Created
09/02/22
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Written by
Muzammil Farhan
Reading time
5 min read

How-to choose student accomodation in London

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In this guide, we’ll go through the things you should know when moving into student accommodation in London (from an Imperial first year medical student). This guide will have some focus on medical school however can be applicable to moving into halls for any course. Hope this helps!

Picking your student accommodation - the things to consider

Location

One of the first things you should think about when considering your university accommodation is the location. This can be quite important as some halls are on campus where it can be quite convenient to access lectures as you would be just a few minutes walk from them and can save you money on travel. However, these halls tend to be more expensive as you pay for convenience so it is worth considering whether you value living closer to campus or saving money. With the UK emerging out of the pandemic, lectures are increasingly becoming in person therefore having to go in has become more common. There are also some halls that are further out from the university campus so may take some time travelling to access lectures and are usually cheaper. They usually also have a large community of university students living there so can still be quite fun despite being far away from campus. I would say if you are living further out from campus, be sure to check the size of the halls.

In the case of Imperial, there is a community of around a 1,000 students living in North Acton split across two different halls close to each other. This allows for a social scene even better than the halls on campus however the downside is that it takes 40 minutes to travel to campus.

Cost

Cost is often a big factor to take into consideration when moving into university. With many things to choose from such as an en-suite, catered/self-catered, it can be quite confusing what to pick. Generally, accommodations that have an en-suite or catered are more expensive than non-catered or shared bathrooms. If you plan on cooking and making your own food then going for self-catered (meaning you cook your food yourself) can be a good option, as well as cheaper and you get to make the food that you want to eat. However, cooking can often be time consuming especially when having to buy and cook ingredients yourself as well as the pots, pans, etc. required to do it. In that case, catered (where cooked food is provided to you) can be a good option as you save time however it can be more expensive and the food isn’t always to your liking. Location is also a big factor when it comes to determining cost and generally closer accommodations are more expensive so it is important to weigh up whether living further out would incur more travel costs and whether that is worth it rather than living closer. In London, you would most likely require a student oyster card and you would buy a weekly, monthly or yearly travel card and travel could cost anywhere from £50 - £200 per month.

Social Life

Social life can be quite an important factor to take into consideration especially as it is your first year of university. Many students are coming from other cities and so making friends can be a top priority for people. Student accommodation can be a great place to make friends. Personally, some of my closest friends have been my flatmates. That said, it can be a hit or miss when it comes to your flatmates and how you get on with them. Despite this, living in a building full of students makes it much easier to make friends. Some accommodations can have a large number of students living together and so many parties and social gatherings happen regularly which can make the social life very good. On the other hand, some accommodations can be quite small and close knit therefore there is less of a social life there.

Money Saving Tips

Living in London can be expensive, so I have included a section on some tips that I have found to help save you money. Firstly, Lidl and Aldi are your best friend! I have found them to be far cheaper than other supermarkets so if you can find some nearby it can be quite helpful to shop there. If there is no Lidl/Aldi nearby, it is best to shop at a large supermarket rather than small ones e.g. Tesco Express. These do not stock cheaper groceries so can be expensive except for things such as milk or bread. Furthermore, try to cook at home whenever possible and buy meat (there are usually halal butchers nearby if you search online, people at your local mosque can also guide you on this) in bulk and freeze it so that you do not have to order food in case there is nothing at home which can be more expensive.

Inclusivity

Inclusivity is an important thing to consider in university especially as a muslim student. With many university events (especially freshers) including lots of drinking, it can be difficult to take part in these events if you do not drink. Personally, many social events in university involved drinking. My advice is to look for events at your university Pakistan society or Islamic society where there is no drinking and it can be a great place to meet people with similar values. Some universities also try to host alternate events where there is no alcohol so those can also be good to check out!

In conclusion, living in halls can be a great way to spend your first year at university. It is a great opportunity to make friends, and can be your first step to independent living as you begin to live by yourself.

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There are a few things to consider when choosing halls and so I hope this guide helped to clarify some things. Feel free to message me on instagram (@muzammil.med) or email muzammilfarhan@outlook.com if you have any questions/enquiries.

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