One of the main obstacles for international students trying to settle down is finding housing in the UK, where there is an increasing population of foreign students, including an increasing number of Nigerians.
According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the UK has reached its goal of 600,000 international students, having enrolled 605,130 of them for the 2020–2021 academic year.
International students constitute a major share of 452,225, out of the total students. Africa’s most populous nation is among the top five countries with the highest number of international students, recording a total of 21,305 students enrolled in UK institutions.
And more Nigerian students are going to the UK to study as the number of student visas given to Nigerians surged by 222.8 percent to 65,929 in June 2022 from 20,427 in the same period of 2021.
“Even people who are financially buoyant are still looking for accommodation here because the UK does not have enough housing for immigrants,” Tomisin Boboe, a master’s student at Nottingham University, UK, said.
Adewale Adetona, a digital technologist and marketing consultant, said the current accommodation crisis in the UK has forced students to live in neighbouring cities close to their schools.
“This comes with some disadvantages including being away from your schoolmates and the cost of transportation,” he said.
Adetona, who is based in London, said it is often advisable for immigrant students, especially Nigerians, to make adequate preparations and equip themselves with the right information before embarking on their UK education journey, especially post-graduate students.
Here are five tips on finding the right accommodation in the UK.
Research on available housing options:
According to Studying-in-UK.org, one of the largest information portals for international students, having a general idea of which part of the city one wants to live in and the available options helps in solving housing issues quickly.
“Nowadays, doing research is an easy task. There are many useful resources, including many websites for housing in the UK,” it said in a recent article.
Some of the popular platforms to secure accommodation are Zoopla, Rightmove, Openrent and onthemarket.
Know the location of the university
Knowing where your university is located is very important as it helps to get the right accommodation. It helps to determine the rent to a certain degree.
The first thing to do is to know the area where your school or work is because the UK addresses have postcodes, said Toyyib Adelodun, a UK-based immigration consultant.
“If you are in a university, know the address of your campus so that you can use the postcode to search. You can be fortunate to get a place close to the school, which saves transport cost,” Adelodun added.
Studying-in-UK.org also stated that in a downtown area, that is a place in or towards the centre of a large town or city, you can hardly find cheap accommodation to rent.
“In contrast, apartments and private houses in the periphery have lower rent prices.”
It said aside from minor disadvantages like the distance from the city centre, they are quieter, safer, less overloaded with traffic, and many students reside there; so it’s a great opportunity to socialise.
Apart from school fees, rent is the highest expenditure you will have when studying abroad. A recent report by SBM Intelligence said out of the total £1.93 billion contributed by Nigerian students and their dependents in 2021, £408.4 million was spent on rent.
Analysis of the average monthly rent for 10 cities in the UK from Studying-in-UK.org and immigration consultants shows that London is the most expensive city to live in in the UK.
For example, renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre of London costs £1,730, higher than £1,060 for Oxford, Cambridge (£1,030), Bath (£800) and Edinburgh (£770).
For a one-bedroom apartment outside the city centre, it costs £1,235 in London, £870 in Oxford, £820 in Cambridge, £680 in Bath, and £605 in Edinburgh.
Adelodun said London is the most expensive. “That is why you need more money for proof of funds in London than outside London. Big cities like London have great transport networks where you don’t really need a car.”
Have a guarantor
Before getting to the UK, it is advised that one gets a guarantor who is already a resident of the country.
“Get someone to act as a guarantor for you, especially if you are new to the country and do not have some of the documentation/records required yet,” Adetona said.
Adelodun said the main reason for this is that most landlords have mortgages to pay the bank monthly; so they need to be sure that you can pay the rent.
“They will need a reference from your previous landlord and also a guarantor that you may not have as a new person in the UK,” he said.
If you don’t have the financial means to secure an apartment, it is advised to get another student to help secure one.
If you are coming with your family, it is always advisable that one parent comes first and sort out accommodation, then the other members can follow.