Living off-campus has its pros and cons. Being an international student, having dreamed of pursuing a higher education in a new country and environment that I was unfamiliar with, I had to make this tricky decision about where to live. Once you’ve decided that you are going to pursue a Master’s, the obvious thing to worry about (after getting your acceptance letter from the university!) is where you will live. I imagine that, for most people, the first option that comes to mind is ‘on-campus’.
So, like most people, I applied for on-campus accommodation and waited for the decision to arrive. Alarm bells started ringing in my mind when I received a response that read “Your application was unsuccessful and you’re on the waiting list.” I looked at the waiting list – and the number was in the hundreds! I had a lot of anxiety at that point. My eyes started scanning through websites looking for off-campus accommodation availability. I know this all sounds very dramatic, but trust me, this was the exact situation I was in a year ago! So if you are an international student do not worry that you can’t get a place to stay on-campus because there are plenty of other options available. In the end, I personally felt that staying on-campus was a little bit like being in a cocoon and that might you never get to see the ‘outer world’ – especially if you’re a bit of an introvert like me! So, I soon came round to the idea of living off-campus…
If you hear from the university that on-campus accommodation is full, the first thing I would suggest you do is to keep cool, relax and start using these sites: Cranfield Student Pad and Spare Room. From my experience these two sites hold a lot of property listings with lots of details, pictures, facilities and utilities available in each advertisement. So there you go, that covers the sufficient details that you want to know about the flat or house – but before that you need to decide where off-campus you want to live! Some pretty popular places are Cranfield village, Bedford, and Milton Keynes. The question depends on how much you can afford to spend on using public transport or on renting a car or buying a bike – and also how much time you want to spend travelling to and from the university. Bedford and Milton Keynes are larger towns with more shops, cinemas, restaurants and bars and good transport links to Cranfield via the local buses but personally, I knew I couldn’t afford to spend a lot on travelling 30-45 minutes each way, and hence I picked the village. Living in the village has its own advantages, and I was fortunate enough to find a room in a house right next to the bus stop. So at the very least I knew I would never miss the bus! The village is on the other side of the airfield, and is a calm and peaceful place to enjoy a beautiful summer day and relaxing evenings. When the weather is good, I’ve enjoyed walking to and from the university and admiring the scenic beauty of the farms and grasslands – on a fine evening, it’s hard to match that!
All you have to do once you decide on where you want to stay is just keep sending emails to the landlords with all your queries. It might be a time consuming process for a while, and you might feel like you’re waiting an age for them to read your emails and reply back, but be patient. Patience is definitely a virtue during this process! If you’ve got any relatives or friends already at Cranfield then they could also have a look at the house on your behalf and help to secure a room for you. Once you’ve found a place you like, you’ll need to secure the room, and in my experience this is usually done by paying a month’s rent in advance as a deposit through a wire transfer from the bank. Get the correct account details from your landlord to transfer the money to them – you should be looking for account name, number, IBAN and IBIC number and the name and address of the bank. Some landlords ask you for your university offer letter and some ask you for the proof that you’re a student at the university. Don’t worry about this – it’s just done because normally landlords are liable to pay a tax called Council Tax (which covers all the amenities that the council provides) and they need to submit your details in order to gain exemption from that tax. This is not only the case for a renting a house from a live-in landlord but also if you choose a shared property. It’s one good reason to make sure you share with other flatmates who are also students, because working professionals have to pay this tax. But, as I’ve said, full time students don’t have to pay any of this tax – we are cool!
Now you have found a room, enquired about it and secured it through a deposit payment in advance, you’re all good to go in your new home off-campus. My advice is to relax, don’t worry about not living on-campus, just come and enjoy your stay and have a wonderful experience here at Cranfield. Exploring a new place with new people can give you a lot of experience and memories to cherish. I think it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity!