Where should I live?
Glasgow has many nice places and sure every neighborhood has its advantages. If you’re staying only for 4 months and you’re spending most of your time around University (which you will, trust me) then we recommend staying in West End. Great Western Road, Byres Road and Argyll Street are the three big streets where everything is on (Bars, Cafes, Restaurants, Vintage Shops, Supermarkets, Banks, etc.). You will find anything near those streets and you’ll be close to everything you’ll need for your stay!
How are the student accommodations?
You will find plenty of student accommodations in Glasgow but most of them rent out their rooms on a yearly basis, so they don’t offer short-term rents for GLOCAL students. Our GLOCAL cohort was given three options on student accommodation: Unite Students Tramworks, Unite Students Kelvin Court, True Students.
One big advantage of all of them is the location: All of them are situated in the same two streets a wee bit off Argyll street and in walking distance to University (15-20 minutes), the Kelvingrove Park, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, supermarkets, bars, and restaurants. All student accommodations seem pretty safe as they are located in a safe area and have gates and security guards 24/7.
1. Unite Students
Both accommodations from Unite (Tramworks and Kelvin Court) provide short-term flatshares for Erasmus students: there is a high chance that you end up sharing a flat with people from your class or students from the other Erasmus Mundus programs at UofG. You have your own room with shower and share a kitchen with about 4 other people.
The accommodation have common rooms with Ping-Pong tables, lounges, and study areas. Additionally to the assets Tramworks has a small gym too.
What people like about Unite Students:
“The thing I like the most about living at Unite is that I get to have my own bathroom. The room is warm and cosy; the kitchen is spacious and well-equipped, and I have amazing flatmates (which, of course, is not guaranteed). From time to time, Unite also organises social events, such as city bus tours and parties, and there is a common room with a ping-pong table (usually occupied by Chinese people), pool table (also occupied by the Chinese- the student nationality structure is dominated by the world’s most populous country), as well as a humongous TV with PlayStation 4 (which you will probably never get to enjoy because you’ll be suffocated by assignments). There is also a free printer that traditionally doesn’t work. Joking aside, I feel very much at home at Kelvin Court and would recommend it to future GLOCALs.”
A good number of our cohort stayed at Unite students and liked it. It is an easy place to stay for the short semester in Glasgow. They appreciated especially the good location!
What people dislike about Unite Students: Having to buy everything when you move in (bedlinen, bedding, kitchenware, etc.), no 24/7 reception, expensive laundry service
“Recently (in Unite Students Tramworks at least) I have been getting really annoyed at how easy it is to get locket out, at how annoying it is to wash your clothes because dryers don’t work.”
2. True Students
True students is probably the newest and fanciest student accommodation in Glasgow, as it was just about to open when our first group moved in (September 2017). At true students you have the option to live in a Studio by yourself. This includes a bathroom and a small kitchen in your room. There is a big common area with lounges, a small movie theatre, different TVs, table tennis and table football, a slide and a reception. You have various common kitchens which you can use anytime. There is also a gym and a café on site.
What people like about true: The gym (not many machines, but much space and regular classes during the week: gym introduction, boxing, fitness, etc.), the library area (includes a printer), the Café (where you can get coffee, breakfasts, smoothies, salads, soups and pizza), the common kitchen (which you can book anytime to invite friends and have small gatherings) and the fancy rooms (the studios remind more of a hotel room than a student accommodation). The staff at true are very nice and helpful and always up for a wee chat.
What people dislike: At true you pay for the fancy living as it is the most expensive option of accommodation. Especially for our group of students living there after the opening there were some starting issues. Besides from the fire alarm going off several times a week (they seem to have fixed it by now: fingers cross!) it can take a while to get problems fixed (showers and heaters).
3. Private Accommodation
What if I prefer to live in private flat/flatshare?
