My mom said, “You should never travel to places where the bed is less comfortable than your own”. Of course, this comes from a person who does not like to leave her home at all. However, she sort of has a point. Most of the people love to travel and don’t mind exchanging comfort for a few days of leisure.
Nonetheless, when it comes to choosing a place where you are going to live for at least a year, you would certainly search for a comfy and enjoyable place. This search is just one of the things that international students have to add to their to-do list when they receive an offer from the university.
Here I will tell you my experience as a married international student looking for accommodation for couples, making the decision and giving you some insight into our chosen accommodation.
Looking for accommodations from abroad (where to look):
As simple as it sounds, the search for accommodation can be an intimidating task, especially when you’ve never been to the city. With my husband, we started by asking other people about their experiences in Manchester and they suggested us the website Gumtree which is an advert website for the UK and has an individual category for apartments to rent. It is a good starting point as you have all the information about each space (images, location, cost) and you can contact the owner directly to request more information.
The University of Manchester website offers a guide for finding accommodation in the city. Most importantly, it has a list of accommodation offered by the University and the instructions to apply. Application processes are long. We applied for Horniman House – the only accommodation that accepted couples. In the end, we did not choose this option because their response was slow, and we needed to find something fast. However, if you apply early, University accommodation is a really good option. Most of them include services, bills and some of them are catered!
For us, the University’s accommodation was limited, so the University also recommended searching for private accommodation through Manchester Student Homes. They provide housing and other private halls for students and that are pre-approved by the University so you have an assurance that are good places for you to stay.
If you are not satisfied with these options, you can always turn to old trusted Google and find a place!
Accommodations for couples:
When we decided to study together in the same city and university, we did not know that this was uncommon. We realized this when we were searching for accommodation. Private accommodation and student residences mostly offer options for single students. We had to search a lot and make inquiries in each residence that looked nice but, almost every time we got the same answer: only for single students.
Therefore, if you are coming with your couple or your family, my advice would be to (1) start looking early, (2) make a lot of enquiries to the accommodation you are looking for or (3) go straight for renting a private flat.
Our accommodation (so far, so good):
Since the beginning, we were looking for accommodation that included utilities and Wi-Fi in the price. This limited our search to student accommodation rather than private flats because most of them are not intended for students; therefore you have to search for utilities and internet connection by yourself.
After all the search and enquiries we found a good private hall which provided us with a cosy studio. We have our own bathroom and kitchen and we have enough space for both of us to study at the same time. It’s been 2 months and, so far, we have had a good experience. It is located in a very convenient place: 12-minute walk to the University, 7 minutes by bike, 2 supermarkets, pharmacy, pub, and a pound shop. All in the same block!
The staff are really nice and are always available and ready to help you. They offer gatherings for special days such as during Welcome Week, Halloween, Bonfire Night (Google it, it is a MAJOR thing here in the UK!), Christmas. They also receive any packages or parcels you order online. Another good thing is that you have the option to pay monthly for parking a car or you can park your bike for free in the premises.
Here are some other options I wish I’d know about when I was looking for accommodation and you might find useful:
- Solo flat: You can rent an entire apartment for your own. With this option, you have to pay your bills monthly, contract an independent provider of WiFi and you deal directly with the landlord or the owner of the apartment.
- Shared apartments: You can rent an apartment with a friend or an acquaintance. Some people arrived at Manchester without an accommodation figured out and joined with friends from their courses and rented a place together. This helps reducing costs and not being alone at nights.
- Airbnb: The people who hadn’t figured out their accommodation opted for staying at Airbnb’s while they found something. Other option is to rent a place through this platform for the entire year. However, this option can cost more and there are rarely places available for such a long time.
Overall, since we’ve arrived, we have met people from all over the world, from a lot of academic disciplines and that has made us realise that everyone is different and can do things differently. I am sure you’ll find what’s right for you!