Shayda: Accommodation in London

Hello offer holders and prospective students!

Spring is almost here, and with the influx of sunshine I’d mark it as a great time to visit London and familiarise yourself with the transport links and vibrant corners of the capital city. Finding accommodation in an unfamiliar city can be daunting for anyone, so it would be a great idea to plan a visit to London ahead of moving here. Signing up with letting agencies can get a little pricey, so I’d recommend being open to alternatives like spareroom.com and gumtree.com (while being mindful of your safety, of course!). Facebook is also another avenue worth exploring, as there are King’s student groups, sometimes specific to a course or just for students in general, where spare rooms are advertised. This might work more in your favour, as someone else has already done the hard work of finding accommodation close to university and mapping the most efficient route of getting there! The best advice I can give is not to put it off too long; the earlier you start looking, the better!

Shayda and a friend crossing Abbey Road.

Shayda and a friend crossing Abbey Road.

Travel around London quickly becomes second nature once you start a routine, so don’t feel too intimidated by the Tube map! Sign up for your student Oyster card as soon as you’re able to, so you’re not stuck paying expensive travel fees, and then go and explore! You’ll soon find that London is actually a lot smaller than you might think. While the Tube map is great for underground navigation, it can also be quite deceiving as a lot of stops are only a short walk apart from each other. If you have a smart phone, download the City Mapper app (it’s free!) and give yourself a day to try and walk to all of your destinations. Our roads are a bit spaghetti-shaped, but soon you’ll be navigating them like a pro.

Good luck!

Shayda

Tam’s Accommodation Advice

I am a part-time master’s student who currently lives in a village north of London. I commute to London via King’s Cross, therefore my experience will only be useful to part-time students! It takes me half an hour to get to King’s Cross, 15 minutes to get to Holborn by tube, and then it’s a 10 minute leisurely walk to the Strand Campus. Therefore my commute is about an hour altogether, which is pretty much how long it takes to get from one place to another within London.

The perks of living outside London: you can use your downtime to explore the local countryside.

The perks of living outside London: you can use your downtime to explore the local countryside.

Part-time study translates to around 5 hours of in-class time per week, so I currently have to be on the Strand for 2 hours on Thursday and 2 hours on Friday. Other than that, I can study from home. King’s has absolutely fantastic online facilities so it is really easy to keep in touch with tutors and students. King’s also makes it easy to view course material online through Keats, the internal network for students and professors. I work in addition to studying, but my work is also flexible and allows me to work from home. The time I do need to go in to the office I try and make it coincide with the days I am in London for university. That said, I only travel to London 3-4 times a week maximum, which rarely exceeds £40 a week. Bearing in mind living outside London means everything else is cheap, £40 is not too bad in the grand scheme of things.

That said, my advice to you (especially if you are a part-time student with reduced work hours) is this: living outside the M25 and commuting to university is very manageable, therefore it is definitely something that should be considered. The campus is so central that it is close to all main stations such as Waterloo, London Bridge and King’s Cross St. Pancras. I enjoy the best of both worlds: the country living, walks and reading in the parks, while also being able to go to London when it’s time to work!

Ingvild’s Accommodation Advice

In deciding how to live while studying at King’s College London, there is a lot of information available and a lot of places to look. Here are three things that I wish I knew / wish I knew to think of while looking for my accommodation last year. Hopefully the following will help you with making a decision:

1) Start researching different neighborhoods early so you can see how the prices develop from now on until summertime. It can be useful to get in touch now rather than later if you are trying to find private accommodation. Further, it helps to see the difference between neighborhoods; some can be close in distance, but very different in price! Doing research beforehand will likely save you some money.

Ingvild's photo2) Instead of only looking at the different places in relation to tube stops / bus stops, also look at their distance to parks. After having lived in London for six months now, I have realized how many great parks there are in this city. The parks are beautifully kept, and are a safe escape from the busy streets of London no matter what time of year. I live very close to Regent’s Park, and use it at least 4 times a week for different activities. I love to do my morning run there, I go for walks to clear my head, and when it’s not too cold I love meeting friends there and have a picnic. So, remember this when looking at places!!

