Finding Accommodation Abroad (Part 2)

We know many of you are worried about finding accommodation for a single semester abroad, so we asked Peer Advisors Raza and Emily (who both went through it!) about their experience and what advice they’d share. Here’s what Emily had to say…

When I first learnt that I secured my spot at the University of Sydney for my semester abroad I was elated! But soon I felt a bit overwhelmed by all the admin that needed to be arranged before I left, especially finding accommodation. However, the process was much easier than I anticipated and the host university was really helpful in supporting me through the process. I was asked to select my top three preferences for accommodation and soon after, they let me know that I secured my place at my first choice at the wonderful Queen Mary Building, one of the biggest student residences in the city.

View from QMB

Going into the research process, I already knew that I wanted to stay on campus in halls as I liked the social aspect of it and the 24/7 security appealed to me too! However, in Australia, it seemed more common for students to rent privately. Some of my close friends stayed in private housing and still had a fantastic time. I often visited their flat and was sometimes jealous of the homely feel that their apartment had over the halls where I was staying! When they were hunting for somewhere to live, I think they made sure to source their property from a trusted agency and asked for a viewing of the property online before paying any deposit. It can be easy for scammers to take advantage, especially when you’re trying to arrange your accommodation from overseas, but I think using a reputable agency is a surefire way to avoid this. If you’re ever in doubt, the host university is always there to help you in these situations also!

The University of Sydney sent me heaps of resources which showed me how far away the different accommodation options were from campus, rent prices, contract lengths and what utilities were available in each accommodation. It was a lot to digest but it was extremely helpful to have all my options listed in one document. It also saved me a lot of time in the months leading up to my leaving.

Despite having the resources sent to me from the uni, some minor details were missing which I needed to find myself and I was also interested in seeing more of the rooms themselves. The information I received didn’t give me a great feel for what the rooms looked like. So, I resorted to hunting online for more information; I wanted to get a better feel for the spaces available before pursuing anything. It was surprisingly difficult to find images of the accommodation I was considering, but in the end, I found a YouTube video of someone reviewing the residences. They had some footage of the room and shared communal spaces which I might not have seen otherwise. The video helped assure me that I wanted to stay at that residence. I was able to picture myself in the place and grew increasingly excited about staying there during my semester abroad.

Luckily, when I was researching the different accommodation options, most of the ones provided through the University of Sydney were all in the same area near the main campus. It was lovely to stay near the campus for various reasons. The most obvious being that it was quick and easy to get to class each day but the other reason is that the surrounding area was very student-friendly. Lots of the local shops would offer student discounts and there were lots of student nights at the pubs nearby. This made my time abroad all the more enjoyable. Living closer to campus also made me feel more connected to the university, a real community feeling. Whilst in London, I lived at home and would have a long commute each day so it was nice to experience walking to class from my halls for once!

Having lived at home all my life before going on my semester abroad, I had no idea what to expect in terms of the costs of accommodation as I have (luckily) never had to live away from home and pay rent. It was all new to me but I knew it would be the most expensive part of my time abroad. I think, in total, I paid approximately £3000 for my 20-week contract, including the deposit. The University of Sydney also had an offer at the time where if I chose a certain accommodation as my first preference, I was guaranteed to get it and would also receive a slight discount on my rent so look out for deals like that too! I wanted to stay at that residence anyway but this helped to confirm that. was happy to pay less and stay in a more basic accommodation but if you have your heart set on something a bit fancier and have the funds to do so, go for it! If I wanted to make housing even more affordable, I might have looked into getting a shared room which would’ve had cheaper rent. But I didn’t know that was an option at the time, so keep an eye out when doing your research!

Emily’s room

In addition, besides cost, consider what else you want to get out of your accommodation. Me, I knew that I wanted to live in halls for the social aspect so I only looked into on-campus residences. There were loads of international students staying in my accommodation too so it was nice to be in the same boat as others who were also living away from friends and family. I ended up meeting another person from King’s who lives in the same London borough as me and now we’re close friends. Another thing to consider: if you know you don’t want to share a bathroom or kitchen with other people then definitely look into the private route. Lastly, consider the wider neighbourhood. Is there a bus stop or tube station nearby? How far is the nearest supermarket for your grocery trips? These practical things are easy to forget but worth keeping in mind to make life easier.

As for my other semester at King’s… I was fortunate enough to live at home during so this wasn’t a huge issue for me but I do know friends who struggled. A few people managed to stay with friends for Semester 1 and then went back home for Christmas and were going abroad in the new year so they didn’t have to stay with friends for too long. I do know that some London accommodations offer shorter contracts now which would help in situations like this.

Don’t forget you can come talk to me during my office hours, Thursdays 11-1, in room K0.57. Equally, if you are unable to visit at that time, you can always pop in for a chat with the other Peer Advisors, see here for more information.

You will have a great time no matter where you choose to live during your time abroad! Hopefully, you won’t be spending too much time in your room anyway as you’ll be out exploring your new home, but if you do your research you’ll find the right place for you!