One of the most common concerns first year University students have is about finding an accommodation for subsequent years. In Imperial, most halls are reserved for first year students, to ease their transition into University life. I was fortunate to be staying in student dorms located 5 minutes away from my department during my first year, but I knew that I would eventually have to get out of my comfort zone to find a new flat before the end of the year too. In this blog, I will be summarizing my experiences searching for a new accommodation in London and some tips to get your ideal flat!
Searching For Flatmates
Before worrying about finding a flat, it would be wise to think about who would you like as your flatmates first. Students often search for flatmates either from societies, their respective courses or even their current dormmates. Students might sometimes find themselves unhappy with their flatmates after moving in together and more often than not, this is due to lack of understanding and lack of communication with one another. Before agreeing to be flatmates, make sure that you and your potential flatmates understand each other’s living style and most importantly, be able to communicate with one another when any disagreements arise. Also, don’t be afraid of asking people to be your flatmates or politely say no if you think that the both of you might not be the best match when it comes to being flatmates! Normally, students will need to begin searching for accommodation around February and onwards, so as long as you have a group of potential flatmates by then, you can begin searching for a flat!
Searching For The Ideal Flat
To find the ideal flat, you should discuss with your flatmates beforehand and make sure you guys agree on similar criteria when searching for a flat. Some things to consider can be whether you prefer staying near campus but pay a higher price or stay further away from campus and pay cheaper rent, whether you would like to have a reception room or not and whether everyone prefers their own single room or have shared bedrooms. From there on, you can proceed to search for available flats.
Some useful ways to find accommodations can be using certain housing websites such as Zoopla and Rightmove or contact real estate agencies such as Dexters and RR Properties. In websites such as Zoopla, you will be able to fill up a set range of criteria in order to find your ideal flat. After that, feel free to take a look at the catalogues available and contact the respective agencies to arrange for a house viewing! Real estate companies will ask you similar questions and recommend flats that might suit your need and budget. One thing to take note about is to always ask for previous experiences from seniors when dealing with different real estate agencies to ensure that you get the most pleasant experience possible!
You will expect yourselves to go for tons of house viewings in order to search for an ideal place! My flatmates and I went for over 20 house viewings before deciding on a flat to stay in. Besides making sure that the interior of your flat is well maintained, remember to also keep some other criteria in mind such as whether utility bills are included, the distances between your flat and tube stations or how far is it to travel to the nearest supermarket. Most importantly, never be pressured into making a decision! Staying in a flat is one of the biggest commitments and decisions you will have to make, so take your time to think through on whether all of your flatmates are happy with the place before deciding to sign any contracts.
Students normally begin searching for their accommodation from February onwards. If you are an international student like me and would like to return to your home country during the summer, you can try and search for flats which will be available starting September, so you will not have to pay for rental through your summer.
In summary, don’t rush any decisions when it comes to finding a flat to stay in. With the right people and the right environment, any flat you choose will end up being the ideal flat for all of you!