Finding a place to stay, a place of accommodation in the UK as an international doctor (IMG) may prove to be difficult in different stages of your journey.

I don’t have any family living in the UK.
Where will I stay during my PLAB 2 visit?
How do I find an accommodation?
Is there any blacklist of accommodations that I should avoid?

These are the questions asked by many PLAB aspirants when they are planning their visit to the UK prior to joining an academy.

When do an IMG need to look for an accommodation in the UK?

You will at least need to visit the UK once for your PLAB 2 or GMC ID Check (if you are not taking the PLAB route of GMC registration) before coming with a Tier 2 visa for work.

You, as an IMG, can also look for a shared accommodation or a temporary place to stay before committing to renting in the UK when you come with a work visa. So, at two separate times this article is going to be of help:

  • Your PLAB 2 visit for academy or course and the PLAB 2 exam
  • Before starting to work as a doctor when coming with a Tier 2 visa

People rent the rooms in their houses

I never had any experience of sub-letting before thus for this idea to kick in, it took some time when I was looking for UK accommodation as an IMG.

Obviously, there are a lot of people who are just like me, who don’t have any kith and kin living in the UK, goes to the UK for the purpose of PLAB 2, around the year. They’ll have to stay at rented properties. And the most common places anyone will want to stay is nearby their PLAB academy or courses.

Finding a palace to stay without being present in the UK can be a challenge for an IMG

Where do I look for accommodation?

So, I dug around the internet and found a few websites which contains listing of accommodation in the UK.

  1. Spare Room
  2. Roombuddies
  3. UK Easyroommate
  4. Gumtree
  5. Rightmove

I opened accounts in all these websites above. I found out what area which is nearby my PLAB 2 academy and, most importantly, within my budget. In addition to that, I also put together a well written message.

What did I include in my message?

  • My name
  • My occupation
  • Where I’m from
  • My purpose of visit to the UK
  • From which date I want to rent (I decided this 1-2 days prior to my course starting date)
  • The possible duration of my stay
  • The state of my visa (In my case, I had no visa and told everyone I am still processing it)
  • Anything you wanna add (whether you smoke or not etc – depending on the terms stated on the advert)
  • Why the advert caught your attention. (It maybe some terms like female only, or location, or pricing etc)
  • And obviously you’ll say that you are eagerly awaiting their reply. 🙂

All of this should be concise. Remember, landlords / principle tenants get a lot of messages and queries if they let their room/property at a good price. So one message (not an essay) should clarify your situation completely.

The websites have their way of sending messages without giving away your email ID. When you get a reply you get an email to go to the website to check. Or you can just download the website’s app for more flexibility.

Spareroom

As an IMG, I found my very first UK accommodation through the spareroom website. It felt less cluttered and the adverts had all the information categorised and displayed in one page. Things I considered when searching:

  • Location. (Per advert I had Google maps open on another tab to find out what’s the distance between the possible address shown in the advert’s map and my course)
  • Price. (I always sorted from low to high)
  • Bills included in the rent.
  • Free internet / wifi
  • The type of people I’d be willing to live with (non-smokers, only males, only females, no pets, etc)

In spareroom, you should also open an advert for yourself. That will be used as reference in the messages you send the advertisers.

Spareroom website helps you find rooms to rent in the UK

Then you start messaging the advertisers, with your well written message from above. In my experience, some renters preferred other ways of communication like Whatsapp, Skype etc. See what works best for you.

What do you need from them for your UK Visit Application?

  • Assurance that they will be able to provide you accommodation from your starting date. (In my opinion, just assurance is a big thing, but if they tell you that they need you to pay ahead of time, don’t pursue further.)
  • Clarification about rent and bills and other terms and conditions.

If you don’t have a visa and haven’t found any other plan for accommodation, you need the following from them:

  • An invitation letter stating your name, your passport no, your purpose, your relationship (friend/ tenant) and your duration of stay (to avoid conflict between you visa application’s duration of stay vs your real duration of stay, I would suggest your invitation letter may contain only the starting date of your tenancy)
  • Council tax bill of the address.
  • Utility bill of the address.

