Andrej compares King’s residences, intercollegiate halls and private accommodation
Choosing where to live is a big decision and one of the most worrying for prospective students and their parents. I hope this post is helpful and informative as you look at the choices.
Finding a place to stay in London may be daunting. This is not because there are not enough places to stay, just the opposite – there are so many options to choose from. Many students even find it difficult to start researching accommodation options simply because they do not know where to start. The reality is that it is not as difficult as it seems and I have tried to give you some tips below. I compare the three main accommodation options available for first year students: King’s residences, intercollegiate halls and private accommodation. It is necessary to say that the advice in this blog post is far from comprehensive and you should always try to get advice from as many sources as possible.
Firstly, there are a few major things I think you should consider when deciding where to stay. Some are more obvious than others:
Price: Think about your budget. Accommodation is likely going to consume the biggest chunk of it. It’s no secret that housing in London is quite expensive, especially in the city centre where most of King’s campuses are located. Location within London and size of the room are crucial determinants of the price. If you are looking for a single room, as most students are, a decent room in London’s zone 4 will cost you approximately £500 per month, while you will most likely not find a similar room in zone 1 for less than £750 per month. Usually first year students pay £ 650 – 850 per month for accommodation.
Distance from university: Another important thing to consider is how far you live from the campus and its facilities. The closer you live, the less time you spend travelling. Also, you are more flexible as you can, for example, return home in the middle of the day to get your gym bag or different study materials, instead of carrying them with you all day. The trade-off usually tends to be the price, as King’s campuses have a very central location. Living within walking distance is, of course, probably the most desirable. However, if you do not want to spend that much money, perhaps a good tip might be to find a place further away with good transport links to your campus. You can check the travel times through Google Maps or Citymapper app.
Neighbourhood: As in any other major city, some neighbourhoods are better than others in London. Different areas have various types of housing, more green space and parks, better transport and more local and cheaper shops. Also, you should generally think whether you like the atmosphere in the neighborhood or not as it will be your home for at least the duration of your first year at King’s.
Food: I do not know how about you, but I barely knew how to cook scrambled eggs before coming to university. Preparing food can be difficult and time-consuming for some. Luckily for some of us, there are catered halls that solve the problem. On the other hand, if you are a skilled cook and enjoy cooking, want to cook your own meal, or just do not want to be bound by the dinner times, catered halls may not be the best option. Do not underestimate this aspect when deciding where to stay!
Credibility of the accommodation provider: Problems may arise with your accommodation, whether it is a breakage, blocked drains or something else. Most landlords approach such problems fairly and try to resolve it as soon as possible. However, there may be some landlords who are less responsive, if you are having trouble speak to the King’s team.
Secondly, I will try to summarise what I see as some advantages and disadvantages of the three major accommodation options: King’s Residences, Intercollegiate Halls, and private accommodation.
King’s Residences are great because you get to meet other King’s students, not only from your programme of study, but from the whole university (only King’s students are allowed to live there). Another advantage is that many of the King’s halls are located within walking distance or a short bus ride from campus. Moreover, they usually are very safe and welcoming places. Some of the disadvantages are that there are currently no catered King’s halls.
In intercollegiate halls, as opposed to King’s halls, you live with other University of London students. Therefore, an advantage may be that you meet people outside of your university. Another advantage for some is that many of the intercollegiate halls are catered (breakfast and dinner). A disadvantage may be that they were built to be as close as possible to as many University of London colleges as possible. Therefore, not all intercollegiate halls are, for example, within a walking distance from King’s campuses (although some are).
Private accommodation is probably mostly good for a group of friends who want to live together or someone who does not want to be bound by rules in halls. An advantage is that one may probably find a cheaper private accommodation than halls in zones farther out of London as halls tend to be closer to the centre. Also, it is possible to invite guests m ore easily (there tend to be strict guest rules in halls – often for good reason). Some disadvantages are that you need to handle most of the household duties yourself (e.g. paying bills, reporting or solving problems, etc.). Most King’s students tend to enter private accommodation in their second year with friends.
Lastly, these are some useful links to look at if you are looking for:
King’s halls: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/accommodation/index.aspx
Intercollegiate halls: http://halls.london.ac.uk/
Private accommodation: King’s advice, Spare Room, Zoopla; On The Market; Right Move or talk to lettings agents in the area you want to live.
Other useful resources: University of London Housing Services: http://housing.london.ac.uk/ – you caask them any questions about your university accommodation or seek help with finding private accommodation. They maintain a database of accommodation options as well. They can also check your tenancy agreement or help you if any problems with your accommodation arise.
Good luck with your decisions!