Hello, from Fernanda, Perla, and Alejandra. One of the most common questions we have as Link to Leeds ambassadors is about accommodation. Each one of the ambassadors has different experiences regarding this topic since we all have stayed in different places. That's why we decided to write a blog about uni accommodation, private shared, and a private studio accommodation.
When I was deciding on which accommodation to apply for, for my time in Leeds, one of the first things I had to choose was between a uni residence or private accommodation. For me, the decision was pretty simple: I wanted a university residence to make sure I would only have to make one payment and wouldn't have to worry about any additional costs.
I decided to settle for Royal Park Flats, a university residence located 10 minutes away from campus, in Royal Park Road. It was definitely the best decision I could have taken. I love the area, it is pretty safe, as it is located in a block full of student residences and close to two beautiful parks: Woodhouse Moor (better known as Hyde Park) and Burley Park.
In addition, the residence is very close to many supermarkets such as Sainsbury's, Abu Bakr, Continental Market, Lidl, and Aldi, so grocery shopping has always been easy. Additionally, it is only 15-20 minutes away from the city centre, and since it is really close, I constantly go there to see the many different things the shops and cafes have to offer.
The residence costs £108 per week,* which is fairly cheap for uni accommodation. It includes water, electricity, gas, and internet, so everything is pretty much covered in the accommodation fee. It is also great that we have a warden assigned to manage our flat complex since he makes sure to solve any sort of inconvenience that might appear during our stay. A plus in this residence is also the reception area, which is as well a common room that has a TV, a printer (that is free to use by the residents - yay!) and they always have free tea, hot chocolate, and coffee.
Additionally, the accommodation team constantly organises activities for the residents to get to know each other, which is really fun, especially those that are competitions, such as the cooking competition and the Christmas quiz, as they constantly give away gift cards for several online stores -have never won, though, such a bummer, haha-. Also, they constantly hold different types of workshops, such as the macramé and ceramic workshops, which some of my flatmates loved.
Regarding my room, it has a double bed and a hand-washer. It is pretty average in size -not too big, but not too small- there is no en suite, but it hasn't been as hard to adapt as I initially thought, and it has enough storage space and a big desk.
Another thing that I enjoy a lot is sharing my flat with PG students that go to Leeds too. It is a great way to make friends from different careers and countries and really expand your view of the world. Like any other group of flatmates, we had to arrange a few rules to maintain the order in the common areas such as the kitchen and bathroom, but so far we have been very well organised and without any inconveniences.
Overall, my impression of this residence has been great. I'm really enjoying my time in Royal Park Flats and my time with my flatmates, I definitely recommend it!
Last year when I was getting ready to come to Leeds I could not meet the deadline for Uni accommodation and the only choice I had offered from the accommodation team was a building that was around 30-40 minutes walking from Uni. It was a good choice but I wanted something closer to Uni. That's why I decided to search for another place closer to Uni. I found Unipol, a website where you can find different options of private accommodation. There are many options and different budgets, you can personalise your search according to your needs and find the perfect place for you.
My friend and I wanted a place for the both of us so we were looking for a place with at least two bedrooms. At the end, we found a four-bedroom house and contacted the agency. We could not afford to rent the whole house, but the agency let us rent only the room we needed (this is important because you’re only responsible for your room’s rent and not the whole house). Also, the agency allowed us to have an international guarantor. There were two empty rooms in the house and we invited two other friends to come to live with us. In this sense, we quite decided about who we were going to share the house with. These friends contacted the agency and rented the rooms.
In my case, I paid 325 pounds per month,* services included (water, electricity, and wi-fi). It was around 10-15 minutes walking from Uni and really close to Hyde Park too. Since this accommodation was more like a family neighbourhood, the supermarkets and stores were quite far (around 30 minutes walking to City Center). In the corner, there was a decent shop where you can find basic items but if you wanted something more specific or to go shopping, you would need to go a little further into the city.
My room was the basement one and it was the biggest one in the house but the window was quite small. I shared the bathroom with only one flatmate (the house was 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms) and we also shared the kitchen and the living room. In general, we were quite tidy and organised so the house was not always a mess.
In general, my experience in private shared accommodation was good since I had the possibility to choose my flatmates and the agency was always in touch with us.
