Affordable Accommodation Options for International Students in the UK

Find budget-friendly housing options in the UK for international students pursuing their master's degree. Explore dormitories, shared apartments, hostels, and more. Discover tips and advice for securing affordable accommodation and immerse yourself in the vibrant student community. Start your study abroad journey with the perfect place to call home.

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May 25, 2023 05:30 AM
Studying abroad in the UK is an exciting opportunity for international students, but finding affordable accommodation can be a daunting task. As an international student, you want a comfortable and affordable place to call home during your master's degree journey. This comprehensive guide aims to help you navigate the sea of accommodation options in the UK and find the perfect fit for your budget and needs.

Dormitories: Budget-Friendly and Convenient

Exploring Dormitories

Dormitories, also known as student halls, are a popular choice for international students in the UK. These purpose-built accommodations offer a range of benefits, including affordability, convenience, and a vibrant student community. Dormitories are usually located on or near university campuses, allowing you to immerse yourself in campus life and easily access academic resources.

Types of Dormitories

When it comes to dormitories, there are different types available to suit varying preferences and budgets. Traditional dormitories consist of single or shared rooms with communal facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms, and study areas. They are an excellent option if you enjoy socializing with other students and want a true campus experience.
Alternatively, there are also modern en-suite dormitories that provide private rooms with attached bathrooms. These offer more privacy while still allowing you to interact with fellow students in common areas. Additionally, some universities offer catered dormitories where meals are provided, which can be a convenient option for busy students.

Applying for a Dormitory

To secure a spot in a dormitory, you will typically need to apply through your chosen university's accommodation office. It's crucial to apply early, as demand for dormitories can be high. The university will provide you with application instructions, deadlines, and details about the available options. Make sure to thoroughly review the accommodation choices, consider your budget, and select the dormitory that aligns with your preferences.
Pros and Cons of Dormitories
Affordable option
Limited privacy
Convenient location near campus
Shared facilities with other students
Opportunities for social interaction and building friendships
Availability may be limited
Easy access to university resources and amenities
Rules and regulations to abide by
Organized activities and events for residents

Shared Apartments: Affordability with Flexibility

The Appeal of Shared Apartments

Shared apartments are another popular and affordable accommodation option for international students in the UK. These apartments offer a balance between privacy and social interaction. Sharing an apartment with other students not only helps to split the rent but also provides an opportunity to create lasting friendships and share memorable experiences.

Finding Suitable Roommates

One of the key considerations when opting for a shared apartment is finding compatible roommates. You can connect with potential roommates through university forums, social media groups, or dedicated roommate-matching platforms. It's important to communicate openly and discuss expectations, lifestyle preferences, and budgets before committing to sharing an apartment.

Securing a Shared Apartment

To secure a shared apartment, you can explore various channels such as online rental platforms, local estate agents, or student accommodation agencies. Be sure to research the rental market in your desired city and start your search well in advance. When viewing apartments, consider factors like location, amenities, and proximity to your university. It's also advisable to review the rental agreement carefully and understand the terms and conditions before signing.

Hostels: Budget-Friendly Temporary Accommodation

The Convenience of Hostels

If you are looking for temporary and budget-friendly accommodation upon arrival in the UK, hostels can be an excellent choice. Hostels are known for their affordability, flexibility, and social atmosphere. They provide a temporary base where you can settle in, explore the city, and begin your search for more permanent accommodation.

Finding and Booking Hostels

When searching for hostels, numerous online platforms specialize in hostel bookings and offer detailed information about the facilities, prices, and reviews. These platforms allow you to filter your search based on location, price range, and desired amenities. It's advisable to book in advance, especially during peak seasons or if you have specific preferences.

Recommendations and Anecdotes

Many international students have shared positive experiences staying in hostels at the beginning of their study abroad journey. Hostels often organize social events, city tours, and group activities, providing an excellent opportunity to meet fellow travelers and make new friends. Some students have even formed long-lasting friendships with their hostel mates and continued to explore the UK together.

Alternative Affordable Accommodation Options

In addition to the popular choices of dormitories, shared apartments, and hostels, there are several alternative options that international students can consider when searching for affordable accommodation in the UK.

