For anyone deciding between King’s halls and private accommodation, I am here to tell you a bit about what it is like to live in private accommodation as a university student. I live in a rented one-bedroom flat with my boyfriend and I chose to live in a private flat because we wanted to live together, and because I have already lived in halls and therefore felt I could benefit from a different experience. Here are my pros, cons, and best advice for living in private accommodation whilst at university!
At first I was really worried that I’d be the only student not living in halls, but that is definitely not the case. There are many other students living in either private flats or at home, and they all have the same eagerness to meet people at university. That means I haven’t had any problem meeting new friends even though I do not live in the halls. It is true that I have had to make a bit more effort as I am slightly further away, but I have made lots of lovely friends through talking to people in my course, going to events and joining different societies. If there’s a will, there’s a way!
The best thing about living in private accommodation is the flexibility; it’s great to be able to choose for myself where in London I want to live, what kind of place it is, the length of my tenancy, and with whom I’d like to live. I’ve heard some nightmare stories about people that don’t get on well with their flatmates, and how bad a lot of students are at keeping the kitchen clean, and personally I don’t think I’d enjoy living in that kind of atmosphere very much. Hence, I am really pleased with my choice of accommodation!
An additional advantage that might be a bit more personal is that I get to decorate my own home, which I absolutely love! This might not apply for everyone, but for those of you interested in decorating and creating your own personal space, this is a great opportunity when living in private accommodation. Of course, this is still possible to do in halls, but not to the same extent. Also, I’ve heard that candles are forbidden in most halls and since I am a candle lover, I’m lucky to be able to light as many candles as I want on a cosy movie night!
One of the hardest things for me has been to learn how to deal with bills and other practical things that come with living on your own. This was a first for me, and it has taken some time to get used to. Luckily, people in customer service tend to be very helpful, and have guided me through everything from installing a Wi-Fi box to understanding how to read the electricity meters… Even if this sound boring, it is a part of growing up and you will have to learn it at some point, so why not now?
However, I have to say that if you want the typical “uni life” with flat parties, students all over the place and so on, then living in private accommodation might not be your best choice. My neighbours are all much older than me, and sometimes I can miss having lots of students around me. If you have never lived away from home before, then I would recommend staying in halls during your first year, as it is a good transition when moving away from all the home comforts.
Practical Advice: Cost and Taxes
When it comes to cost, it really depends. King’s College London has several student accommodations in which the prices are substantially varied. The same can be said for private accommodation. Location, size, facilities, and other factors will all contribute to the price of the flat. In my case, I think my rent is cheaper compared to what my friends in halls are paying. However, the halls are usually located within walking distance from university, whereas my flat is located slightly further away and thus I tend to take the bus or the tube.
Remember that if you live in private accommodation, you shouldn’t have to pay council tax – you can pick up the papers necessary to sort this out at the King’s campuses. Also, ALWAYS go on viewings for the flats you are interested in, as there are people who sometimes advertise fake listings to trick you out of your money. If you don’t live close enough to do so, ask a friend or a relative to go on your behalf.
For finding private accommodation, I recommend http://www.zoopla.co.uk/ . This site is very easy to use, and you can choose different criteria that match what you are looking for. Tons of new flats are put up every day, and be sure to get in touch with the agency/landlord as soon as you find one that you like, since the market is moving so quickly.
Please get in touch if you have any further questions!