The Freshers' Guide
Sidney freshers will always be offered college accommodation (but the college cannot accommodate the children of students, and accommodation for couples is limited). The allocation of college accommodation for graduates is administered by the Graduate Tutor's secretary. If you wish to accept college accommodation, you will be asked to sign a room occupancy agreement with the college shortly after your arrival for a period of 9-12 months; the default end date is 30 June but you will be asked if you wish to extend your lease during Easter term. You will be billed for your room rent at the beginning of each term.
Private sector accommodation
The majority of grads in residence for more than a year will have to find private sector accommodation after their first year. Some, and particularly those with partners or families, might also prefer to do so from the start. Private sector accommodation obviously lacks the services provided in college (most significantly, cleaning services, fast university network connections, and flexibility over your moving-out date in the summer), and comes with additional costs; however the KFC (Kitchen Fixed Charge) to be paid to college is vastly reduced and private accommodation for sharers or couples is often similarly priced to college accommodation.
There are many letting agents operating in Cambridge, and there are also online notice boards and newsgroups advertising rooms, flats and houses available for rent. The GU's accommodation page provides some useful background information and links.
The University also runs an Accommodation Service to help members of the university to find accommodation (most of which is privately owned).
The Accommodation Service is based at Kellet Lodge on Tennis Court Road. They maintain a database with details of privately rented properties including flats, houses, rooms in shared houses and rooms where the owner lives. You can obtain information and advice from their office in person (no appointment necessary), and you can register to use an online property search facility for which current students can register. Properties are available on both long and short-term basis, but it is often more difficult to obtain self-contained accommodation for periods of less than six months.
The Service also has the details of self-contained flats owned by the University, which are available to postgraduate students, academics, staff and visiting scholars. The minimum let is normally six months up to a maximum stay of two years, but there is a waiting list and priority is given to those new to Cambridge.
The Accommodation Service sells maps and phone cards, and provides a helpful information leaflet. Useful guidance on rents, letting arrangements and tenancy agreements will be given, as well as information on schools, banking, medical practices and other local facilities.
Freshers' Guide last modified: 22 February 2013