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Information for Students

How to choose your accommodation

Rubina Arbi RussellSq

Photo: Rubina Arbi

Here is our guide to find housing in London with hints and tips about how long it takes, where to look and how to decide what is right for you.

A good first stop is the University of London Housing Service ULHS. SOAS, like other colleges of the University of London, subscribes to ULHS, which provides expertise in all areas of looking for accommodation, including housing talks, legal advice for students experiencing difficulties with their housing and a contract checking service for students about to enter into a letting agreement.

Other ULHS services include:
What advice would you give someone looking for accommodation in London?

Here’s how SOAS students answered, in a survey carried out recently:

“It can take a time to find a good house which is a good price in a good location and then it can be snapped up quickly”

“You have to be clear about your rights and make your demands clear.....ask for what you deserve, don’t make do with less”

How long will it take to find somewhere?

From our survey most students questioned took one-to-six days but there were a number of students who took more than a month. Most properties are available to view four-to-eight weeks before the move in date. Looking more than two months in advance can prove difficult.

What things should I consider when looking for accommodation?

Check out the NUS Househunting Checklist.

You need to consider what is important for you in terms of:

  • Distance from SOAS
  • Travel links
  • Being able to see the place before you commit money
  • Cost
  • Sharing or living alone
  • Size of room
  • Quality of the accommodation
  • Quality of the area
  • Can you make your own food?

For most students, the perfect combination of cheap, good quality and near SOAS is going to be rare, so you will probably need to decide which one or two matter most to you!

What do I need to have with me when looking for accommodation?

Before you leave for London:

  • Sufficient funds to pay your deposit (usually one month’s rent) and the first month’s rent
  • References from previous landlords (in English ideally!) - not essential, but a good idea
  • Bank statements (again not essential, but a good idea)

Once you are in London:

  • Tube map (available at all underground stations, and online on the TFL website)
  • A-Z map of London available from most newsagents (or an app on your phone)
  • Oystercard (see http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/14836.aspx)
  • UK mobile (cell) phone or a phone card
  • Internet access (or bring your laptop – many cafes offer free wi-fi)