Hi, I am an incoming postgraduate international student this fall and I have starting searching for accommodation at Durham. I'm mainly looking for private accommodation/halls (ONLY studios or 1-bedroom flats w/ensuite + kitchen; do not want to share any facilities or live w/any flatmates). I have been searching using sites like RightMove, Zoopla, StuRents, University Living, and Student.com so far and have had moderate success in finding places I like. I just wanted further guidance on the whole process, tips on where to look, what are the best areas to live, etc. Here's some questions/topics hopefully some of you can answer:
1. Are there any other private student housing sites I should be using that I'm not?
2. What are the best areas for students to live (specifically postgraduate and/or international students)? I'm not looking for the most active student/nightlife areas, but I also don't want to live in an entirely residential area - guess something in between the two? I've mostly been looking at the Elvet, Viaduct, and Claypath areas; Gilesgate and Neville's Cross seem cheaper, but too far and not enough of a student presence. Elvet would be great as my academic buildings are right by the Science Site.
3. My budget right now is ~£140ppw + bills (so about £175ppw total). Originally I was aiming for lower, around £120-140ppw total. But when I started looking, it seemed like that wouldn't be possible, unless I chose to live in Gilesgate or Neville's Cross or opted for shared facilities. Under my requirements/wants (studio/no shared facilities/moderate student presence/close-ish to Science Site/etc.), is £175ppw total reasonable? I know it seems like a high budget, but I have scholarship funding and I'm looking to have a nice-ish place for my first time living independently.
4. Regarding move-in and move-out dates, I was hoping for a late Aug/very early Sept move-in and a July move-out. Most places seem to be going for 51 week contract starting mid-Sept, but I would rather do something like 45 weeks (if it's shorter, I can also spend more on housing per week). Could this easily be arranged w/these student studios or is it hard to negotiate a shorter contract?
Thank you so much in advance for your help!! Really appreciate it!