Your application is in, your Host University has been assigned, and now it’s time to start thinking about actually living in Britain! Like most parts of study abroad, your housing in the UK will probably be different than what you’re used to. It may feel a bit daunting if you are faced with a large number of choices, especially if you aren’t sure what to expect when it comes to living in British residence halls. Here are a few general tips and differences you might encounter when living in the UK, although these will depend on your campuses and halls:
Most students live in single rooms
While it might be possible to find a shared room at you Host University, don’t count on it. Most British students live in single rooms, so if you want to save money by sharing a room, you may be limited in your options of where you can live. But because most rooms are single, there are often cheaper choices available without having to share a room.
Accommodation may be flat-style
Some housing at your Host University could be long corridors with many bedrooms, similar to what you may have lived in freshman year at your UC, but you could also live in a flat with just a few other students. If this is the case, you’ll likely share a kitchen and a bathroom (unless you have an en-suite room), and might get to know your flatmates well. Some students find this to be a fantastic way of making friends!
Catered dining is different
Since so many student accommodations have kitchens shared between a few students, you may not even have the option of catered dining. But if you are faced with the decision between catered or self-catered, keep in mind that the dining halls at your Host University will likely be different than what you are used to at your UC. Food may be lower quality and you may not have many choices in what you eat, so you might want to consider a self-catered plan, especially if you have been living on your own in California. However, some dining halls will have special theme nights or formal meals which will introduce you to aspects of British culture you might not see otherwise.
You don’t have to live in student housing or on campus
Although living in halls can be a good way to meet people, living in private housing may appeal to you if you don’t want to live with first-years or want to find something cheaper. Websites like Spare Room, Move Flat, and many others can help you find a room in a house share, and your Host University will have a housing service that can help you find private housing. Never pay any money or sign anything before viewing the place; this may mean staying in a hotel or other accommodation for a few days or even weeks when you first arrive. You should also research the neighbourhood the flat is in and make sure it has local conveniences, like public transportation and grocery stores. You will likely find that rent is cheaper the further you get from campus or the city-centre, but this may mean paying more for travel.
If you want to live in student housing but not on campus, most Host Universities offer at least some off-campus accommodation.
Prepare to commute, especially in London
You may live far from campus and have to take public transportation to get to your classes, especially if you are studying in London. But morning tube and bus rides are a common way of life for most Londoners, so consider commuting as just another way of immersing yourself in the culture.