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The Beginners Guide to London Student Living

Thinking about studying in one of the most vibrant and historic cities in the world? Exciting, right? London is an amazing place to live, and as a university student, you'll have access to some of the best museums, sights, and experiences that the city has to offer.

But it's not all tea and crumpets: there are a few things you should know before making the move. This beginner's guide to London student living will tell you everything you need to know about living in London as a university student, from finding student accommodation in London to getting around town. So let's get started.

Or, as we say in London, let’s get cracking then, shall we?

The Different Areas of London

London Student Living - Areas of London

London is a huge city with so much to offer, but it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where everything is when you first move. London is one of the biggest cities in the world, with over 30 different boroughs, each area with its own distinct feel. Learning about the different areas is a great way to get to know the city, and it will hopefully stop you from getting lost.

Here’s a quick guide to the different areas of London:

Central London

Most of the city's most popular attractions are located here, including Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. It’s also where most of London’s big universities are located, including King’s College London and Imperial College London.

You can also enjoy some of the best shopping in London, with high-end stores on Oxford Street and Regent Street. If you're looking for something a bit more low-key, St. James's Park is a great place to relax or go for a walk.

North London

North London is known for its “cool and trendy” vibes. This is the London borough for hipsters and young professionals. In North London, you'll find some world-famous tourist attractions like Camden Market and Kings Cross station (made famous by Harry Potter). You can also explore quirky neighbourhoods like Hampstead and Islington.

South London

In contrast to North London's cool persona, South London is where you'll find the city's more traditionally British side, but there are plenty of cool things to do and see as well. This area is known for its lively markets, traditional pubs, and friendly locals. If you want to experience a more traditional idea of what London is like, South London is the place to be. Notable neighbourhoods in South London include Brixton, Peckham and Greenwich – where you can stand on Greenwich Meantime itself.

East London

East London has undergone a major transformation in recent years and is now one of the most popular areas in the city. Once an area known for its warehouses and industrial sites, East London is now home to some of the best nightlife in the city. You'll find plenty of bars, craft breweries, clubs, and music venues in neighbourhoods like Dalston and Shoreditch.

West London

West London is where you'll find some of the city's wealthiest residents. This area is home to iconic landmarks like Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park. If you're looking to do some high-end shopping or take in a show on Broadway, West End is the place to be. Notable neighbourhoods in West London include Notting Hill and Mayfair.

Universities in London

London Student Living - London Universities

With a history of academic excellence and a diverse range of institutions, it's no surprise that London is a top destination for university study. The city offers something for every student from internationally renowned institutions like the London School of Economics and Imperial College London to smaller schools with niche specialities like the Royal College of Music and the Chelsea College of Art and Design.

And with iconic landmarks, vibrant culture, and endless opportunities for internships and networking, London is an unbeatable setting for personal growth and academic success. No matter your interests or goals, a university in London is waiting to help you achieve them.

If you’ve got your heart set on studying in the UK’s capital, here are just some of the universities in London:

Finding Student Accommodation in London

London Student Living - Student Accommodation

If you’re thinking about studying in bustling London, congratulations! You've chosen a stunning and vibrant city with endless opportunities. But before you begin your adventure, there's one thing you'll need to figure out: finding the perfect student accommodation in London.

Don't worry, it may seem overwhelming at first, but with a bit of planning and research, you can secure the perfect place to call home during your studies.

There are three main accommodation options available to students in London:

University halls of residence

Many universities offer halls of residence as an option for student housing. These accommodations range from traditional dormitory-style rooms with shared bathrooms and common areas to fully self-contained flats with private kitchens and bathrooms.

Living in halls is a great way to meet fellow students, be part of a community, and have the convenience of being on campus or nearby. However, it’s essential to consider the potential downsides, such as noisy flatmates and limited personal space.

Read our breakdown of the differences between university and private student accommodation. 

Private student accommodation

Private student accommodation offers a great living experience in the city, with all the amenities and privacy you need to make your time at university successful and enjoyable.

These flats typically include a kitchen, living area, and separate bedroom, giving you the independence to come and go as you please without having to navigate shared spaces with flatmates. Most private student accommodation offer all-inclusive costs, so you won’t need to worry about paying your bills and rent separately.

Shared private housing

When searching for housing in London, many international students find shared private housing a popular and affordable option. These properties are typically owned by an individual or company and rented out to multiple tenants who share common areas such as the kitchen and living room.

