London is an expensive city and housing costs can loom large in your budget. That’s why it’s vital to think carefully when you’re moving out of halls and into the private sector. First of all, living in London is a big part of being a student at UCL. You’ll want to live somewhere that enables you to enjoy the experience but it’s also essential to consider affordability and practicality. For example, it’s often cheaper to live further from campus, but the savings need to be balanced against travel costs.

In this section, you can find out what to ask the landlord and what to look out for when viewing properties. Our advice helps you take the right steps to find the right place to live – and get a good deal. With University of London Housing Services‘ free legal advice, you can also check that your contract is fair and reasonable.

Finally, it’s important that you protect your own interests. Put all your communications with the landlord or agents in writing. Check the inventory properly. Take pictures of any damage or repairs you want to be carried out. Otherwise, you may be blamed for the damage and money deducted from your deposit.

Thinking about your finances

  1. Make sure you know exactly who’s paying what rent and when.
  2. Take meter readings as soon as you move in.
  3. Sort out your council tax exemption.


London is a big place, and there’s a lot to consider when looking for housing. Read some short case studies from UCL students and find out more about the the kind of accommodation available for students.

Shanie, Law Student

Area: King’s Cross
Rent: £800pcm
Beds: 4
Commute time: 10-15 min walk to UCL campus
Best thing about the area: Really accessible (near King’s Cross Station) with loads of restaurants and supermarkets nearby
Any negatives: Can feel a tiny bit scary walking around late at night near the station but didn’t have any problems.

Alice, BSc Maths and Economics

Area: Russell Square
Rent: £733 per month
Beds: Individual room
Commute: 10 mins by foot to UCL
Best thing about the area: Very close to UCL and convenient for grocery shopping
Any negatives: I can’t think of any!

Aderonke, Medicine

Area you live in: East London
Rent: Living at home
Commute time: Around 1 hour
Best thing about the area: Get to live with my family, home-cooked meals, laundry etc. easily done, no stress about paying for accommodation/Wi-Fi/bills
Any negatives: The commute to central London is relatively long, but as everything is online at the moment it’s not really an issue

Theo, BSc Mathematics

Area: Holloway
Rent: £700pcm
Beds: 6
Commute: 20mins bus or cycle
Best things: lots of markets and restaurants with exotic foods, very cheap area for how close it is, a lot of UCL students in the area
Negatives: none

Arisha, BSc Pharmacology

Area: Finsbury Park
Rent: £530pcm
Beds: 4
Commute time: 30mins by tube, 45 mins by bus
Best thing about the area: Really close to Finsbury park. Less than 10mins walk to a big Sainsbury. Easy access to halal food.
Any negatives: I can’t think of anything major.

Louis, BA History with a Year Abroad

Area: Holloway
Rent: £718 pcm
Beds: 6
Commute time: 30 mins by bus
Best things about area: Access to several parks, three supermarkets within a five minute walk, excellent transport links, great local pubs, studenty area, some great food options, feels safe at night, buzz and activity connected to the Emirates Stadium (though that could be a negative for some)
Any negatives: Is rather far from the centre (Zone 2, close to border of Zone 3), near start of A1 so pollution isn’t great

Elle, Msc Psychoanalytical Developmental Psychology

Area: Fitzrovia/ Goodge Street
Rent: 800pcm
Beds: 3
Commute time: 5 mins on foot to UCL
Best thing about the area: 10 mins walk away from Regent’s Park, 5 mins from UCL, 5 mins from Soho/Oxford Street. Many good eateries within the area
Any negatives: Not really, which is the reason why I’ve never moved since my 2nd year of undergraduate studies at UCL

Isabel, BA French and Italian

Area: Kentish Town/Hampstead Heath
Rent: £485pcm (sharing room) / 650pcm (not sharing)
Rooms: 4
Commute time: 30-25 mins by bus. Bus stops right outside and goes straight to King’s Cross or Warren Street.
Best thing about the area: Really convenient location- in a cheap part of an expensive area. The house has a roof terrace.
Any negatives: the walk in to uni is just under an hour which is fine on a nice day but I wouldn’t really want to do it in the winter.

*Prices are per room