Finding a flat can be one of the most difficult things to do when studying abroad. Especially if you’re limited by a budget.
Many people will decide against studying abroad just assuming that it’s too expensive for them. I’ve already covered the costs of tuition fees in different European countries in this post. But apart from that you have to take into consideration the rent, the cost of living, textbooks and travel. It might get a bit overwhelming.
But there are ways in which you can make hunting for a flat easier and make it more probable to find something within your price range.
Here are some tips that I learned from my own experience looking for flats both in Scotland and in Spain.
1 . Decide on halls or flat
The university will probably offer student halls, especially to first year students coming to the new place. It can be a good idea if the halls are within your budget and you want to save yourself the trouble of flat hunting yourself. But if money is tight, check the price of the halls. In some countries they will be cheaper than flats (for example in Poland). But in others, like the UK, it’s fairly easy to find a room in a shared flat much cheaper than the halls.
Halls open more possibilities of making friends quickly. Remember, however, that in halls you have no control over who you would be living with. Plus, the halls tend to be crowded, having many rooms and therefore people sharing one kitchen or bathroom. Take that into consideration and decide what is the best option for you.
2 . Know yourself
When deciding on a flat you need to have in mind your own preferences and lifestyle. If you’re planning on renting a room in a shared flat, talk to the landlord before making any decisions. Ask who are the other flatmates and what general expectations are when it comes to living together.
There will be flats where the landlords or other flatmates strictly avoid having parties, and you will have to conform to that. If you’re an introvert, you will likely not be happy with very noisy people and parties every weekend. Apart from that, just apply common sense. It’s likely that studying abroad you will end up living with other international students and it is a great experience.
3 . Start early
Start your research as soon as you get accepted into university. There are many things to know about the specific locations, the way people tend to organize the rental, possible dangers. For me starting early eliminates a lot of stress.
Unfortunately, in every city there might be people who try to take advantage of foreign students and will try to scam you. Here is a useful guide by SpareRoom on how to avoid that. I actually managed to get out of a suspicious agreement thanks to them.
Start researching on forums, groups on Facebook and rental sites. You will quickly get an idea of when the … come up and how quickly they tend to disappear. If you observe these sites for some time, you’ll also get an idea of what kind of flats the students tend to rent, what is the usual price range and the most popular locations.
4 . Mind the location
When it comes to location I think it’s the easiest point where you can save some money. The majority of flats for rent for students will likely be in the neighbourhood around the university. Having 5 minutes walking to the library is nice, but check the flats who are a little more far away. Around 15-20 minutes walking from university. The prices will almost certainly be lower.
5 . Take over
Every year the students who graduate will likely move out of their student flats. You can take advantage of that.
Look for Facebook groups for students of the university and ask if anyone is looking for someone to take over their room. Even better, find someone from your country and talk to them about flat hunting. They will likely either have something to offer you themselves or they will have friends who are looking to pass on their room. Talking to someone from your own country will make making the connection easier cause you’ll already have something in common.
6 . Take care of the details
In the end, once you find something you like and make sure all the legal stuff is ok, check out the last details. Ask the landlord or, if you’re able to see the flat beforehand, check yourself if there are bedsheets in the room, all the necessary furniture, iron, washing machine, etc. These might seem like insignificant details, but if one of those things doesn’t fulfil your expectations it might make your life harder at least at the beginning.
Do you have any experiences and tips yourself? Let me know in the comments!
last two pictures courtesy of: pixabay.com