As a student, finding a new home in London can be a task which brings great fun but great concern. My search was made simpler and easier because my university had an allotment of student residential accommodation. However, student residential accommodation in universities has become a short-supply/high-demand proposition for many students. Others, who like me are post-graduate researchers, may also have whom an in-law space or a residence hall does not fit in with their personal needs. My work directly relates to student housing and I have read extensively in the literature on what students’ suggest are important factors when evaluating their residential life experience. So, to evaluate your own needs/wants/desires in a home in London while on a course, here are just a few sensible tips.
1. Resource how you will search. There are tons of university housing and private housing search portals. These are really useful places to begin to think critically about how to engage the large and significant sorting needed to locate what you’d like.
(As a quick note, I am not affiliated with either of the above companies or their links and therefore offer them as examples of housing search portals, as starter places, without material endorsement or responsibility for their contents or use.)
2. Second, what makes ‘Home’ for you? Is it time with new people, friends, family? Do you want a ‘sanctuary’ or a ‘hub’, more of a quiet space or social activity abounding? Is it really important to you, sunlight or seeing the water? Do you measure convenience in closeness to your institution, ease of access to sights and sounds and cityscape or are you more interested in a glancing pass and a more quiet home base?
I find asking students what is important to them in these general positive ways leads to greater clarity about ‘why’ home is important, leading to better ‘what’ choices later.
3. Assess your budget! While many people enjoy living in the centrality of London, many do not. Indeed, it is just about 20-25 minutes on the Northern Line from Euston Station to Hampstead. Here, the city has some quiet country on its outskirts.
I highly recommend exploring on foot for 2-3 days, as I did, to see the sights and sounds of where you think you’d like to live. London is amazing for how it uses space at the macro and micro level. This means you may enter a square along an untouched Victorian row and exit alongside a newly modelled modern housing split. This is quintessential London, and part of what I LOVE about being here. But get grounded in the diversity.
4. Be persistent! A lot of finding and securing residential accommodation is persisting through the process of asking, often repeatedly, and being unable to locate a space immediately. One key is to start earlier than you think you should and keep trying until you’ve worked it out. A lot of opportunities will be available, always. Housing is constantly shifting and that’s totally OK. What is useful is to have a clear set of expectations and to focus searching in the area(s) and types of buildings you feel would support you, academically and personally.
5. Finally, trust yourself! Finding home, no matter where you go, often requires accepting the world in the fullness of all that it is. That starts within you, the individual, setting out on this journey. That sense of acceptance accepts resistance as an indication a place or a space is not for you. I would like you to feel safe, supported and included in your home community, either living on your own or as is more often the case in London, with others. We all have ebb and flow and to accept and trust that there is a place for you, that you will make the best of it, and that you can change anything at any time to make it easier and easier and better and better is critical to creating a new home.
You will always have a home within yourself. This means, the physical space and its place in a students’ life and experience is really a reflection of our own imagination and thought. So, feel good. Feel good than decide where you’d like to be and live and Thrive.
With best wishes,