Be advised: This is just for King’s, and it is their first year doing it this way, so some things may change by 2017.
The housing application is the first real interaction I’ve had with King’s in the mindset that I’ll be there. In September. But before we get into the actual application process, let’s talk about on campus vs. private housing.
I made the choice to use on campus accommodations because:
- I honestly can’t imagine finding a place with cheaper rent anywhere near the Strand
- If I have problems, my landlord has a stronger-than-usual obligation to me
- I am prioritized for housing at King’s because of my status as an international postgraduate student
- It’s fairly near campus
- I don’t need someone to cosign or serve as an agent for me, although King’s has a service where they will cosign with international students for a percentage of their rent
- My lease with King’s lasts exactly as long as I am sure about where I am going to live
- I obviously can’t tour any flats before I sign a lease, and I feel much more comfortable moving into school housing sight unseen than I do some rando’s flat for lease – I have at least been able to do a decent amount of exploration on the housing web pages
The Actual Housing Process
Step One: Accept Your Offer
You can’t really do anything until you’ve done this part. In my case, this step also involved paying my deposit. It appears from some correspondence I’ve gotten that you don’t receive your housing email until you’ve paid a deposit, but this could also be school- or program-specific, or just outdated.
Step Two: Wait
I accepted my offer in early January. And then… nothing happened. Mostly because, in January, everything at King’s is still geared towards the process of starting the term then and there, not the term that will begin in September, even to a larger extent than I am accustomed to at American universities.
Step Two B: Email people at King’s with questions way more often than they want to hear from you.
Step Three: The Email
I received an email April 4th from KCL Accommodations with what I’m sure they thought were fool-proof instructions for logging in. They linked to the accommodations portal and told me what my login credentials were. Unfortunately for me, I can’t log in. Of course, they have anticipated this, and the rejection screen contains a redirect to email the accommodations team if you have trouble gaining access to the portal. It would happen to me.
Once I finally managed to get in (a simple reset of the form on their end did the trick), the process was very simple. I checked a few characteristics that I was looking for, indicated my interest in an orientation week, and submitted. A note of caution: once I submitted, I couldn’t access the portal again, so all the helpful information within the portal (dates, etc.) was no longer accessible to me. I would write this stuff down, if you’re worried. I wish I had, for reference purposes.
The plan is that after the housing portal’s open period ends, they begin to sort people into actual housing assignments based on what we indicated as being important on our application. Sometime in mid- to late June, my housing assignment will appear in my inbox. I then have five days to accept or decline. If someone were to miss the portal’s open period, they have a wait list of sorts that you can be added to, which fills out the remaining slots for housing in August, mostly.
Step Four: Wait. Again.
Now I wait until this summer.
Also, I wait because I need to know if they can accommodate my early arrival; planes were filling up fast and I bought my ticket a couple of weeks before the housing portal opened, foolishly believing the “two week early” move-in figure I had seen on the site. I have now come to believe that it was inaccurate, unclear and therefore misunderstood, or my math was faulty. Reality probably looks like some mixture of the three.
Step Five: Receive and Accept Your Offer
In late June, I received my offer – actually, a day earlier than I had been told to anticipate it. You are not placed in order of your registration in the housing portal, so I’m not entirely sure why I was so near the top of the offer list, but I’ll take it. After thoroughly reading everything, I accepted. You view and sign your contract and the housing policy online in the portal. I did email them because the dates displayed on my contract did not include early move-in for international orientation, but they corrected it quickly. They also said that even if it wasn’t displayed, it was reflected in their system, but I must admit to a lack of confidence in that. I wanted to see it.
I’ll be living in Angel Lane in an ensuite room. This means I’ll have my own bedroom and attached bathroom, but share a kitchen and general living space with the other people in my apartment, which is co-ed. (How progressive!)
Unfortunately, the FAQ says that I won’t know who I am living with until I arrive to move in. I would have liked to be able to coordinate with them about what to bring to stock the kitchen, but it’s not the worst thing to ever happen. I’m already starting to dread paring things down.
I had sort of known this was where I’d be placed. On their accommodations FAQ, King’s provides a flow chart of sorts that can tell you which handful of housing options you’re most likely to be assigned based on what preferences you ticked. Because I opted for a price under their £189/week threshold and also for an ensuite, more or less the only place I could live was Angel Lane. I’m less than 20 minutes by Tube from both campuses where my classes are held, and I’m next door to another King’s housing unit. On a map of KCL housing, we do look sort of far away and isolated, but I’m not really bothered by it. It’ll give me the option of experiencing a different part of London.
They did let me down on one front, however – they won’t let me move in four days early.
Optional Step 6: Book an airbnb
Since I generally enjoy having a place to store my baggage, lay my head at night, and shower, I have decided to get an airbnb for the four nights between my flight landing and my move-in date. I initially considered two other options: a hostel and King’s summer accommodations. I rejected the hostel idea because, while very inexpensive, I didn’t love the idea of sharing a room with a bunch of youth and lugging around big bags, or storing my luggage someplace I couldn’t immediately access it, especially if they were going to surprise me with a fee for it. King’s uses their housing in the summer a bit like a hotel, and so I could have rented a room for four nights for £40 a night, but that’s more expensive than an airbnb would be. Besides that, something in me rebelled at moving into another KCL housing unit before I moved into mine. I’m a bit weird like that.
As a result, I made my first foray into booking an airbnb. I actually had to make three attempts at booking, once I settled on a place I wanted to stay. As a very basic explanation, airbnb operates by letting you send a request to book, which the host has the option of accepting or declining within 24 hours – your card is not charged until they accept. Two of the places I wanted to stay were booked or otherwise became unavailable between my request for the booking and the response from the host. However, the third time was the charm and I landed in a nice flat in Zone 1 for four nights.
The verification process I as a guest had to go through makes me feel pretty positive about the safety of staying with these people. I did try to find places with just women hosts, but ultimately I had to opt for a male/female couple. Of course, once this actually goes down, I’ll let you know what I thought about it (as though there was any doubt). For now, though, I’ll close out this post that has been six months in the making. This move is finally starting to feel real, and I’m starting to let myself get excited. Even the miles-long to-do list is sort of exciting. T-minus 69 days to London!