This is one of the most exciting and stressful parts of booking your trip. You need to consider a few things:
- Do I want to stay in residence on campus, or do I want to find a private flat?
- Do I want to live on my own (and therefore find a studio or one-bed flat) or do I want to have the international student experience and live with other international or Scottish students?
- What is my budget? (See my budgeting post for more help!)
If you decide to live in student accommodations, you will need to consult the particular university at which you will be attending’s website. For those of you looking to attend Napier, see the Napier international student accommodation page.
Choosing to stay in university accommodations can save you a lot of hassle. You will be given internet, water, electricity, and probably a food plan, in a structured manner. However, if you choose to get the “living on your own” feel, acquiring a private flat can be done if you are committed enough.
Luke and I chose to find a private flat with a budget of £600. We managed to find an absolutely incredible flat through SouthSide Management that suits our needs perfectly, for £595. Our flat is a 22 minute walk (thank the lord for Google Maps) from the campus and an 11 minute walk from my aunt’s house (hallelujah). We both currently live with our parents while attending our university in Toronto, and it currently takes both of us over 2 hours to get to school, totaling 4 hours each day of wasted travel time. So, this caused us to place a high importance on proximity to our school. Most property management companies (SouthSide included) will often require that you provide a guarantor. This is simply someone who will take on the legal liability you may create if you are unable to do so. This individual (most likely a parent or aunt/uncle) will need to provide their income information to prove that they are eligible to take on such a risk.
Please keep in mind that Luke and I are in a bit of a special circumstance, in that we have my aunt there to check out our potential flats for us. Avoid committing to a place that you have seen online unless you can have someone trusted go to the flat to check it out for you ahead of time. Everything looks perfect online. For example, we saw a place online that was in our budget, was within walking distance to our school, and looked really cozy, so we had my aunt check it out. Thank God we didn’t commit to anything, because the second my aunt walked through the door, she was assaulted by the reek of pot. Now, some people may not mind this smell (though I have never met anybody, to each their own), Luke and I are decidedly against such a stench. Upon further inspection of the flat, she found it was worn and untended. Had we simply made our decision based on the online images, we would be very upset when we went to move in. If you do not have someone available to do such a thing for you, consider investigating student housing or plan to stay in a hostel your first few nights until you find somewhere suitable for you. Now, this is not ideal, but I believe it is a better alternative to signing yourself onto a flat that’s in reality horrid!
Make sure that you find something that you will be comfortable living in throughout your time there! If it can be avoided, do not settle! After all, you should be having the time of your life, and shouldn’t have to come home to a place you dread at the end of every day. Especially in Scotland, where the winters can be gloomy, try to pick somewhere cozy to return.
If you are a student studying a full year, you will be exempt from Council Tax. This only applies if you are going to complete a full year of study, and if you are going to be living only students. The other thing to keep in mind is to find a place that is furnished. This is very important! You do not want to be purchasing large items for your flat that you cannot use in the future (you’ll have to leave them behind). You will generally need to purchase linens (sheets and towels) and often cutlery and small appliances. Check the inventory list of your flat for your specific requirements to be able to budget ahead of time. IKEA and Argos are good places to find deals for short-to-medium term options.
Finding a place should be fun! Have fun with it.