Portsmouth is a lively university city of 20,000 students with lots of shared student houses and flats available at relatively inexpensive prices, so our students generally find it quite easy to find their own accommodation. You too may prefer to find your own accommodation while you are studying with us, so here are some tips and advice that may be helpful to prepare you for the experience, plus some useful websites too:
1. Choose your accommodation carefully.
Make sure you know where you will be living, exactly what the rental contract is, what is included and what the cancellation terms are. Prices and quality of houses can vary considerably and some student houses in the UK may not be what you would expect in your country. Do your research so you know what to expect.
2. Find out as much as you can about your potential house/flatmates beforehand and don't have too higher expectations.
Sometimes the people you live with may be really friendly and you will form a great relationship with them. At other times this may be less easy to do and people may lead very separate and busy lives, so you may not have so much contact and you may feel lonely. Be prepared.
3. You may not have as much social interaction with native English speakers as you would like.
There might not be as many opportunities to practise your English as you might have when living with a homestay family. Sometimes your house/flatmates may be very busy, already have strong friendship groups and be less sociable with you than you would like, or may come from other countries or even speak the same language as you.
4. Council tax.
This is something that you will probably have to pay as an extra - check with your landlord/lady first if this is included in the rent as it is quite expensive in the UK. For more information, have a look here.
5. TV Licence.
If you are renting a room or flat privately and have a television, you will need to get a TV licence, which is quite expensive in the UK. You can buy one via direct debit, online or pay in cash or by cheque at any local pay point. You must have a licence in the UK if you own a TV, otherwise you could be fined up to £1,000.
How to find accommodation yourself
You can often find slightly cheaper student accommodation via websites and in the local newspaper. The local agencies often offer slightly more expensive accommodation, which is often higher quality and may be more suitable for couples or families, but is often for a minimum contract of 6 months or more. Again, make sure you check the contract and cancellation terms in detail. Below are some websites and agencies our students have used in the past:
Watch out for scams!
If you are arranging your own accommodation directly and not using an agency, please beware of scams.
Never give anyone your bank details or any money until you have seen the property and signed a contract. Even if the person seems very friendly, it is not normal to hand over any money before viewing a house/flat.