For most international students, and even home students, finding accommodation in Manchester ahead of your master’s course can be daunting. While the University of Manchester does provide accommodation, many will prefer to rent privately. Thomas Humphrey, MSc Business Analysis and Strategic Management, class of 2019, wrote about his experience organising a place to live.
While I was excited for my course, I did not know what to expect for the practical realities of moving abroad. I had never been to Manchester, but my wife and I were seeking private accommodation and to move in quickly at the start of the term. For me, the scene was set for quite a bit of learning in a short amount of time.
Here are some things I think are useful to know if you are an overseas student seeking private accommodation in Manchester.
- Introduction week is a good way to be brought up to speed on what to expect from your course and a good opportunity to meet your classmates. While we didn’t cover any formally assessed coursework, it was a good opportunity to feel comfortable with my course and offerings at the university before starting classes.
- In private accommodation, you may have to pay for gas, electricity, water, and internet. There are numerous gas and electricity providers, and you can shop around to find the best deals. The same goes for internet providers. Some landlords may offer a ‘bills included’ room, but you often end up paying more this way than if you organise utility bills yourselves.
- It can take three weeks to have internet installed. This is fairly common across each provider, but expect it to take three weeks from signing the contract to start of service.
- If you have private accommodation, depending on your circumstances, you may not have to pay council tax. Council tax is a mandatory charge by the city and covers road maintenance, garbage collection, and similar services. But, if you are a student, you may be exempt from paying council tax or at least pay a reduced rate. Students living in halls will not have to apply for a council tax exemption, you’re automatically exempt.
- You may have to pay a fee to a letting agent when signing up for private accommodation. The letting fee is in addition to a security deposit and first month’s rent. I personally used Manchester Student Homes contract checking and recommendation services to make sure I knew what to expect. I also recommend having a significant amount of cash available for fees and to cover expenses for the first few weeks.
- For most international students, it may take some effort to open a UK bank account. For me, banks needed proof I was living in the UK, which meant I needed a utility bill with my name on it. In order to get a utility bill, one needs to have accommodation. Therefore, the process took a little time.
Fortunately, an offer of residence in University accommodation is guaranteed to all overseas (ie non-EU) postgraduate students for the duration of their studies, provided you:
- are coming to University alone
- have firmly accepted a place at the University by 31 August of the year of entry
- have submitted an application for accommodation by 31 August of the year of entry
- are applying for accommodation for a full academic session (ie. September to June or September to September)
- reapply for accommodation in subsequent years by the advertised due deadline (usually February)
The Accommodation Office can also help international students with families in their hunt for accommodation.