When I was looking for my accommodation, I knew I wanted a studio since I like privacy, wanted to live off-campus, and most importantly for me, I wanted my own bathroom. I looked into several student accommodations that are external to the university and decided to go for the one I live in because one of my friends lived here a year ago and recommended it.
My accommodation is located on Cardigan Road, which is about 21 minutes away from the Student Union by foot. The walk to campus is pretty nice, I can go through Hyde Park to see some greenery or also walk on the pavement, both feel safe since there are a lot of student houses around. Even when returning home from campus in the afternoon/evening, I feel like there is always another student walking with me. My building is also conveniently located close to several supermarkets, for example, Co-op is 6 minutes away, Aldi is 11, and there is also a Londis just across the road. Cardigan Road is full of restaurants, so if you don’t feel like cooking, there are several options to get food close by! The walk to the City Center is about 30 minutes, so very close to even more restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops!
For me, the selling point of my accommodation are the incredible amenities it has. For example, we have modern communal areas such as a gym, cinema room, individual and group study areas, several lounges, kitchens (in case you don’t feel like cooking in your studio), and even a sauna and garden with a BBQ area! Additionally, we have continental-style breakfast every morning and unlimited tea, coffee, and hot chocolate (which I eat and drink every day because I love them!) We also have freebies (mostly food, which is helpful for us students) and events quite frequently, for example, we have movie nights, cooking classes, and are going to have several Christmas-themed events. Something else that was very important to me when choosing where to live is security. I was lucky to find a building that has someone in the reception all day, every day.
About my studio, it has everything a student needs! It includes a private bathroom, enough storage for your clothes and personal items, a desk, double bed, flat screen TV, and a small kitchen with more storage, a sink, microwave, fridge and freezer, and stove with two burners. Even though my room is not enormous, I love it because it is quite modern and comfortable.
My rent is £149/week,* and my building has other types of rooms for a higher price. Something to take into account is that a guarantor is needed for the rent. Since I didn’t have one, I had to pay for a rent guarantor service with an external company. The fees these companies charge depending on the property you want to rent, in my case I have to pay an additional fee of about £70/month for 8 months.
To end my contribution to this blog, I want to share my final thoughts about what is positive and negative about my accommodation. The main positive point, as I mentioned, are the amenities it has. This makes the building very fun to live in, as there is always something to do. Also, the rooms in my building are very nice and you have the option to stay in it if you want to be alone or go out and meet other students that live in the building. Finally, I would say the location is perfect and close to everything a student could need. On the other hand, I would say the main negative point is that it can be more expensive than living in other types of accommodation. If you don’t have a UK Guarantor, you either have to pay the total of your rent contract upfront or pay for rent guarantor services, which can be pretty costly. Something else that could be negative is that most of the students living here are undergrads, so I don’t have the chance to meet as many postgrads in my building. Nevertheless, everyone is very nice and friendly so that is not something to worry too much.
Overall, I have loved my time in my accommodation and would definitely recommend it. I have met some amazing people and the staff is super friendly and helpful.
GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS WHEN CHOOSING AN ACCOMMODATION
- Make sure to check the online reviews of the accommodation agency and the accommodation itself.
- If you contact an agency, make sure it is a well established one. don't make any deposits if you’re not sure the agency is reliable.
- Check the cancellation options you have, some accommodations won’t let you cancel before the ending of your contract.
- Always read the contract to see how long your contract is. In the UK the dates are quite established but you may be able to negotiate flexible dates.
- Verify if your rent contract needs a UK Guarantor. If it does and you don’t have one, take into consideration the extra rent guarantor costs.
- Verify if your room fare includes the utility bills (water, internet, gas, electricity), if not, this may increase the price per month considerably.
- Review what is included in the accommodation (cutlery, washing machine, microwave, etc).
- If you are meant to live with flatmates, check with how many people are you going to have to share the accommodation with, how many bathrooms, etc.
- Verify the location of the accommodation, check how far it is from the Student Union and/or the School in which you will have your lectures.
- As soon as you arrive at your accommodation, verify the state of your place and make sure it includes all the appliances stated in the contract. If something's off, make sure to talk to your landlord as soon as possible.
In the end, the best tip we can give you is that you get accommodation that first, fits your budget and most importantly, one where you are comfortable, not only with space but also with the people you will be living with. Remember, that the Leeds Student Union offers accommodation guidance in case you need it. Good luck when looking for your new home!
* The prices mentioned in this blog are correct for the 2020/2021 academic year.