One of the most difficult and foreign things I had to do in preparation for my trip was finding a place live. It was also something that, I felt, did not contain a lot of information on the resources provided to me by my university and program advisors.
To be fair, I didn’t really ask as many questions as I should have. I tried to go it alone and figure it out by myself for far too long.
In order to prevent you, dear reader, from suffering the same stresses that I did, I am creating a short and sweet guide on how to find housing
abroad for the UCEAP Scottish Parliament Internship program. If you are not completing the program, but are going to Edinburgh in Scotland, this guide will still be useful to you. So read on! If you are simply going to Scotland/ the UK in general, there will definitely be some helpful hints on how to avoid homelessness. Finally, if you are not going to the UK/Scotland… it perplexes me that you would read a guide on how to find housing in Scotland… alas, I do not know your life dear reader, so feel free to read on and learn something (*hopefully*)
When trying to find a place to live during the UCEAP Scottish Parliament Internship program, there are three main important things to consider:
- Budget: Establish your budget. What is the maximum and minimum amount of money you personally are willing to spend/can afford?
When determining your budget, it is important to remember that the prices for accommodation in Edinburgh will most likely be more expensive than what you are used to paying. While this may not always be the case, it is better to budget a bit higher than you would expect in order to be on the safe side. In order to get a room in a flat or house in the location you will need, I recommend having a budget of $400-$800 per month. If your experience is like mine, you may end up paying less than this.
- Location: It’s all about location, location, location… Sort of. You will want to be located near one of two places: The UC Center or the Scottish Parliament Building. Make sure to figure out where those are (Google map it) and keep those locations in mind when finding a place.
Knowing about locations in Edinburgh are very important when searching for housing. Most housing sites you will use, require you to search by location (or some similar format). The Scottish Parliament Building is located near Royal Mile and Holyrood Place: commit that to memory. The UC Center is located near the Meadows, a popular housing area for students going to the University of Edinburgh. In general, the housing neighborhoods/areas you will want to look in for housing will be: New Town, Old Town, Meadows, Broughton Street, Southside, or Newingtown. This is what is recommended by the UCEAP program advisors in Scotland. However, I recommend finding a place in either the Meadows, so as to be close to the UC Center, or in New Town or Old Town, so as to be relatively close to the Parliament Building.
- Room/Housemates: Decide if you want to share a room, share a house/flat, or go it alone. I would strongly recommend connecting with the other participants of your program and finding accommodation together.
Depending on what housing site you decide to use in order to find your accommodation, it will either be much easier or much more difficult, more expensive or cheaper, to live alone. I do not recommend living alone. It would be so lonely!
After considering the above three factors, and discussing them with your room/housemates if you decide to look with your fellow interns, it is time to find a place. To begin the search, I recommend you each find two or three places that you like and sharing them with the group. After you all have a good selection, narrow it down to your top three choices and decide from there.
Most likely, the biggest challenge you will find in securing housing will be the timing. Leases are usually for a full year. Since the program is one semester, it can be hard to find proper accommodation. The easiest way, I found, to overcome this, is to find a website or housing agency that offers short term lets OR allows for you to select accommodation dates by the day/week.
Here are some websites that are useful to finding accommodation in Edinburgh (this is by no means an end all list, but simply what I found to be useful):
- Edlets: This is what I found to be the best resource for the program and how I ultimately secured housing for my program. You can easily control the location you wish to search for housing in, so as to filter only places that are near the UC Center, Parliament Building, or wherever you desire. The places shown to you are ones available for the dates you select. When you first see them, the exact price is not specified you will have to send an email and enquire about this. Do not be intimidated! You are a grown up: send the email.
- Gumtree: Gumtree is kind of like a Craigslist for the UK. It is a good resource for finding rooms in flats, or entire flats. You can filter your housing search by location and price, among other things, but not date.
- UNITE Housing: UNITE offers dorm style housing. It is definitely the most expensive option, but it is also all inclusive (you would only have to pay for your food). You will have to enquire about a short term stay option, however, as their typical leases are for the full year (a short stay option does exist though). Also, there is an option to share the housing with your fellow interns.
- Airbnb: This option is a lot like Edlets. You can search by days and area, and filter by price. Do note that it is typically an expensive option for the locations you will most likely want to be. I do recommend checking it out though, as it is an easy way to find accommodation and the people offering accommodation have profiles with reviews that you can read before making your decision.
There are plenty of other factors to consider and websites to look at when finding housing for your program, however, this is an excellent place to start. Good luck to you!
I hope this information was of some use to you, dear reader. Should you have any questions, please reach out to me! I would love to hear from you and be of assistance. Comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: While I have tried to make this guide as helpful and comprehensive as possible, do not use it as the end all resource. Be responsible and read all the other information made available to you by UCEAP and other online resources.