International Student Story

October 14, 2022

About me:

Heya! I’m Yves, and I am an international student studying History student here at Exeter. In my second and third years, I have been living in shared houses with other students. This is a lot of fun - plus, living with others has helped me develop general life skills and I have grown massively as a result! I have had experience renting a private studio and student houses, and I would love to share my experience with you. I also know people who prefer to live in purpose-built student accommodation.

My story:

Being the first person in my family to attend a British university, I had no idea that renting houses was an option. Most accommodations advertised to us by study-abroad agencies and content creators are expensive private studios. Fortunately, I have made friends through societies and my course who let me know that renting is an option for me. So, I would highly encourage my international student friends to consider renting flats or houses.

Why I chose to rent a student house:

  • British University Experience: Sharing student houses is one of the main staples of British university culture, in my opinion. I wanted to immerse myself in this culture and meet people from different backgrounds. This also allows me to connect with the wider student body through the shared experience of living in student houses.
  • Costs: It is cheaper to rent a shared flat/house than to rent a studio. Many private studios charge more than 200GBP per week on average and can work out as more expensive compared to shared private housing (where you still have your own bedroom). Shared private housing, even in central locations (i.e., close to town and university) tends to range from around 115GBP to 180GBP per week. The differences can add up and as a result of renting, I saved a lot of money which allows me to spend more on other things like extracurriculars, travelling around the country, etc.
  • Personal growth: Living in a studio in my first year was an incredibly isolating experience. I enjoy being around people (although a lot of the time, I’ve got to focus on my work), and I see renting as an opportunity to have fun with my friends as well as to learn to live independently. A shared house/flat is an environment where you can learn to sort out your bills, bin days, and clean alongside your friends. Furthermore, learning to read the contract and familiarising yourself with renting will definitely help you be aware of what a good or bad contracts are in the future.

Renting a student house VS studio:

  • Location: Sometimes, shared houses are in as convenient of locations as some in-town studios. There are many student houses on Longbrook St, Pennsylvania Road, or near the Iron Bridge which is very close to both town and university. Or you can look further out to other areas of Exeter.
  • Costs: As mentioned, it can be cheaper to rent flats/houses. It is definitely possible to rent cheaper without compromising on the location and convenience. Properties close to the University go quickly and you may need to look further afield to get good deals.
  • Support: I definitely feel a lot more supported in a student house than in a studio. I have recently become homesick and because I live with my friends, they have made Exeter feel like home to me. My housemates are absolutely lovely, and they are such a fun bunch who are always up to do something together whether that may be a chill film evening, conversations in the backyard, or going out clubbing - this definitely helps me feel less homesick.
  • Living conditions: Studios are definitely better looking. Student houses can sometimes not look the best because they are a bit older. Student houses feel much more homely, but studios are generally newer and warmer.
  • Bills – Studios usually have bills included which can be easier to manage than most private rental properties where you will have to arrange payment and divide the bill between tenants.

Living with people from different cultures:

In both my second and third years, all my housemates have been British. I do find it a little difficult at times trying to ask people to understand certain cultural boundaries (i.e., no shoes in my room), and sometimes I find it difficult to understand others' lifestyles too. But compromise and communication help me get through this (although, this is something which I am still working on to find a balance). In the end, I have found this a very rewarding experience because it allows me to gain conflict management skills and it helps broaden my cultural horizon.


For more information about finding accommodation, moving in and out, information about relevant paperwork, and your rights and responsibilities, check out the Guild Advice pages on accommodation. Housing - Students' Guild (

The website can tell you about

  • Where to find houses
  • How to book
  • Deposit information
  • Guarantors
  • Moving in
  • Common problems when you are in the property
  • Advice for moving out.

You can also email them for advice or queries