London, December 20th 2014

Accommodation

Choosing the ideal place to live depends on the length of your stay in the country, and the amount of money you can invest. There are accommodations in family homes, school or university. And for those intending to stay less than a month there are also rooms that can be shared with other students in hostels, houses or flats. The most popular option for those who want to socialize, make new friends and experience new cultures is to share rooms in student residences, which typically houses people from all over the world. But remember, the transport in London is not cheap, so when choosing the place where you’ll live, it is important to keep in mind how much you want to spend on public transport. Check out some tips:

Accommodation at colleges and universities:
Typically, many colleges can accommodate students, offering different options of rooms for couples, single, or students coming with family. Advantages: opportunity to exchange ideas with other students. Disadvantages: Besides paying the rent in advance, you have to move during school holidays (but the school can help you find another place to live).

Hostel
Generally you can opt for single rooms, double or share with other students. Many serve meals or have kitchens that can be used. Advantages: people worldwide undergo weekly hostels, which is a great opportunity to learn about other cultures and improve your English.
Disadvantage: exactly by high turnover, people come and go all the time, which can make you feel not at home.

Kitchenettes
They are usually one room with kitchen attached, and bathroom. There are cases when you would need to share the bathroom with other residents. Advantages: a private space and more freedom.
Disadvantage: less contact with others.

The rent should be negotiated directly with a real estate agency or with the owner of the house, which the UK is known as ‘landlord’. The most practical is looking at options available in papers and websites such as: Loot (www.loot.com), Gumtree (www.gumtree.com), Spare room (www.spareroom.co.uk) and www.room4you.co.uk.

 Houses and Flats
The most popular option, with different kinds of rooms plus lounge, kitchen and bathrooms.
Advantages: full independence for you and your mates, as well as low cost, since all expenses are shared. There is still the possibility of living with foreigners, which forces the dialogue in English and refines knowledge of the language. Disadvantages: living in a flat means sharing everything, including bills, decisions and problems. Because of that, many people move a lot.

Youth Hostels
Ideal for tourists and those who are crossing the country, offering basic accommodation, where bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen are shared between everyone.
Advantages: low price, opportunity to know people from all over the world. Disadvantage: need to share almost everything with strangers. More information: Youth Hostels Association www.yha.org.uk, www.hostelworld.com.

Tenancy Agreement
Made directly to the owner of the house or with an agency. The tenant pays a cash deposit to the landlord, which may be returned, or used in replacement of the rental payment, when you leave the accommodation, which must be notified in advance. In case of problems with accommodation, you can contact the housing advice number 0808 800 4444. The call is free and the service operates 24 hours.

Council Tax
Fee paid to cover the police, fire brigade and waste collection. Ask the home owner or agency if you should pay it, since this cost is normally included in the rent. Students are exempt.

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