An LLM is a demanding course. With full-time UK programs generally completed in only a year, you may have to put your partying days behind you, at least for a while. And where, and with whom, you live can have a significant impact on the success of your studies.
Typically, the choice of where to live is between private rented accommodation and university-owned or managed halls, flats or houses.
It’s also a good idea to check with the National Union of Students as they are an excellent source of housing advice.
Although university-owned accommodation is often reserved for the undergraduate students, there is sometimes availability for postgraduates, particularly those willing to act as a residential tutor. University accommodation is usually warm, clean, and affordable. However be aware that there may be noise issues that could interrupt your studies and, if you are a tutor, you will have pastoral responsibilities.
Privately-owned Student-style Accommodation
A great option for LLM students is privately-owned student-style accommodation, such as that offered by Fresh Student Living. This has the freedom of a house share but with far higher quality fittings, an all-inclusive rent, high-speed broadband and a central location. It’s an attractive option to those for whom university accommodation or the private rentals' market do not quite hit the spot. In this type of accommodation you will still be surrounded by like-minded students, however you will also have the necessary peace and quiet (not to mention comfort) to help you study your LLM without distraction.
Private Sector Accommodation
This usually means renting a self-contained house or flat, either alone or with others. It can also mean renting a room in the landlord's own house. Whichever type you choose, check whether you need a guarantor to guarantee your rent for the duration of your contract.
Once you've decided on your accommodation type, there are other factors to consider if your living arrangements are to be successful.
Who to live with? You may want to rule out potentially hard-partying undergraduates, but living with friends who are no longer students in the UK means council tax implications. Student council tax exemptions are only available if all household members are full-time students.
Where to live? Proximity to course facilities may be important, as may bus routes, or easy access to late-night supermarkets and takeaways. Requirements differ according to personal preference and needs; identify yours.
Is the accommodation fire-safe? Your flat or house ought to have working smoke alarms correctly sited. Fire blankets and extinguishers are also sensible; university accommodation should have them. If necessary you can buy your own, but check your purchases carry the British Standard Kitemark.
What about TV licences? Falling foul of the TV licensing laws may result in a criminal conviction. Note that the law relating to TV licences has changed: as well as needing a licence to watch or record live television on any device, you also need one to access or watch BBC iPlayer.
Household chores and kitty? If you’re sharing accommodation with others, it makes sense to decide on responsibilities for household chores. A cleaner may be beyond the student budget, but a rota for cleaning common areas, such as kitchen and bathrooms, can make communal living much more pleasant. Similarly, you may want to agree some form of kitty for buying items such as cleaning products, toilet paper and milk.
A little time spent considering these questions should help ensure your LLM course is a happy and successful one.