It is important to remember, if you are using the lists of private rented accommodation provided by Student Housing Services, that although they try to secure a range of good quality housing at reasonable prices, the properties have not been inspected. You should not assume that listed accommodation is “approved accommodation”. You should never accept accommodation without first seeing the property. When you find accommodation you may have to pay a deposit immediately of up to one month’s rent and also one month’s rent in advance (always ask for a receipt). You may also have to pay a deposit for gas, electricity and telephone services. You should therefore have available around £800 for initial expenses such as deposit, rent in advance and the cost of temporary accommodation.
Your landlord or landlady will usually expect the rent on a fixed day, weekly or monthly in advance. Make sure you have a rent book or a receipt for the rent. If your landlord or landlady does not provide a rent book, buy one yourself (available from stationery shops) and ask them to sign it when you pay rent. A rent book may also list certain house rules (or these may be displayed elsewhere in the house). Check you understand these and can keep to them as they may form part of your contract of tenancy and are usually aimed at keeping the household running smoothly.
In self-contained flats, your rent will usually be payable monthly and your landlord or landlady is unlikely to live on the premises. Any rules you are required to keep will be written in the lease or agreement you have signed which is legally binding. The lease will usually be for specific periods and once you sign you are committed to renting the flat for that length of time. So study the lease carefully before signing, and if necessary take legal advice.
Before coming to the UK you should organize your money to ensure you have enough at the start of your course and for the duration of your course. You will also need to investigate the best ways to bring money into the UK.
Most students will have to buy bedding, clothes and basic essentials a the beginning of their stay. London is in general, milder than other parts of the UK. The summer tends to be warm; winter is usually cold and damp; spring and autumn are somewhere in between. £300 should be enough for additional clothing needs.
London hosts a wide range of entertainment venues catering to all groups of people. Dinner out can cost from £15 upwards. Cinemas in Central London cost around £10. Clubs cost from £8-£15. There are special discounts available to students so make sure you ask.
The cost of traveling in London is dependent on where you are traveling to and how often you need to travel. Weekly underground passes cost between £18.00 (or travel in central zones one and two) and £35 if you are traveling between central and outer London. Bus passes are much cheaper. Excellent discounts exist for full-time students.
London is very well served by British Rail. Reductions are available on British Rail if you buy a Young Person’s Rail card, which is available to anyone under 25 years. If you are over 25 you are entitled to a Student Rail card if you are engaged in 15 or more hours of education a week. Both cards obtain a one third reduction in price on train tickets. These cards can be purchased from BR train stations. British Rail has a number of special offers. Tickets may be cheaper if you book them in advance. These are known as Apex fares. It is important to note that when traveling at peak hours, that is, before 9am and on certain trains from about 5pm to 7pm, tickets will be considerably more expensive. Traveling on a Friday and on certain other days throughout the year is also more expensive.