Accommodation in Cambridge

 

About 3-4 times a year, I get asked by students, visiting scholars, and people moving here for work about how to find accommodation in Cambridge. I usually reply by digging up the last few such emails and tweaking my response a little bit but it just crossed my mind that blogging about it might be more helpful.

So here are some things I have learned about finding accommodation in Cambridge. I will not cover accommodation offered by colleges; if you are a student, you are probably better off looking at your college accommodation website.

Accommodation comes in many flavours:

  • Single room, where washroom and kitchen etc is shared. Usually costs around £550 per month
  • Single Ensuite room, includes a washroom but kitchen etc is shared. Can go for around £650 p/m
  • Single room flat/annexes. Most include all amenities. Can go for north of £900 p/m
  • 2 bed flat/House. £1100+

Single room with sharing is a risk as far as finding good house mates is concerned but I haven’t had any bad experiences.
Finding short term accommodation is more difficult than long term and almost all estate agents offer houses on a 6+ month contract only. Here are a few websites to look at.

  • http://www.rightmove.co.uk is very good for longer stays (you might get lucky for shorter as well). Most places here are put up by agencies though which may require some deposits etc.
  • If you are looking for a single room, the best option is to ask your host if they can get an ensuite room arranged in a college. Most colleges have such facilities and almost all researchers are affiliated with some college. College rooms are quite convenient and are sometimes available for visiting researchers out of the term.
  • The university accommodation service. http://www.accommodation.cam.ac.uk These are rooms/houses checked by the university service. You can apply for free if you are a visiting scholar at the university or an affiliated institute and they usually send you a login credentials within 3-4 days.
  • http://www.brettward.co.uk/canb/search.htm is a local bulletin board and it’s easy to find short term lets here. Most of these are private land lords. No login required so you can easily check availability.
  • Another option is  http://www.gumtree.com/flats-and-houses-for-rent/cambridge Some people sublet their rooms/houses here. Most ads have pictures which are more or less recent.

As a general rule, you should pay attention to whether the room/flat is furnished or not and if all all bills are included in the rent (esp. Internet). Cambridge is very cycle friendly so anything under 20 mins of cycling from your work place should be considered. Google maps estimates are mostly accurate. Public transport is  a bit expensive. Keeping a car is an option if you are living a bit away from the town center but good luck finding parking spots in the town 🙂

The housing market is very active and any good property can be gone within a day or two. You have to be keep on checking availability everyday, sometimes twice a day. Some people prefer to stay at a B&B for a few days while finalising permanent accommodation. It costs around £50 a day or so and reduces the chances of getting a not-so-good place to stay. Best of luck!

 

Desk Descriptions

It’s been one week since I switched to a sit/stand desk setup. It’s time to report back.

magic buttons

Here are some of the points to note if you switch to a similar setup.

Comfortable shoes are a must!
If you can splurge a bit, you can get one of those fancy standing mats. I’ve tried standing barefoot, with thin socks, with thick socks, and in peshawari chappals. All of them gave me foot pain. I switched to running shoes and all was good.

Alternate between sitting and standing!
Standing too long leads to fatigue (just like sitting too long leads to fat-igue). “Too long” may mean anywhere between 1-3 hours. I’ve found switching after 1-1.5 hours works for me. Today, I was zoned-in and realised after two hours that I was working while standing. Luckily, my desk has buttons to adjust its height so switching doesn’t take long.

Rest your feet!
Standing too long on both legs, one leg, or heels leads to leg pain. From what I’ve read, foot stools help — I just use my chair or a foot rest (that you can see in the picture above).

Don’t forget you are on a sit/stand setup!

Last Monday morning, my desk was down and over the weekend, I had forgotten that I had to switch to standing mode. I noticed it after lunch and by that time, half of the day had already passed. The trick I try to use now is to leave the desk up when leaving for home. It also helps me the next day when I can start my day right away, standing, after my 25-30 mins of commute.

I’ve noticed that my sluggishness level has lowered a bit during the last week, specially post lunch.  Any effects on weight will be noticed later (and will not be reported). Having said that, one week may not be long enough to notice anything so the experiment continues!

Sit mode
Desk slightly raised. (P.S. I need recommendations for tea-bags closest in taste to Tapal Danedar)