Accommodation in the major cities of both the UK and USA can be expensive unless you know where to look.

Congratulations! You have been accepted to the university or college of your choice in the US or the UK! Now you  must decide on where you will live. It can be expensive to live in a new location, especially if your university or college in near or in a major city in the US or the UK.  Schools like Columbian University, and City University London, can be difficult to navigate for the best living experience if you have limited resources for planning multiple trips to your new destination to search for housing, or if you do not want to spend too much on living expenses? But how much is too much?

See it…Love it? Do More Research

More than any other factor during your housing research, starting early is the key to the best prices and the best accommodations. Too often, international students arrive to the US and the UK and they have not found affordable and comfortable accommodations. May believe that they can look once they arrive at their new location. This is a mistake! Students who put off this important task too close to the start of school, can end up in unavoidable housing situations. Don’t let this happen to you! Avoid the expensive housing trap by talking to your international student advisor at your university about housing options, contacting the off campus housing director at your new school, and pricing dorms on campus that help cut down on other costs (such as transportation to and from classes).

Tip: check to see if your school guarantees housing options for you during your first year (US). 

Major Cities Exploration

The most popular cities in the UK and the US are famous for the most expensive accommodations. There is no exception for students—unless you understand the timing, pricing, and living situations that are available to you. You already know to start early, so what are you looking for, and where? To your greatest advantage in our technological age is the power of the Internet. If you don’t have extra resources to physically search over seas,  extensive graphic information systems websites like Google Maps, and Map Quest will allow you to ‘see’ your new city and the neighborhood that you may live in. You can even explore your new campus intricately to learn where your classes will be in relation to your dorm or apartment! Most importantly you can use the Internet to search for housing on and off campus through university, community, and Internet listservs. Tip: join as many student-housing listservs as you can! The more information you have on housing the better your decision-making process can be!

Major cities in the United Kingdom and the United States

Consider your currency when looking for a suitable living situation. The switch between Pounds and Dollars can be a pleasant surprise or a nightmare when searching for housing. The current city hot spots in the US and the UK such as New York, London, Los Angeles, Manchester, Washington D.C., and Edinburgh are beautiful places to live but often are quite pricey. In a major city, you pay for the commodities of having the world literally at your fingertips and in walking distance. But consider that the average price for an apartment in Washington DC may equal or be greater than $2000 for a two-bedroom. And in Manchester? You may pay £757 for a much smaller flat. Tip: If your heart is set on living in the city, find a great roommate…or two…or three! You can use your university and community housing resources or websites such as USA Student Residences, or The Student Room UK to begin your search.

Price Over Quality? That is the Question

When looking for your new home as a student you don’t have to sacrifice the comfort and quality of your home for extreme prices. Remember these three tips, and you will be on your way to finding a great home for your studies abroad: 1) start your search early (at least six months before the start of school), 2) use the housing resources and coordinators available at your university, and 3) don’t be afraid to try a safe shared living environment! A happy, comfortable home, produces a happy productive student! Be smart in you search!

Sources: Education USA; US News, August 6, 2013; BBC Business New, October 18, 2013:www.nakedapartments.com; www.thestudentroom.co.uk; www.usastudentrooms.com. Accessed February 2014.