Other accommodation options

Choice of living accommodations

Whilst the majority of SOAS students choose to live in halls of residence or private rented accommodation, there are other options that meet particular needs.

Living at home, becoming a property guardian or offering support through a homeshare programme can all reduce accommodation costs drastically, whilst living with a host family offers additional support and is popular with international or study abroad students.

Host Family

Property guardian schemes

There are several companies that run property guardian schemes, looking after empty houses and commercial properties on behalf of owners. The companies recruit individuals (guardians) who are willing to live flexibly in quirky and unconventional accommodation, for rents far below the market average. The arrangement is called a temporary occupation, and guardians may be asked to move to another property with as little as two weeks’ notice.

Whilst this can be a very cheap living option, there are some drawbacks, so consider doing some research before deciding if this option suits you. You may have to move frequently or at short notice. Will this affect your studies?

You will not have the same rights as a tenant, and you will usually be expected to live with other guardians. Properties may not always be in a good condition, may be unfurnished and may not be connected to the internet. The company will carry out frequent inspections and there are often rules banning pets, children, overnight guests and parties.

Choosing to live at home

London accommodation is expensive, and for those who have the option, living at home or with relatives or friends may offer a more affordable lifestyle. Many SOAS students choose to live at home and commute to SOAS.

SOAS Students’ Union offers a great range of activities, events and sports throughout the week, enabling you to get involved in the student community no matter where you choose to live. New students should look out for events during Welcome Week aimed at students who are not living in halls.


Homeshare schemes offer an economical place to live in return for free support and company. They match individuals (homesharers) who are able to give their time with individuals who need some support in order to live independently (householder). This might be an older person with dementia, a disabled adult, people with mental health issues care leavers or parents who have learning disabilities.

The homesharer provides company, security, a person on hand in case of an emergency and may also help with light cleaning, meal preparation, food shopping, gardening or driving, in exchange for very low or no rent.

Homesharing can be a unique and rewarding experience as well as providing affordable accommodation, but it is not for everyone. Consider whether you are able to balance your studies and social life with providing support that is both caring and consistent to someone who will be relying on you in order to maintain their independence.

The UK Network for Homeshare is HomeshareUK they have links to the approved Homeshare agencies near us including:

Some agencies which offer Homeshare matches include


In a homestay, students live with a family. This may mean living with an older couple whose children have left home, a younger couple with children at home, a single parent with children or a single person.

This type of accommodation is particularly good for students who may not have been to England before and who would like the opportunity to experience English family life as well as the chance to practice speaking English. Most families offer breakfast and evening meal but there is also the option of self-catering which will suit more independent students wishing to cook their own meals.

Location - as the centre of London is a busy commercial area most families live outside the centre. This means the average journey to school will be 45 - 60 minutes door-to-door.

To find out more about short term and long term homestays please email the SOAS Accommodation Office: accommodation@soas.ac.uk 

Short term accommodation