If you’re going for an exchange semester, one of the most important things you’ll have to plan is housing. Student Mundial helps students to find housing when traveling away from home to study. It can often be a difficult task to search for accommodation, especially when you aren’t familiar with the new city yet. Let’s go through all the ins and outs of finding the perfect flat for your study abroad through Student Mundial!
Decision point: living on or off campus
Whether you should live on or off campus is the first decision you must take. If you’re going on a bilateral student exchange arranged through your home university, check if the host university offers accommodation. If they can’t help you, you will have to find a place on your own, giving you freedom to choose where you want to live and with whom.
By renting a place together with friends or your future classmates, you can avoid nightmare roommates. I guess we’ve all had a horrible match at some point. You can choose any location you want, whether you’re looking for a trendy hipster area or if you’re searching for a more upscale and quiet neighbourhood, it’s all up to your taste and budget.
Getting started on your flat hunt
The first thing to do is researching the different neighborhoods of the city. Take a look at our city pages, buy a city guide or borrow one from your college library, or take a look at WikiTravel’s neighbourhood guides (they’re free and pretty good too actually).
Estimate a budget to determine how much you can afford for housing. Transportation should also be factored in: even if you go for cheaper accommodation, overall it might cost you more if you must buy a bus pass instead of walking to school, or if you must cab it home after late nights out.
Next, start looking at apartments available in your new home town on Student Mundial. Go to our start page and search straight from there. Enter your city, select your dates and search (notice for non-UK students: First semester is the fall, Second semester is the spring – confusing for a Swede like me!). On the results page you get a clear overview of where all the flats are located and a short description of each place. Select the one that interests you and take a look at its features.
If you have any questions that aren’t answered in the ad, you can always contact the landlord directly through our site. You can also contact any other tenants that are currently living in the flat, or chat with other prospective flatmates. Housing isn’t just about the location – the people can also make it or break it, so be friendly and respectful to others and look for others who show those qualities too.
You can choose to book the place directly through our platform, which is recommended if you’re searching during peak seasons since good places aren’t vacant for long. Don’t worry though, you have a 7 day cancellation policy and the landlord must still confirm your request. Once the request is approved, your first month’s rent is paid through a secured payment system (the kind used to secure bank transfers) and we escrow it until you’ve actually seen the place and got the keys. That way you can rest assured that you won’t be ripped off – say goodbye to housing frauds!
If you on the other hand want to wait until arrival, schedule viewings with the landlord in advance of your arrival week. During your first week, we advise you to sleep at a friend’s place if you know any locals in the city, or otherwise take in at a hostel to meet other travellers. Try searching on Hostelworld or Priceline for cheap and good alternatives. That way, you won’t feel lonely if you don’t know anyone in your new city, and you get plenty of time to explore the city and pick the area that best suits your preferences. Ask the hostel receptionist for any advice when it comes to neighborhoods and housing. After all, the locals usually know their city much better than any guidebook.
When going on viewings, see if there’s a smoke detector and ideally a fire extinguisher. Ensure that there’s no visible signs of mold or any musty smell, especially in the kitchen or bathroom. If you’ll live on the ground floor, make sure that the front door is equipped with a sturdy lock.
Once deciding for a place, it’s time to sign the contract. If you’re renting in the UK, feel free to use our British rental contract, which we’ll provide you when you book your apartment through us. Decide which language to have the contact in but make sure it’s one that both of you understand. Write the contract as detailed as possible (for example the duration, rent, deposit amount etc). It’s very important to have a written contract since it’s the only evidence that will hold up if there are any issues – better safe than sorry!
No booking fees, no frauds, and other perks
Student Mundial is totally free for you to use as a student, there are no hidden or additional fees. No membership or booking fees at all. Save your cash for stuff like beer or fun events instead!
With Student Mundial you can always feel calm and don’t have to worry about frauds. With the help of reviews written by other verified students you get an element of trust. When booking, you must only pay the first month’s rent, which we escrow until your arrival. Once you’ve confirmed that the apartment is OK, we transfer the money to the landlord and you can move in. That way you can just relax and enjoy your new hometown!
With us you also get the chance to check out your future roommates, see if you have interests in common and ask any questions you’ve got about the landlord or apartment. You can also hold a room for your friends if they’ll be staying in the same flat, that way it’s easier for you to hunt for apartments as a team.
Time to move in!
Once everything is set, you’re ready to find your dream accommodation in your new home town. If you have any questions or additional useful advice, please share it in the comments below!