I also saw some advert stating that ‘they do accommodation address’, maybe they add an extra charge for that. Ask in case it is mentioned. IMGs should be aware of frauds while looking for accommodation in the UK. Look for blacklisted accommodations at the end of this article reported by other IMGs.

Now a question may arise in one’s skeptic mind, who’ll do all this? They will. I had messaged maybe around 35-45 advertisers and about 10-12 replied. After talking further with all of them, I finally found who agreed to provide me with what I need, and was also within my budget.

And another clarification about the tenancy agreement. If you don’t have the valid leave to remain i.e. your visa, you shouldn’t be able to go/sign into a tenancy agreement. If your landlord/principal tenant sends you a confirmation letter of your tenancy and adds a clause that ‘only when you have a valid leave to remain’, that seals it.

Accommodation Confirmation Letter

You can forward this letter to your landlord if they are not sure how to write a letter for your visa purpose.

Date
The Visa Officer or To Whom It May Concern
UK Visa and Immigration Department
The British High Commission


Dear Sir/Madam,
I can confirm that YOUR NAME will be my tenant at HIS ADDRESS during his course of stay in the UK for a short course, subject to him having obtained for a valid leave to remain. His details are as below:


Name:
Date of Birth:
Passport Number:
Duration Start Date:
Exam Date: (He added my PLAB 2 date)


Please, feel free to contact me by any of the below mean if any further information is required of me.

Sincerely,
(Signature)
(Landlord’s Name)
(Occupation)
Email:
Phone:

My landlord also added the council tax bill and/or utility (electricity) bill copies, which I submitted in my visa application too.

AirBnb can be the option for a shorter stay

If however, you’re staying for one month or less Airbnb is the best optionSign up through this link to get up to £50 off your first trip.

AirBnb also has an option to get a letter for visa application through the app when a booking is confirmed. You ccan always use the AirBnb itinerary for your visa application as a proof of planning regarding where you will stay while you visit.

AirBnb is our go-to choice for any short stay in the UK!

One last thing. DO NOT, under any circumstances, send money to ANYONE, be it by Western Union, Paypal, or whatever, until yourself have physically gone to the location and seen it, along with proof that the person actually is authorized to rent it out. There are many scams out there with people who will say they are currently abroad and will mail you the key after you send in some money. IT IS A SCAM. Always verify and be certain what you are doing is legal, above-board, and safe. Also before you move in, take extensive photos and videos of your living quarters so that getting your deposit back won’t be a hassle. Other than that, you should be good to go!

Blacklisted Accommodations

We made efforts to make a blacklist of UK accommodation places, where past IMG had horrible experiences. Have a look here, blacklisted accommodations, before you finalize your accommodation just to be safe.

If you have suffered, you can help future doctors by filling this accommodation feedback form.

We hope you all find a good place stay. Good luck!

32 thoughts on “Finding an accommodation in the UK as an IMG”

  1. Hello again. How do we go about planning for our accommodation for PLAB 2 visa? I am a bit confused. In the guide it says we shouldn’t pay for the accommodation before we get there so do we make a provisional booking whereby we make a deposit to ensure they keep the place? Thank you.

    1. If you are booking a hotel or through an established organisation like AirBnb, that’s fine. But when booking from a person for a room share, it’s a risk to pay upfront without looking at the place as there is no liability.

  2. Hi!I’ve received my Tier 2 visa but I’ve not yet arrived in UK. My hospital accommodation is full. So,I’ve been in touch with some letting agents and most of them have asked that I’ve to pay one week rent in advance if I want to reserve a property which will be adjusted when I’ll pay my rent later. Is it a normal practice in UK? Second question is who will set up the utilities in the home which I’ll rent? Letting agents, landlord or we do it ourselves..Because if someone is coming from overseas, he/she has no idea whom to contact for setting these. Third question is that the first month rent is usually paid in advance or at the end of the month? Fourth question is that if there is a delay in opening of my bank account, is it okay that I pay deposit to agencies in cash or it is not safe. Apologies for asking too many questions but kindly guide whenever you’ve time. Regards

    1. 1. Paying an advance is normal, yes. But as it explains, it is not extra, it is just paying early.
      2. You have to set up utilities billing. There will be utilities connected already, you have to later on tell them at which date you moved in. You can also change the provider if you want to after you move in. Contact details for whomever can easily be found on google.
      3. Rent is paid according to the tenancy contract you sign. It is usually at the start of the month.
      4. No cash transaction is safe in my opinion. As you can’t trace it.

