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How to reduce your living costs: rent

7 March 2017

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Ask most students what they spend the largest proportion of their money on each month, and the answer (disregarding a few enviable individuals with a family home in London) will be the same: rent.

Regularly ranked in the top 20 most expensive places in the world to live, it’s not surprising that London rents can be daunting for those on a student budget. Students moving from university halls in particular may feel worried about tackling the private renting sector in a metropolis as sprawling and competitive as that of London.

However, cheap housing – although rare – is not impossible to find. With careful planning, insider knowhow and some smart decisions, it is more than possible to find a place to live in London that doesn’t break the bank.

Here are UCL’s Student Funding Welfare tips to finding cheap rent in London.

Use UCL resources to find your home

UCL currently subscribes to the UoL’s Housing Services, meaning that all UCL students can make use of their resources in finding a place to live. These include:

  • a database of housing provided only by landlords who have signed a Code of Good Practice and are experienced in renting to students
  • legal advice for students experiencing problems with their housing
  • contract checking service for students wanting clarification or reassurance before signing tenancy agreements
  • a guide to private housing covering where and when to look, what to expect and things to watch out for

Homeshare with an elderly person

If you’d be happy to share the home of an elderly person for as little as £160 rent per month then homeshare is a great option for living affordably in London. Most programmes require that you spend 10 or so hours supporting the person you live with each week in tasks like shopping, cooking or gardening. Make sure you apply in good time as the matching process can take up to 6 weeks.

Become a property guardian

Being a property guardian means living in a vacant building (maybe an old school, office or house) to keep it secure and ensure squatters don’t move in. Facilities may be basic but rents are low and there’s often a strong sense of community between guardians. Companies like Dot Dot Dot Property also require their guardians to volunteer, adding a social dimension to their scheme.

Become a Residence Advisor

Residence Advisor positions are open to postgraduate students and allow students to live in UCL student accommodation rent free. In exchange, the Residence Advisors must be ‘on call’ twice a week to give pastoral support to the other students living in halls.

If you are planning on doing a postgraduate course in 2017/18 and like the sound of the role, you should apply quickly, as applications are already closing.

UCL Halls are always there

Although priority for UCL student accommodation goes to first year undergraduate students, there are often rooms (particularly at the cheap end of the spectrum) left up for grabs. If renting privately doesn’t work out or you find yourself in need of a place to stay, contact UCL Student Accommodation to see what they have available.

UCL Student Funding Welfare provide advice and support to students on finance and funding via email, over the phone or in face-to-face appointments.

Email Student Funding Welfare

By Katy Foster, Student Funding Welfare Officer