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How to make the most of London as an international student

Are you an international student coming to London to study for a few months or even longer? If so, this is the guide for you.

Preparing to move to London

Whether you’re coming to London to study English or as part of your degree, this article covers everything you need to make sure your time living in the UK’s capital city is as memorable and as valuable as possible.



When it comes to settling into London life, preparation is key. London is a gigantic city, and although there are lots of resources and organisations available to help you with your move, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

That’s why in advance of arriving in the city, it’s vital you have as much organised as possible. This means making sure you sure have the following prepared:

  • Your accommodation
  • Your money for the duration of the stay
  • Your required visa paperwork, if needed
  • Your visa, if you require one 
  • Your university paperwork/language school paperwork (this will often include things like your enrolment documents)
  • Your university or language school fees paid (or have a payment schedule agreed)

Extra preparation tips

In addition to the above must-dos, it’s also a good idea to consider the following preparation tips:

  • Connect with other international students via Facebook groups/meet up groups so you’ll be welcomed by some familiar faces when you arrive. This way you’ll feel less lonely in your first few weeks.
  • Check out the neighbourhood you’ll be living in and plan some fun things to do for when you arrive. This way you’ll already have some things to look forward to, even if you’re feeling nervous.
  • If you’re feeling really stressed about moving, contact your language school or university and ask if there’s anyone who can help you with the logistics of your move. 

Just remember, the more you have prepared, the better position you’ll be in to start enjoying yourself as soon as you land.

london skyline busy city
London Skyline

Finding short term accommodation in London

As a general rule, rental contracts in London tend to last between 6 months and a year. This can make finding shorter term accommodation slightly more difficult.

But don’t panic. There are a good variety of accommodation options ideal for international students looking to stay in London on a short-term basis. Likewise, these are far more affordable than you might think.

Short term rentals for international students

Short term apartments are the most common option for people spending between one and sox months in London. They provide all the flexibility of having your own place to stay without the need to commit to a long rental agreement. Additionally, on a longer-term basis they’re often far more cost effective than London’s hotels and Airbnbs.

At Stay Central, we offer affordable apartment accommodation right in the heart of London. Our self-catering apartments offer students the unique opportunity to live in the cultural district of Bloomsbury in central London. This colourful and charming neighbourhood offers students a vibrant nightlife, excellent transport links and is renowned for being the academic corner of the capital city. 

For students studying in London for few weeks up to a few months, these short-term apartments are an ideal city centre base from where you can explore the city. Find out about our affordable city centre accommodation here.

Self-catered accommodation

Find out more about our affordable self-catered accommodation, located in the heart of Bloomsbury.

Self-Catered Apartments

Bank accounts and money management for short term stays

If you’re planning to stay in London for up to a year, opening a UK bank account is really important. There are lots of bank account options for international students, and this article from study international offers a great break down of all options available to you.

However, if you’re going to be spending a shorter period studying in the UK, there are alternatives to a standard bank account.

For example, Revolut is a phone application that offers an easy way to transfer money between your home currency and the British pound. It comes with a bank card that lets you spend commission free between the currencies you choose, so you’ll never pay more than the exchange rate at any given moment. You’ll also get your own bank account within the app which will allow you to send and accept money to and from other people and companies. 

Budgeting for London life

It’s no secret that London isn’t the cheapest city on the planet. However, it’s still possible to live here on a budget and really enjoy yourself. 

But first things first: Whether you’re dealing with a big or small budget, it’s crucial to stay on top of your money while living in London. How you manage your money will make a huge difference to your London experience.

So, organise your budget in advance of your stay. This will help make sure you have enough money to cover all your expenses and enjoy London without worrying about your finances. 

Make sure you:

  • Split your total budget between the total number of months you’ll be staying in London.
  • Split this monthly budget into different areas such as rent, gym, groceries, socialising etc.
  • Keep a small amount of money aside for emergencies.

Meeting friends and going out 

Living abroad can be one of the most rewarding experience of your life. You’ll be exploring new cultures, eating new food and meeting new people from all over the world – and it really is a lot of fun!

However, it’s also easy to feel overwhelmed when you first arrive and making new friends can be really daunting. But don’t worry – just remember that everyone on your course will be feeling nervous too, and that by keeping yourself slightly outside of your comfort zone, you’ll make loads of friends in no time.

To get you started, we’ve put together these top nine tips to help you make friends in London. 

Friends in a cafe london
Friends in a London Cafe

Top eight tips to make friends in London

 

1.   Keep an open mind and don’t judge anyone for their lifestyle.

2.  Use apps and online networks to meet people. (Facebook groups, Meetup.com, citysocializer).

3.  Join exercise and fitness groups in local parks and gyms.

4.  Volunteer! Local charity shops, care homes or animal rescue homes are some great options. You can find a selection of volunteer opportunities in London here.

5.  Join clubs and societies related to your hobbies.

6.  Don’t let yourself watch Netflix/HBO/Prime – it’s a waste of time!

7.  Host dinner clubs with new friends! This a cheaper way to socialise without paying for restaurants.

8.  And most importantly: Keep showing up - even if it’s uncomfortable! Living abroad can make you feel incredibly vulnerable at times, but if you’re able to keep saying yes and keep connecting with new people – your experience will be much richer. And we promise you’ll go back home feeling confident, happy and with a huge collection of treasured memories.

Stay Central for international students

At Stay Central, we want to make your time in London unforgettable. We understand that a having a safe place to call home is crucial to helping you feel settled in a new city, especially when you’re so far from friends and family. 

That’s where we can help. When it comes to location, quality and affordability, our apartment accommodation in Bloomsbury is unbeatable. So, get in touch with our friendly team today and find out about more about our London apartments today.

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