One significant advantage of shared private housing is the opportunity to live with a diverse group of individuals, often from different countries and backgrounds. On the downside, finding good shared private housing can be difficult when you first move to London as a first-year student. Plus, it may not offer as much privacy as other options, and there are usually extra fees for utilities or WiFi on top of the rent.

Check out our guide for finding affordable student accommodation in London. 

Budgeting as a Student in London

London Student Living - Student Budgeting

London can be expensive if you’re living on a student budget. In fact, London is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Between living costs, tuition, textbooks, and socialising, it's easy to let your spending get out of control. But let that put you off choosing to study in London — we're here to help.

Here are some of the best ways cut down on spending as a student in London. (After all, there's no need to break the bank just to have a good time.)

Get a Part-Time Job

This is a great way to top up your income and take some of the financial pressure off. You can search for part-time jobs on websites like Indeed. Make sure you factor in the time commitment when considering whether or not to take a job – you don’t want your studies to suffer.

(We’ll dive into finding a student job a bit later)

Apply for Scholarships and Bursaries

There are loads of different scholarships and bursaries available, so it’s worth researching to see if you’re eligible for any. This extra money can make a big difference when you’re trying to stretch your budget further.

Cut Down on Nights Out (or find cheap ones)

We know this one isn’t going to be popular. But if you’re trying to save money, cutting back on nights out is a good way to do it. Instead of going out every weekend, why not have a few nights in with friends instead? You can still have fun without spending a lot of money. If you’re eager to get out and explore London’s nightlife, scout out cheaper areas and places that offer discounts. And if the call of the dancefloor is just too strong, avoid going out on Fridays and Saturdays and embrace the array of student (AKA cheaper) nights around the city.

Shop Around for Deals

When buying things like groceries, clothes or electronics, compare prices and look for any deals or student discounts available. Many price comparison websites can help with this – just remember you don’t need to buy something because there’s a discount.

Make a Budget

This might seem like an obvious one, but it’s important. Sit down and work out exactly how much money you have coming in each month, and then give yourself a realistic allowance for things like food, travel and entertainment. Once you know how much you have to spend, it becomes much easier to stick to your budget.

Read our guide to budgeting as a student in London. 

Getting Around London as a Student

London Student Living - Getting Around

London is a massive city. There's so much to see and do, which is amazing, but it can also be a bit overwhelming. Getting around London doesn't have to be difficult, though. With a little planning and some insider tips, you'll be getting around like a local in no time.

Here are four of the best ways to get around the city:

1. The Tube

The Tube is London's underground rail system. It's fast, efficient, and relatively inexpensive. If you're staying in central London, the Tube will probably be your best bet for getting around. Just make sure to get a student Oyster Card before you start using the system to make the most of discounts.

Insider tip: If you’re using the Tube a lot, download a Tube map app – it will give you the quickest ways to get around the city.

2. Buses

Buses in London are red, double-decker, and iconic. Taking the bus is a great way to see the city while getting from A to B. If you're going to take the bus regularly during your stay, we recommend getting a bus pass with your Oyster Card to cut costs.

Insider tip: If you’re using a student Oyster, your bus fare will be limited to around £5 a day – after that, you can basically ride around for free.

3. Walking

Walking is one of the best ways to get around any city, and London is no exception. Walking allows you to really take in your surroundings and explore all the nooks and crannies that you might miss if you were just zipping by on the Tube or a bus. Plus, it's free.

Insider Tip: When walking around London (or anywhere else), it's important to be aware of your surroundings and be cautious of pickpockets—but other than that, enjoy exploring at your own pace.

4. Taxis/Rideshare Services

Taxis and rideshare services like Uber are always an option when getting around London (or any city). They're usually more expensive than other modes of transportation, but they can be convenient if you need to get somewhere quickly or if you're carrying a lot of luggage.

Insider tip: Be sure to agree on a price with your driver before getting in the car, as taxi prices can be pricey in London.

Read our guide to saving money while living in London as a student

Finding a Student Job in London

London Student Living - Finding a Student Job

One of the best ways to keep on top of your finances while living as a student in London is to get a part-time job. But looking for a job in a new city as a student can seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be.

London offers loads of opportunities for students of all interests, whether you're seeking retail experience, an internship, or something completely unique.

