Looking for housing (especially in a city where you have never lived in) is quite a daunting task. I don’t want to admit that I did this, but a year ago, I maniacally spent a couple hours on google looking for a place to live. I narrowed down my options to Residence Halls so I could not stress out about private accommodation. Private accommodation can be cheaper, but it takes more time and energy to find a place (especially if you are not familiar with London). With LSE Halls, all I had to do was apply for a hall. During the halls application process, you are given the option to rank a couple of the residences. I would see one residence and be like “Ooh I like that” and then look at another and be like, “No this one”, wait “This one has catering” and wait “This one has a pool!” and so on and so on. To provide some guidance with the housing process, I asked some of my friends that are in LSE Housing and private accommodation about what factors they prioritized when picking their housing and here is what we came up with:
This was extremely important to me and most of my friends. Where you are located dictates where you usually eat, do your morning runs, how you get to school, etc. Granted, most halls are within a 30-45 minute radius on your preferable mode of transportation (walking, biking, public transportation, Segway riding). Traveling less can also free up more time for studying or happy hours or however you want to spend your time. Also, some halls are in some busy areas of London. Grosvenor House is right next to Covent Garden Market, Lilian Knowles is near Liverpool street, Butler’s Wharf is walking distance from the London Tower Bridge, but it is good to keep in mind whether you want to be in a busy and lively area, or a more quiet one.
2. Social Life
Speaking from the graduate student perspective, you can still have a social life. Some halls are more conducive to a social life than others (High Holborn, Lilian Knowles, Butler’s Wharf to name a few). Arguably, it can depend on how many events take place in your hall or who is living in your hall, but we found that the halls where you share kitchens or receive catering are more social than others. Also, if you are in private accommodation (depending on your situation), you might not be living with students. Being in the same hall as students really gives me a sense of relief. A big part of my decision to live in a hall was the community part. A lot of my close friends live in my hall and it is very convenient to hang out with them.
Private accommodation could be cheaper, but since the housing market moves extremely fast, you really have to act fast. Some friends of mine messaged people in the LSE Students facebook page or went on third party sites to find an accommodation in their price range. In terms of LSE Housing, some halls are significantly cheaper than others. I am not going to go into great detail about the prices, but I suggest you pick a place that fits your budget and somewhat lives up to your living expectations. It is also helpful to factor in the price of surrounding shops and stores. More developed areas such as Covent Garden or Fitzrovia might have more options, but can have pricier restaurants. No accommodation will be the perfect fit at first, but you will make the most out of it. For more specific rates, you can visit this site.
4. Room Types
Whichever room you choose also affects the price. For LSE Housing, there are a couple of options. I currently live in a single studio and I LOVE IT. I would not change a thing and think I might choose to live alone until I have to live with my parents again or am in a serious relationship (hoping for the latter to happen, but that’s not happening any time soon… I think!) You have to ask yourself, what room type will give you a better experience? Living alone, or having a roommate, single room with a kitchen, or private housing. I believe many rooms have shared bathroom/kitchen unless it is a private studio. I hear friends loving the shared kitchen idea. But personally, I love having my own kitchen and cooking for the four people I love the most: ME, MYSELF, AND I…. and Oprah if she ever comes to my hall. I have only met her once, but I will ask her the next time I see her (maybe never again, but it doesn’t hurt to dream).
Although I didn’t factor amenities in my decision for housing, you may want to consider your preferences for the following amenities: bed, desk, laundry, common room, security, exercise room. In my case, as long as there was a laundry and common room, I could not complain. Again these amenities really depend on what hall you choose. If you do private housing, you might have to find your own mattress or buy your own kitchen supplies, but this is all part of the process of moving into a new place. Some housing option can be better than others, but it all boils down to personal taste, so I would worry about this aspect in the least. It really depends what’s important to you.
As I said before, there is nothing wrong with living in the halls and it makes the housing process less stressful. I personally chose Grosvenor House for the location and the fact that only graduate students live in this hall (Doesn’t mean we don’t know how to have fun) and it is a 5-10 minute walk to LSE (and if you run and don’t care about getting hit by a car, make it a 3 minute commute). I will probably write a blog about my experience at Grosvenor House (which is pretty awesome thus far) and how it applies to the list above. In the mean time, hope this list is helpful for incoming and prospective students. At the end of the day, you know yourself best.