Being accepted onto a university course in the UK is an exciting time and, as a new student, you have much to consider. You will have already thought about what and where you wish to study but you’ll also need to take time to consider the legal side of studying in the UK (such as your visa), how you will finance this, whether you will want to (or be able to) get a part-time job to support your studies, and how often you will be able to return home to visit family.
One of the most important considerations will be where you are going to live. Once you have decided on the area of the UK where you want to attend university, and you have accepted your offer, you will need to think more specifically about your accommodation options. This can feel overwhelming for first-year students—but don’t worry, we’re here to help.
In this guide, we take a look at what international students need to think about before arriving at university and the accommodation options that will be available to you. We also explore how you can choose where to live and how Mansion Student can help you.
Before your arrival
Before you arrive in the UK to start the academic year, there are a number of things that you will need to consider. The most important element of this is arranging your student visa. This is now essential for almost all international students (except those from Ireland) and the earliest you can apply for it is six months before you start your course.
In some cases, your visa application will require proof that you have already arranged your accommodation. Whilst this is not always the case, it can make being granted a student visa a little easier and take some of the weight off you.
But how can you find somewhere to live before you even arrive? Virtual viewings are a great way of getting to know different types of properties. Your university accommodation office will often have more information about landlords or halls of residence that offer this. They can help you to arrange your student accommodation in advance of applying for your visa.
However, it is important to only access accommodation through legitimate channels. As there are some rental scams that specifically target international first years who may not have a good understanding of the UK rental process. Having a good grasp of the process will give you more awareness if you do come across a rental scam. For example, you will usually need to provide ID and sometimes proof of financial status (especially when you are renting privately), but should never transfer significant funds before legal documentation has been signed.
Accommodation options for first-year international students
There are a number of accommodation options for first-year international students in the UK. Perhaps the most straightforward option that many choose are student halls of residence, as many universities offer guaranteed accommodation for first year international students. This gives you the opportunity to settle into university life with less stress and you will sometimes be placed with other international students so you can build a strong sense of community.
If your university does not offer this, or you wish for more flexibility about where you live, another option is to apply for private or independent halls. These will still house students, but they may be from different year groups and backgrounds, and will not necessarily all attend the same university as you.
New international students can alternatively select purpose-built accommodation. This is entirely separate from the university you are attending and can give you much more flexibility about where you live and who you live with. These properties typically have more luxury features included, such as the cinema room, fitness studio and roof terrace we offer at our Ernest Place property in Durham.
Choosing where to live during your first year
When choosing where to live in your first year as a university student, reflect on your accommodation requirements and priorities. As an international student, you may not be familiar with your surroundings and so the location might be very important. If you want to explore the city a lot, you may wish to live more centrally, but there will also be options if you would prefer to live in a quieter area.
What you should consider as a priority is how close you are to the university campus. During your first year, you will be attending a lot of lectures and seminars, but you may also wish to attend a lot of social events in your students’ union or similar. You may want to live in a property that is on campus or nearby, or at the very least has excellent transport links. Our Redvers Tower property in Sheffield, for example, is only a minute’s walk from the Sheffield Hallam Owen Building and a short commute to the University of Sheffield.
You should also think about what is around your accommodation. Can you easily access shops to buy food, and are there bars and restaurants to go to? Are there cultural attractions to visit, like museums and cinemas? This could impact your quality of life and how much of your local area you experience during your first year.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, you should consider the accommodation itself. Make sure that the accommodation you choose is the right size for you, and has good quality facilities and the features you want. Mansion Point in Manchester and Mansion Tyne in Newcastle, for example, both have a common room where you can gather and mingle with other students at the onsite events.
Renting privately with Mansion Student
If you are a first-year international student looking for a great place to live, then look no further. At Mansion Student, we offer privately-rented, purpose-built accommodation in several major university cities across the UK, with options to share with friends or have your own studio or apartment.
Our high-quality accommodation is secure and well maintained, providing a safe base from which to enjoy your first year in the UK.
For more information about any of our properties or for help and advice in finding the right student accommodation option for you, get in touch with a member of the Mansion Student team today.