      Please also read this article: How to Rent Property in the UK

  3. ISHFAQ AHMAD WANI

    Hello,
    what would be best option for us , i am travelling to uk with my friend to sit in mrcs osce exams , our stay will be of 4 weeks .
    Thank you.

        1. Depends on what you eat. You can always search in google the restaurants and look up the menu. Yes, halal is readily available in city like manchester.

  4. Malvika Jaikanth

    If I’m styaing with a family member would an ivitation letter suffice or do i have to provide other documents like utility bill,council tax?

  5. Do I still require to provide invitation lettrer, tax & utility bill papers if I book a place through AirBnB? Or just the proof of booking will do?

  6. Hello, can we mention an address of some one who rents room around academies. Would proof be required if yes what sort of proof be needed as this is a lady who rents room to students at her home

    1. That is mentioned in the above post, isn’t it?
      They have to supply proof of their living there with a utility bill or council tax bill.

  7. Hi, Could you please give an average amount per night stay at the accomodations provided in the above link for Manchester and London? I understand that it depends on your requirements but what is considered as “not too expensive” when in comes to accommodation ?
    Most of the academies provide accommodation ranging from 18- 30 pounds per night based on single/double occupancy.

  8. Hey Ivan,
    I have been following your wonderful site for a while now. i have cleared plab 1 and i am scheduled to appear for plab 2 on JUly 20th. when would be the ideal time to start searching for accommodation? i have started applying to a few but they tend to be very costly or too far from the academy!

    1. Congrats on PLAB 1!
      Get help from the sorting option in the advertising sites. Spareroom will have many that are not that pricey.
      Timing depends on your visa application and all.

  9. Thank you.
    Then should I I just avoid mentioning practicing .However, I have to be there 3 weeks before exam. How best can this be put forward?

    1. The best way is to give a valid reason, like attending a course (with documentary proof), or seminar or attachment of anything of that sort. If you can’t show any valid reason, it’s unlikely they will provide you visa that early for the exam as a reason.

  10. I would be self sponsoring my PLAB 2 trip. I would stay with a friend. How should I put forwards this in my cover letter and the application form?
    I would not attend an academy , but only practice for 3 weeks prior to the exam date.
    How should l I present myself?

    1. Get an invitation letter from that friend and attach that in your application.
      and about practicing, they can easily deny on the basis that- you can practice in your country and go just before the exam, can’t you? If you state that you need to practice with someone, they need to send confirmation of that and explain accordingly.

  11. Thanks Dr. Ivan,
    I like to know about the accommodation provided by different academy, like swammy or samson. Is there any benefit booking those accommodation? Secondly, one of the academy told me to pay full rent in advance for issuing booking letter for VISA. Is it a wise decision to book that?
    Thank you.

    1. A lot of people find benefit in that they are always surrounded by other examinees/have someone to study with. If the academy is asking to you pay in full in advanced, it is at your discretion. Obviously they will not cheat you or deceive you, but you should look into any refund options in case you have any sudden change in your plan.

  12. Dr. Ibrahim,
    Thank you so much!! This post and your website are extremely helpful!!
    I wanted to ask you, can we use these websites to find accommodation for visa purposes only? (I mean, to use the address only to apply for the visa; not necessarily to actually stay there.)
    Also, Airbnb asks to pay on the website.. I found a nice accommodation there, but I have to pay beforehand. Is there anywhere I can find a place only for visa purposes? I’ve checked out two of the other websites you’ve posted. If they don’t ask for payment, can I book “provisionally”?
    Thank you!

    1. Hello,
      These websites doesn’t let you book anything. These are mostly advertisement websites. You contact with the advertiser/agency who’s letting the place directly to a renter like you, the website is only the media, unlike airbnb.
      Whichever place you are going to stay, why can’t you say you’re staying there if you’ve decided on a place?
      To my knowledge, if you do that, only book a place to show but actually you don’t – that won’t be problem if you have a valid booking, like a hotel or something.
      But it’s always advised to be truthful in your applications as these are sensitive matters.
      Good luck.

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