You will need to find your accommodation abroad yourself, but there are several resources that can help you.
The Study Abroad office can't directly help you find accommodation and isn't able to monitor the housing situation in each of our many international destinations. You are responsible for all your accommodation arrangements and costs, as explained in the Study abroad agreement.
We recommend the following to help you find somewhere to live abroad:
HOST UNIVERSITY ACCOMMODATION
There may be chance to apply for university-owned accommodation at your host university, such as a room in university residences. The host universitys website can normally tell you what's on offer. Make sure you start with the 'exchange students' section of the website, as application deadlines and availability may be different to those for home students. Keep track of any housing deadlines you need to meet, which may be different to the application deadline from the Study Abroad office. However, if you want to hand in a housing application to the Study Abroad office at the same time as your formal application, we will post the two together for you.
Be aware that residence halls in another country may be very different to what you are used to at Leeds. For example, you may find that you are allocated one or more roommates, that residence halls are single-sex, or that the overall standard of accommodation is more basic than you are used to.
HOST UNIVERSITY HOUSING ADVICE ON PRIVATE ACCOMMODATION
Most host universities will be able to provide you with some guidance on private housing in the area, but their levels of assistance will vary. For example, some may provide you with a list of local hostels, others may give general advice on the local housing market, while others still may be able to provide more practical help in house hunting (although this is rare).
You should also be able to find information on any services the host university provides on their website look for the accommodation or housing office. There may also be information on the webpages for exchange students or the general international student pages. Once you have been selected by Leeds for an exchange, you're welcome to contact your host university for advice if you cannot find the information online.
STUDY ABROAD FEEDBACK FORMS
Each student who studies abroad is asked to complete a mid-year feedback questionnaire, which includes information about where they are living and how they found their accommodation. This is a good first point of reference, particularly if you are trying to decide whether to live in university or private accommodation. Students are also asked to give details about which area of the town/city or which student residence hall they are living in, so you can also pick up tips about which areas are good for student housing.
Hard copies of feedback forms dating back several years are kept in the Study Abroad Office. You can also find several years of feedback in the study abroad 'organisation' on the VLE, under the Partner university information library section.
PAST AND PRESENT OUTGOING STUDY ABROAD STUDENTS
Students who are either currently living in your future destination or who spent the previous year at your host university are one of your best sources of information about housing. They will be able to tell you what their accommodation was like, which parts of the city you should live in, how long it takes to find a room in that city, and so on. We strongly recommend you get in touch with current or past study abroad students with your questions, as they are usually very happy to talk for hours about their year abroad!
You will be able to contact any past study abroad student who has submitted a feedback form, as we ask them to supply a contact email address if they are willing to help future students. You will also be given opportunities to meet past study abroad students at networking and social events throughout the year.
CURRENT INCOMING EXCHANGE STUDENTS
We can also put you in touch with students currently at Leeds who are from your future host university.
These students will be in a great position to help you out if you are looking for private accommodation or are debating whether to apply for university accommodation, as they will have recent first-hand knowledge of your destination. They will also most likely have returned to their home university when you begin your year abroad and may be willing to provide further help at that point.
GENERAL HOUSE-HUNTING TIPS FOR THE PRIVATE SECTOR
- Do lots of research to get a feel for what the housing market is like at your destination. In some places, such as Copenhagen, Paris, Singapore and Hong Kong, private housing is in relatively short supply and can be very expensive. In other destination cities, private accommodation will be cheaper and easier to come by than a place in university-owned accommodation.
- Dont be shy when it comes to asking your host university and other students for help. They are your best sources of information about your destination.
- We recommend that you book yourself into a reputable hostel or hotel for the first week and spend that week house-hunting in person. This may mean you need to arrive at your destination at least a week or two earlier than orientation.
- While housing scams and fraud are relatively rare, you should be wary of anything that you find online and always arrange a viewing first. We would strongly advise against signing any kind of contract or paying a deposit for a room or flat before you have seen it and met the landlord in person.
- House-hunting may be more difficult at weekends as landlords and agencies may not be available for viewings. Be aware of public holidays in your host city, as agencies may be shut.
- Always check your contract carefully, particularly if it is in another language. Don't allow yourself to be rushed or pressured into signing something you havent read. Also check the dates carefully you may prefer to sign a semester-long contract, and then renew it for the second semester to give yourself more flexibility. If your host university offers a contract-checking service (like Unipol does), take advantage of it.
- Even though Unipol is a Leeds-based housing organisation, some of the general advice on their website (such as the Viewing properties and Contracts sections) can be applied to most housing markets.