Homestays: Immersion in British Culture

Homestays provide a unique opportunity for international students to live with a local host family. This accommodation option offers a deeper cultural immersion experience and the chance to practice English language skills. Homestays often include a private room and shared facilities with the host family. Meals may also be provided, either as part of the arrangement or for an additional cost. Living with a host family not only provides a comfortable and affordable place to stay but also offers valuable insights into British customs, traditions, and everyday life.
Homestay Options and Costs
Homestay Option
Cost (per week)
Standard Homestay
Private room, shared facilities, meals
En-suite Homestay
Private room with en-suite bathroom, meals
Half-board Homestay
Private room, breakfast and dinner provided

Student Houses: Independence with Roommates

Renting a student house with other students can be an affordable and independent living option. Student houses are typically located near universities and come in various sizes, accommodating multiple students. By splitting the rent and utility costs among housemates, students can enjoy a more spacious living arrangement at a lower cost per person compared to other accommodation options. Student houses often feature shared kitchens, living spaces, and individual bedrooms, providing a balance between privacy and social interaction.

Private Rentals: Freedom and Flexibility

For students seeking more freedom and privacy, private rentals such as flats or apartments can be an option. While private rentals may come at a higher cost, they provide students with greater independence and flexibility. Renting a private flat allows students to create their own living space and personalize it according to their preferences. Online platforms, local estate agents, and student accommodation agencies are valuable resources for finding available rental properties that fit within specific budgets and desired locations.

Comparison of Accommodation Options

When it comes to finding affordable accommodation options as an international student in the UK, there are several choices to consider. Each option offers its own advantages and considerations, allowing students to find the best fit based on their budget, preferences, and lifestyle. Let's compare some of the popular accommodation options available:
Accommodation Option
Social Interaction
On or near university campuses
Communal facilities (kitchens, bathrooms, study areas)
Vibrant student community
Shared Apartments
Varies depending on location and number of roommates
Throughout the city
Shared kitchen and living spaces, individual or shared bedrooms
Interaction with roommates
Central locations
Shared or private rooms, common areas, kitchen facilities
Opportunities to meet fellow travelers
Varies depending on the host
Throughout the city
Private room, shared facilities with the host family
Immersion in British culture
Student Houses
Splitting rent among housemates
Near universities
Shared kitchen, living spaces, individual bedrooms
Living with other students
Private Rentals
Varies depending on location and property
Throughout the city
Self-contained flats or apartments with private facilities
Independence and privacy

Tips for Finding Accommodation in the UK as an International Student

Finding suitable accommodation in the UK can be a competitive process, but with careful planning and preparation, students can secure their ideal place to stay. Here are some useful tips to guide international students in their accommodation search:
  1. Start Early: Begin your search as early as possible, preferably immediately after receiving your acceptance from the university. This gives you more time to explore options and increases your chances of securing affordable accommodation.
  1. Set a Budget: Determine your budget based on the funds available for accommodation. Consider not only the monthly rent but also additional costs like utilities, internet, and transportation.
  1. Research Locations: Familiarize yourself with the cities or towns where your chosen universities are located. Research the cost of living, public transportation, safety, and proximity to essential amenities such as grocery stores, libraries, and healthcare facilities.
  1. Utilize University Resources: Many universities have dedicated accommodation services or offices that provide guidance and support to international students. Take advantage of these resources to get information about available options, application processes, and rental contracts.
  1. Join Student Forums and Groups: Engage with online communities and social media groups where you can connect with current students or fellow international students. They can share valuable insights, recommendations, and even potential roommate opportunities.
  1. Attend Accommodation Fairs: Some universities organize accommodation fairs or events where local landlords and accommodation providers showcase their offerings. These events can provide direct access to various accommodation options and an opportunity to ask questions in person.
  1. Inspect and Review: When visiting potential accommodations or viewing them online, pay attention to details like room size, cleanliness, security, and the condition of facilities. Read reviews and testimonials from previous tenants to gain insights into their experiences.
  1. Understand Rental Agreements: Before signing any rental agreement, carefully read and understand the terms and conditions. Pay attention to rent payment schedules, notice periods, and any additional costs or restrictions.
By following these tips and being proactive in the accommodation search, international students can find affordable and suitable housing options that meet their needs while studying in the UK.
Remember, while affordable accommodation is important, it's equally essential to prioritize safety, comfort, and proximity to your university and essential amenities. Balance your budgetary constraints with your desired living experience to make the most of your study abroad journey in the UK.

