5 alternative housing options for UK students who are kicked out of halls or can’t go home

If your university has decided to close its halls of residence or you can’t go for fear of infecting your parents during this COVID-19 pandemic – don’t panic.

In the UK, there are many different housing routes you can take before frantically repacking your suitcase and saying goodbye to your beloved flatmates.

1. Check with your university

The first place you should check with is your university, as they may be making exceptions for international students. 

For instance, the University of Bristol in the UK is directing international students to an online form where they can fill out their current living arrangements and get feedback from student advisors about relocation possibilities. 

alternative housing

A pedestrian walks past an NHS 111 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pod, for people who believe they may be suffering from the virus, to attend and speak to doctors outside University College Hospital in London on March 13, 2020. With many university halls closing, students are in search of alternative housing. Source: Isabel Infantes/AFP

So before you book a hotel or stay on a friend’s sofa, check to see if your university has set up alternative housing for international students or if the advisors know of any useful contacts.

2. Reach out to friends

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so reach out to your university friends to see if anyone has a spare room or sofa in their house that you can stay in until your halls are open again.

You can also check UK student forums such as The Student Room to see if anyone else is in the same boat or if there are good samaritans willing to take you in.

If you’re lucky, a friendly student or landlord may have a room to let nearby without a fixed term tenancy.

3. Rearrange your homeshare

If you’re currently in a Share & Care accommodation scheme in the UK, it’s likely you’re living with an elderly landlord who is at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

Therefore, speak to your Share & Care advisors about staying with fellow young home sharers who have to move out of their living arrangement too.

alternative housing

An elderly man walks along the Shambles street, which is unusually devoid of shoppers, amidst the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, in the centre of York, northern England on March 19, 2020. Source: Oli Scarff/AFP

It may be possible to club together and move into alternative housing temporarily – like AirBnB if money isn’t an issue or Couchsurfing if you’re on a budget – so that you’re not putting the elderly homeowners at risk.

4. Fly home

If you have a spacious living arrangement where social distancing is possible, then flying back to your home country is also a feasible choice to make. 

But before you head back, first check that flights back home are up and running.

alternative housing

A man wears a face mask as he stands near an electronic arrivals board at Terminal 4 of London Heathrow Airport in west London on January 28, 2020. Source: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP

And secondly, make sure to quarantine yourself for 14 days as you could be an asymptomatic COVID-19 vector who could possibly infect your loved ones.

5. Go to your nearest embassy

If you don’t have the funds to fly back home, and your university has not provided alternative housing, then travel to your nearest embassy to see if they offer any help for international students who are stuck in the UK.

alternative housing

AirBnB may be a good alternative housing for stranded international students as it is offering guests the option to get refunds if their bookings have to be cancelled due to the coronavirus-related travel restrictions. Source: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

Many governments are making efforts to bring their citizens home – find out about these missions. They may also have short-term alternative housing options in the UK or help you get a fully-funded flight back home when one is available.

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