Here are a few ways to start your search:

Check Out Local Businesses

One of the best ways to find work in London is to simply walk around and ask local businesses if they're hiring. You might be surprised at how many places are looking for extra help, especially during the busy months.

If you don’t want to approach businesses directly, you can do it online. Explore the local area’s companies on Google and then check their social media pages to see if they’ve got any vacancies. Even if a business isn't hiring at the moment, they might be able to point you in the right direction. So don't be afraid to ask around.

Use Social Media

Alongside using job sites like Indeed, another great way to find work in London is to use social media to your advantage. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date, and start networking with people in your field. You can also follow companies you're interested in and see if they post any job openings on their page. Who knows? You might just land your dream job.

Attend Job Fairs

If you're really serious about finding work in London, one of the best things you can do is attend local job fairs. This is a great way to meet potential employers and learn about different opportunities that might be available to you. Plus, it's always good to have your CV handy, just in case.

Keep an Eye Out for Opportunities at University

Higher education offers many personal and professional growth opportunities, including exploring potential career paths. One great way to do this is by keeping an eye out for job opportunities at your university.

Most universities have job boards with local job vacancies and sometimes even jobs at the university itself. Not only is it convenient to work on campus, but the experiences gained can be a valuable addition to your CV.

Finding a student job in London is easier than you think. Just remember to keep an open mind, utilise your resources, and don't be afraid to put yourself out there. With a little hard work and determination, you'll be on your way to landing that perfect part-time gig in no time.

Things to Do in London as a Student

London Student Living - Things to Do in London

Now we get to the fun part of the guide and undoubtedly the part of living in London that you’re most excited about – exploring the city.

When it comes to exploring London, the options are truly endless. From iconic landmarks like Big Ben and the Tower of London to lesser-known gems such as Hampstead Heath and Box Park in Shoreditch, there are activities and attractions to suit every interest.

And let's not forget the incredible array of restaurants, shops, theatre shows, and festivals scattered throughout the city. Whether you want to spend your day strolling through picturesque neighbourhoods or immersing yourself in history and culture at a museum, London has it all.

You’ve probably already got a bucket list of places to visit, but if you’re looking for inspiration, we’ve put together a quick guide to the essential things you should do while living in London as a student:

Arts and Culture in London

Art and Culture in London

London is a global cultural hub, with countless museums, music venues, theatres, and galleries to explore. Whether you're interested in classical artwork at the National Gallery or cutting-edge contemporary exhibitions at the Tate Modern, there's something for everyone.

The city's diverse music scene ranges from Royal Opera House performances to street buskers on every corner. And the West End theatre district boasts some of the most popular and acclaimed shows on the planet. London's arts and culture scenes are bustling and constantly evolving, offering endless opportunities for discovery and inspiration.

Food and Drink in London

London Student Living - London Food and Drink

London is a culinary paradise, offering dishes from all over the world. With so many options, it can be overwhelming to decide where to dine. But never fear – some neighbourhoods and markets should definitely be on your radar. In Camden Town, the street food offerings are diverse and delicious, with everything from traditional fish and chips to Jamaican jerk chicken.

And if you're looking for a truly British experience, head to Borough Market for fresh produce and unique food vendors serving up mouthwatering treats. When it comes to drinks, London's famous pubs offer a wide selection of local beers and ciders. But for craft cocktails, check out the speakeasy-style bars hidden in inconspicuous locations throughout the city.

Sights to See in London

London Student Living - Sightseeing

There’s no shortage of fascinating attractions and sites to explore in London. From the historic Tower of London to the bustling Camden Market, every corner of this vibrant city has something unique to offer.

One can't-miss stop is the famous Buckingham Palace, where visitors can witness the changing of the guard ceremony or take a tour inside a royal residence. The majestic St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey are must-sees for architecture and history lovers alike.

Plus, there are loads of green spaces in London, including Hyde Park, Green Park and Hampstead Heath.

Find Private Student Accommodation in London

So there you have it – everything you need to know about living in London as a university student. From choosing a university and finding a student job to sightseeing, activities and getting around the city, this guide has everything covered.

But before you can start exploring the city as a student, you’ll need somewhere to live.

At StudentStudios2Let, we have a range of fully-furnished student studio flats that are perfect for all students. We do everything we can to make renting as easy as possible whether you’re a total newcomer or an honourary Londoner. Explore our range of private student studio flats today, or get in touch if you need any extra information or advice on our accommodation options.