want to live. There are many options, living alone, with friends, in halls…so what are some factors you must consider?
Staying in halls close to campus
If you haven’t gathered the courage to find friends to live with, don’t worry. Evelyn Gardens is an accommodation for returning undergraduates that has similar layouts to first-year halls, letting you make friends with people on your floor whilst having your personal space in one-person bedrooms. These do go quickly so make sure you sign up early, you can always cancel later. The contract lasts for a year so you have a convenient place to stay for UROP or summer placements. If you have a medical condition you can consider applying to stay in first-year accommodation through the Disability Advisory Service.
Leave fretting over accommodation for after exams
If you are thinking about flat-sharing with friends there’s no need to worry about that – most private properties don’t have free properties for October until over the summer. The Student Hub offers an annual student housing fair for you to find flatmates and get to know landlords not affiliated with letting agents – the properties they offer are often more affordable and it’s always useful to build a good relationship with landlords since you might need to ask them for repairs or any help in the future. To find properties approved by Imperial you can browse Imperial Home Solutions. These are more reliable than third party sites like SpareRoom or RightMove that are susceptible towards scams but useful to check out regardless to research on existing flatshares.
General rules of thumb I stick by
- Always view properties before signing a contract.
- Age range of flatmates. Even if you don’t know your housemates well the most important thing is to know they have the same kind of interests and mindset as you, and being in the similar age range makes it so much easier. Best friends do not always make the best housemates. Who you want is a housemate that is understanding and respectful of your habits.
- Signs of pest infestations. The building exterior is just as important as its insides. Is the pavement clean? Are there holes in the walls? The last thing you want during exam season in the summer is to hear continuous timid squeaks from the roof or scurrying along the floor.
- Bills included? Check the average rent of the area. Sometimes the bills included option can be a trick which makes a property more expensive than others with bills you have to pay for yourself but has cheaper electricity and heating or includes amenities that you may not use such as TV licence (which can easily be substituted for by Netflix/Amazon Prime Student).
- Location, location, location. Because of its huge population, London is a wonderful place to get accustomed to different cultures but you need to make sure you’re safe at night after a terrific night out. These are trivial but easy to forget like how bright your street is at night, access to public transport.
(PS. Weekday cinema showings and gigs are much cheaper than those on weekends. If you love music, take advantage of how much artists tour the UK capital compared to other cities.)
Don’t feel bad or singled out if you can’t manage to find housemates – an excellent way to do that is to join clubs. There is no stigma around joining clubs after freshers. Imperial’s 300+ societies are always eager to recruit. University is a place of personal development so don’t shy away from new interests.