MSc Control of Infectious Diseases student Nwaizu Azuka shares his advice on finding somewhere to live in London:
The Master’s Degree programme at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is quite intensive and as such, requires undiluted focus. It cannot be overemphasized that having a comfortable accommodation is a good recipe towards finding that peace of mind and focus needed for the study. The following are tips which I consider essential towards securing a good accommodation.
- Consider your finances/budget: As you may have heard, London is ‘expensive’, but it is also possible to survive in it, even on a restricted budget. Generally, accommodation in central London is more expensive, sometimes up to 2-3 times higher, than in the ‘periphery’ (zones 3 and 4, for instance). There is therefore, the possibility to trade high rent and proximity to the school for lower rent and up to an hour commuting time to the School. The transport system is good.
- Consider how to get to the School: You can access the School, which is in central London, from most places within zones 3 and 4 within one hour. However, you have to be certain of the route to the School and the estimated travel time. Nearness of the accommodation to a train station or bus stop is an asset. I found out, however, that over ground trains may be unreliable at times, and congestion during peak times may prolong bus journeys. Your best bet might be a route that is entirely on the underground/tube. (Apps like citymapper or the transport for London website- tfl.gov.uk can help you plan your journey to the minute).
- Consider using online resources/ the University of London housing services. They are really helpful with the accommodation search and can also help you evaluate your accommodation contract. Word of mouth is also quite helpful, especially giving you an idea of the Landlord.
- Length of Contract: Generally, a lengthy contract of >6 months is not advisable. This is so that in case your Landlord is not keeping his end of the agreement or you do not like the place or you have other reasons to want to move; you are not tied down to a long contract that will introduce some hassles when you want to move.
- See the accommodation first: It is preferable to get to the accommodation first before making any commitment whatsoever. Preferably, visit the place during the day and also at night, to assess its suitability as well as the ease of accessibility. Finally, please do not make any financial commitment on the internet, except if you are completely sure of the genuineness of the people involved.