How to Find Accommodation in the UK as an International Student

Finding suitable accommodation in the UK as an international student can seem overwhelming, but with proper planning and research, it can be a smooth process. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you find your ideal place to stay:
  1. Start Early: Begin your accommodation search well in advance, ideally as soon as you receive your university acceptance letter. Early planning gives you more options and better chances of securing affordable accommodation.
  1. Utilize Online Platforms: Explore popular online platforms dedicated to student accommodation, such as university accommodation portals, student-specific websites, and reputable rental platforms. These platforms provide extensive listings and allow you to filter your search based on location, budget, and other preferences.
  1. Join Student Forums and Groups: Engage with online student forums, social media groups, or university communities where you can connect with current students or fellow international students. They can offer valuable advice, share accommodation recommendations, or even provide potential roommates.
  1. Consider Budget and Priorities: Determine your budget and prioritize your needs. Understand that certain locations and amenities may come at a higher cost. Be realistic about what you can afford and consider compromises if necessary.
  1. Visit the Accommodation: If possible, visit the accommodation in person or arrange a virtual tour to get a better sense of the place. This helps you assess the living conditions, facilities, and proximity to your university and other essential amenities.
  1. Read the Rental Agreement Carefully: Before signing any rental agreement, carefully review the terms and conditions. Pay attention to clauses regarding rent, deposit, utility bills, maintenance responsibilities, and notice periods.
  1. Seek Advice from University Accommodation Services: If you're unsure or need guidance, reach out to your university's accommodation office. They can provide further information, answer your queries, and offer support throughout the accommodation process.
Remember, staying positive and proactive throughout your accommodation search will greatly contribute to finding the perfect place to call home during your study abroad experience in the UK.


Securing affordable accommodation as an international student in the UK is an essential aspect of your study abroad journey. Dormitories, shared apartments, hostels, and other alternative options provide a range of choices to suit different budgets and preferences. By starting your search early, utilizing online platforms, and considering the advice in this comprehensive guide, you can find the ideal accommodation that enhances your study abroad experience. Embrace the excitement of discovering your new home in the UK, immersing yourself in a vibrant student community, and creating lifelong memories as you pursue your master's degree.


1. How do I find affordable accommodation as an international student in the UK? To find affordable accommodation, start by researching different options such as dormitories, shared apartments, hostels, and private rentals. Utilize online platforms, university accommodation services, and student forums to gather information and compare prices. It's also beneficial to start your search early and consider locations that are slightly farther from the city center, as they tend to be more budget-friendly.
2. Is it cheaper to live in a dormitory or rent a shared apartment? The cost of living in a dormitory versus renting a shared apartment can vary depending on the location and specific circumstances. Dormitories generally offer more affordable rates, especially those managed by universities. However, shared apartments may provide more space and freedom at a slightly higher cost. It's important to consider your budget and preferences when making this decision.
3. Are there any additional costs apart from the monthly rent? Yes, there can be additional costs to consider when renting accommodation. These may include utility bills (electricity, water, gas), internet charges, council tax (if applicable), and contents insurance. It's important to factor in these costs when budgeting for accommodation.
4. Can I work part-time to cover my accommodation expenses? International students in the UK are typically allowed to work part-time during their studies. However, there are restrictions on the number of hours you can work per week. It's important to check the specific regulations and guidelines set by the UK government and your university to ensure compliance. Part-time work can help supplement your income and cover some of your accommodation expenses.
5. How can I ensure the safety and security of my accommodation? Safety is a crucial factor to consider when choosing accommodation. Look for accommodations that have secure access systems, well-maintained properties, and proper fire safety measures. Reading reviews and feedback from previous tenants can also provide insights into the safety standards of a particular accommodation option.
6. Can I change my accommodation if I am not satisfied with my initial choice? In some cases, it may be possible to change your accommodation if you are not satisfied with your initial choice. However, this depends on the availability of alternative options and the terms of your rental agreement. It's important to thoroughly research and visit potential accommodations before making a decision to minimize the need for changes later on.
Remember, it's essential to conduct thorough research, plan ahead, and consider your individual needs and preferences when selecting affordable accommodation as an international student in the UK. Don't hesitate to reach out to university accommodation services or consult with study abroad consultants for further guidance and support.

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