Student Tips

London Accommodation Tips

22nd June 2020

We have been communicating our plans for new applicants and current students. However, we understand that you may be hesitant about arranging your accommodation for 2020/21 due to the current restrictions in place because of COVID-19.

Because there are a few questions being asked at the moment around securing accommodation, we’ve put together this handy guide for applicants, so you can begin to think about looking for your new house. And, who better to help us answer your questions than our current students? We also highly recommend joining our BIMM London Freshers Group.

Hi! I’m Nats and I’m a 2nd year BMus Popular Music Performance student at BIMM London. I’m here to give you some tips and answer some frequently asked questions that prospective students often have.

How did you find your accommodation when you first started at BIMM?

As soon as I accepted my place, I started looking for places just to give me a rough idea of prices and what kind of accommodation there was. I find it’s best to start seriously looking about two months before you’re due to start your course. If you look too far before that, it’s likely that a lot of landlords and estate agents will say that your move-in date is too far in the future, especially as they’ll have other people looking who could potentially be able to move in sooner.
On the other hand, don’t leave it too late to start looking! Searching and doing your research in advance will reduce your stress and panic. It will allow you to conduct viewings at your own leisurely pace, rather than rushing to find somewhere at the last minute.

How much, on average, do students spend on rent in London?

It really depends on what zone of London you’re looking in. In areas like Hammersmith, Fulham, Parsons Green and Chelsea, you’re typically looking at £500 per month at the cheapest, and over £1,000 per month for the more lavish places, or even for an average studio flat as they are always more expensive.
Generally, the most common figures I’ve come across in these areas are between £600 and £750. Of course, there are much cheaper places in other areas of London – it just depends on how far away from BIMM you’re willing to stay and how long or short you want your commute to be. There are some student accommodation buildings around the area too. However, these can be more on the pricey side in comparison with private housing.

Are there any areas in London you would recommend for students?

Anywhere with good transport links is a great choice for starters, as it means that you can get around the city efficiently, and explore all that London has to offer. Anywhere with a District or Piccadilly Line close by can be really helpful, as it makes getting into Central London and popular tourist areas very easy. Also, finding somewhere that has utilities and amenities around like shopping centres, supermarkets and recreational activities is great because it means you won’t have to make long journeys for the things you might need.
Personally, I love living in the Fulham area, as a lot of my BIMM friends live within walking distance or just a few stops away on a bus or train. It’s also within walking or bus distance to Chelsea, which has some very nice bars and restaurants. Fulham has great transport links, including the District Line, which can easily get you into the city centre, and a bus that can take you there as well. There’s also loads of restaurants and cafés, and a cinema in Fulham Broadway above the train station. Areas that surround BIMM are Clapham, Wandsworth, Shepherd’s Bush, Earls Court, Hammersmith, Putney, Parsons Green, Chelsea and West Kensington.

What kind of support is on offer for international students looking for accommodation?

Your first port of call is Student Support. They are equipped with lots of staff members who will gladly help you when it comes to filling out tenancy applications, obtaining a guarantor and communicating with landlords or agencies if English isn’t your first language.

Is it possible to sign up for accommodation before coming to the UK?

It is! Signing up for student accommodation from anywhere is relatively simple, and usually just requires applying online and filling out some forms. With regards to housing through a landlord or estate agent, it is best to go for a physical viewing if you can. This is because there can be situations in which people try to scam you by taking a deposit from you and then disappearing, or showing you old pictures of when a property was brand new, only for you to find out that it looks nothing like that once you arrive here.
Going for viewings means you’re seeing the property in the current state that it is in, and meeting potential current housemates who can get to know you a bit before you move in. You’re also able to wait until you’ve evaluated it thoroughly before handing over your money. Of course, you can sort out your accommodation prior to coming to the UK, but where possible it’s best to do it once you’re here and can keep on top of everything.

What should I be looking for when viewing accommodation?

Ideally, you want somewhere that has the means of transport for you to easily travel to BIMM as you’ll be there at least three days per week. You’ll also probably want somewhere that is furnished so that you don’t have to worry about buying and fitting furniture.
Finding places that accept students is a must because some landlords and agencies explicitly don’t want students, They would rather have tenants who are employed full time and are not relying on their maintenance loan to pay their rent. Some places are only available during the week. Ideally, you want somewhere where you can stay seven days per week, which you can specify in the filters on platforms such as SpareRoom.
It’s also helpful if you find places with tenants of a similar age to you, as it’ll most likely help you bond and create a nice household vibe. It’ll be even better if they’re musicians too as it means you won’t get any noise complaints! On a serious note, I advise that you ALWAYS tell landlords, estate agents and current flatmates/tenants that you’re a musician when you’re enquiring about or viewing a property. This just makes them aware that you’ll be practising at home and can let you know in advance whether that would be an issue for them or not.

Bonus Tips:

  • Apply for a Student Oyster Card for up to 30% off your travel in London
  • Once you’ve enrolled at BIMM, ask Student Support for a Student Status letter. This will give you exemption from paying council tax in private housing
  • Join the BIMM accommodation page on Facebook to find people to live with or properties to look at
  • ALWAYS go for viewings when it comes to private housing through landlords and estate agents

Author

Nats Kyriacou

Nats is a singer and songwriter from London, who performs under the name Natalie Grace. She blends her love of soul, funk and R’n’B to create her own music that floats between these genres. Her vocal style is influenced by the likes of Demi Lovato, Aretha Franklin, Joss Stone and Jocelyn Brown. To find out more about her and hear her music, head over to her Instagram (@NatalieGraceOfficialMusic) or YouTube (Natalie Grace).