Finding your own place to stay offers you the possibility to meet people apart from university and live in a different environment. Some students of our cohort chose this option and are generally happy they did so. Finding your own place can be tricky and linked to some issues you have to regard. We put together some tips for a successful search:
- Start your search during the summer, as early as possible and if possible back home. Looking for a room while already being in Glasgow can become a really stressful and frustrating experience!
- Have patience and endurance: it takes a while for people to respond, if they do at all. Giving a call is more efficient.
- Start your search on some of the most popular websites: gumtree.com; www.spareroom.co.uk; www.citylets.co.uk. Facebook pages related to the University of Glasgow (such as Glasgow University Postgraduate Students) or flatshares in Glasgow can be helpful, too.
- Make an advertising on Spareroom stating what you are looking for. People seem to react faster to this than to your mails.
Last but not least: Be aware – There are many scams in Glasgow! Never ever ever ever make a payment in advance without having met the landlords or the people subletting the rooms or having an actual contract!! (It does not matter what they tell you about death, birth, heaven and hell – don’t pay them!)
What about the money?
Whereas it is common for student accommodations that you pay the rent for the whole term in advance (you can ask for a monthly rate, but usually they want all the money ahead), you should NEVER PAY a private accommodation you found by yourself money without having a contract and having actually seen the apartment or the landlord.
Student accommodation seem pricy: you pay between 130£ (cheapest flatshare at Unite Students) and 160£ (most expensive Studio at true) per week. At Unite Students you will additionally have to spend money on basic items such as bedding, kitchenware and household stuff. At true they provide you with a basic stock of everyday objects, such as blankets, towels, pillows, bedlinen, one pot, one pan, one fork, one knife, one spoon, etc. In either case you will have to go on a quest for toilet brushes, trash bags and anything additional.
“When you make a booking (at unite) they will try to sell your ridiculously overpriced ‘bedroom and kitchen packs’ but don’t fall for it – it’s a rip off. You can find everything for ten times less money at the uni portal My Glasgow (whis is where students sell used stuff), or at stores such as Argos, Poundland or Ikea. At argos, for example, If bough a duvet, pillow and bedding set for 25£, and I got second-hand kitchenwar from an Italian guiy for 5 quid (Unite’s ‘all-in-one pack’ is 180 – ouch!)”
Private accommodation, especially if you are looking for a flatshare can definitely be cheaper. If you haven’t booked anything ahead consider that you will have to spend money on accommodation as long as you are looking for a room in Glasgow. Airbnbs and Hostel can get really pricy, too.
Should I go for the student accommodation or find a flat/flatshare on my own?
Ultimately the decision is up to you. If you want to be sure everything works out and you want to avoid any kind of trouble before getting to Glasgow, the student accommodation provides you with a safe option. If you want to make a more individual choice, find a cheaper option, experience living and get to know people outside the university sphere, and you don’t mind going through the trouble organising everything by yourself, you will definitely find some good options on private flatshares in the area.
What about Accessible Accommodation for wheel users?
Regarding accessible accommodation for students coming to Glasgow, we would definitely recommend a student accommodation near the university. Most of them provide the basics, nevertheless, don’t be surprised about surprisingly finding steps no one warned you about!
Close to UofG (University of Glasgow) there are several accessible rooms (meaning with adapted bathrooms for wheelchairs). We can bring some insight information about Unite Student Tramworks, as this is what where our fellow student has lived for the first semester:
“The place has several doors that are quite heavy and I asked the management to automatize the doors, with a positive but slow respond. The room is spacious and the bathroom super big. The kitchen is not adapted: countertops are high, without space below; the buttons for turning on appliances are difficult to reach; the oven and cook are also high. However, it is possible to make it. Not comfortable, but possible. The people at the accommodation are really friendly, listen to your request and are willing to help. Another accommodation with accessible rooms is True Students. I believe it must also be similar (regarding the bathroom and the kitchen) but yet they still have not automatized the doors.”
One more tip: Be aware that Glasgow has a lot of hills and that you will need to think about either driving a car or getting a handcycle or a scooter!