3) I would also recommend looking into King’s residences, private accommodations, and flats to rent privately in the beginning. Seeing all the options that are available to you instead of limiting yourself in the early stages are important in order to find the perfect living situation for yourself while doing your postgraduate degree at King’s. London has so many great areas to live in, which makes it hard to choose! Therefore, take the time you need to find your perfect fit.

I hope these tips help! If not, ask any other questions you may have here as a comment, or ask us on the Facebook page.

Accommodation Advice from Brittany

Before moving to London, one of my biggest concerns was where in the world was I going to live? London is huge with so many different boroughs, and I was not sure if a one hour commute was normal. I was unsure whether I wanted to live in student accommodation, so I spent a lot of time on Zoopla. This was both super encouraging and terrifying. I ended up using Gumtree, which is the British equivalent of Craigslist. As Craiglist has its good and bad seeds, so does Gumtree. If you come with some time to spare before classes, I would suggest Airbnb. (King’s students even have a club, so you can possibly receive a discount!) That way, you can give yourself about a week to check out different places. I have lived in two studio apartments so far, and they both consist of the basic things: bed, fridge, toilet. I would not expect much, but you will spend most of your time out and about so you just need a place to relax and get refreshed.  If you can, rent from the person who actually owns the place. They will be a lot more helpful. My first landlady felt more like an aunt than my landlady. She was super responsive and was very lenient when I had to pay in huge wads of cash before I had a bank account.

Brittany's photoRight now, I live in Leytonstone. It was the home of Alfred Hitchcock. We have some cool murals of his movies and a hotel named after him where my parents will stay when they visit in April.

My favorite place though would have to be the Wild Goose bakery. If you get the chance, you need to have their pancakes. They have a secret ingredient, and I love it.

Matt’s Accommodation Advice

I’ve lived in London for four years, initially as a worker and then as part-time worker/student. I have also lived in many different areas – a very expensive way of seeing the city – so I have good knowledge of the private rented accommodation.

To be honest, living in private rented accommodation in London is expensive. Affordable housing is in short supply and high rent has priced many people out of central locations.

The good news: London is one of the most diverse cities in Europe and is built on an exciting array of cultures. This is reflected in the multiplicity of unique areas linked to the centre through an excellent (albeit busy) underground tube line. Moreover, if you give yourself enough time there are some brilliant bargains that will make you the envy of your less organised friends.

To get you started, here are my recommendations for locations that balance atmosphere, transport connections and rent that won’t break the bank!

The North
Beyond the expensive Angel area is Finsbury Park – my current home. Connected to the centre by the Victoria and Piccadilly lines, it offers quick links to university. An oasis at the end of Seven Sisters road, the area is renowned for its cafes, restaurants and pubs. It is the number one spot for Turkish food in London and is a stone’s throw away from trendy Stoke Newington in Hackney.

Matt's photo Finsbury ParkThe South 
Camberwell feels like a village within the city. A strong community feel stems from the numerous independent cafes and restaurants that line the High Street, or main road. There is no underground station driving up rent, but top bus links will get you to university in 20 minutes. It’s a short walk way from the bustling nightlife of Peckham, too.

The East
Mile End. Perhaps not the most picturesque part of London but very close to fashionable Hackney without the inflated rent. Shoreditch, Haggerston and Dalston are all easily accessible by bus and Victoria Park is only a short walk away. The Central line will get you into the city centre in 15 minutes.

The West
The west of London is notoriously expensive but there are some areas that can be affordable if you spend some time looking. Putney is known for its affluence but also has some good student-esque accommodation if you shop around. Right on the Thames, the area offers a pleasant atmosphere and is close to London’s museum quarter in Kensington.

There are so many interesting areas in London. I’d advise doing as much research as you can to find out where’s right for you. The important thing to note is that university is about experience and that is exactly what this vibrant capital offers!