How to rent a home in the UK as an international student

November 22, 2023
Last updated:
February 19, 2024
A person writing in a book in a library.

Embarking on a new academic adventure in the UK is an exciting journey filled with opportunities for personal and academic growth. As you prepare to make the leap to this vibrant and exciting country, one of the key considerations on your checklist will undoubtedly be finding a place to call home!In this guide, we'll walk you through the specifics of renting as an international student in the UK, helping you navigate the process with ease and confidence!

Understanding Your University's Accommodation Options:‍

Your first port of call in the housing adventure should be your university's accommodation services. Many universities in the UK offer on-campus housing (called Halls of Residence) for international students, providing a convenient and supportive living environment. Explore the various options available, from shared dorm-style rooms to self-contained studio apartments. Top tip: Make sure that you check application deadlines and procedures to secure your spot in university accommodation.

Private Accommodation‍

If on-campus housing isn't your preference or if it's not available, the private rental market in the UK is vast and diverse. Start your search early, keeping in mind the distance from your university, shops and restaurants in the area, and your budget. Websites like Hybr or SpareRoom are excellent resources for finding private rentals.


Before diving into your search, it's crucial to establish a realistic budget. Consider not only rent but also additional expenses like utilities, internet, and decorating your space so that you feel at home. Don't forget to account for your daily living expenses, including groceries and transport. Understanding your financial limits will help you narrow down your options and avoid any unexpected financial strains.

Tenancy Agreements and Legalities:

When you find a private property that you like, you'll enter into a tenancy agreement with the landlord. This document outlines the terms and conditions of your lease. Make sure to read it thoroughly and seek clarification on anything you don't understand. Make sure that your deposit is protected in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme.

Furnished vs. Unfurnished:

Consider whether you prefer a furnished or unfurnished property. Furnished accommodations typically come with basic furniture and appliances, which can be really convenient for international students. Unfurnished options allow you to bring your personal touch to the space but may require additional expenses to furnish, not to mention trips to IKEA!

Utilities and Council Tax:

Understand how utilities work in your new home. Some properties include all bills in the rent, while others require you to set up accounts for gas, electricity, water, and internet. Additionally, be aware of council tax, a local tax that helps fund essential services. Full-time students are usually exempt from paying council tax, but it's essential to inform the local council of your student status.

Deposits and Guarantors:

Most landlords will require a security deposit, which is usually equivalent to one month's rent. This deposit is refundable at the end of your tenancy, provided the property is in good condition. Every student in the UK needs a UK guarantor which just means someone based in the UK has UK residents signing an agreement saying that they will take liability for the rent if you do not pay you being the student. This is typically a parent or guardian, but they have to be UK based. If this isn’t possible, private renting offers guarantor replacement schemes, and Hybr can connect you to the right person you’d need to speak to. Another alternative is paying 6 to 12 months rent upfront, which we know isn’t possible for everyone

Get to know the Local Area:

Familiarise yourself with the local area before finalising your accommodation! Consider proximity to your university, access to public transport, supermarkets, healthcare facilities, and other amenities. Research (or even visit!) local cafes, pubs, bookstores and parks to see what life will be like in that area. Exploring the area will help you settle in more quickly and make the most of your time in the UK.

Student Discounts and Support Services:

As a student in the UK, you'll have access to a variety of discounts and support services. From public transport to your favourite clothes stores, being a student often comes with perks. Check with your university's international student office for information on available discounts and support services.

Cultural Adaptation and Building a Support Network:

Moving to a new country involves adapting to a new culture and lifestyle, as well as facing potential homesickness. Attend orientation and welcome events organised by your university, join student clubs, and participate in social activities to build a support network. Connecting with fellow students can make your transition smoother and enrich your overall experience!Renting as an international student in the UK is a significant step toward independence and personal growth.

By understanding the intricacies of the rental process, from budgeting and to legalities, you can embark on your academic journey with confidence. Remember, finding the right home is not just about the property itself but also about creating a comfortable and supportive environment that enhances your overall university experience. 

Happy house hunting, and welcome to your home away from home!‍

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