Uniplaces is an accommodation website that’s makes it easy to find student accommodation in cities around the world. It’s primarily aimed at students, but you don’t have to be a student to use it: anyone can book a bed, room, or entire apartment through Uniplaces.com.
(Uniplaces are giving Portugalist readers a chance to save money on their next booking. Simply use the code PORTUGALIST when booking, and you’ll get a 10% discount off your order.)
Uniplaces has actually been on my radar for a while. First of all, it’s a Portuguese startup and that’s exciting! Uniplaces is based near Rossio in Lisbon, and it’s great to see a Portuguese startup doing so well. You can find student accommodation all over Europe with Uniplaces, but particularly in Madrid, Rome, Valencia, Milan, London, Munich, and Berlin. In Portugal, Uniplaces is primarily concentrated on Lisbon, Porto, and Coimbra – Portugal’s main student cities.
Another reason I’m familiar with Uniplaces is that I have considered using them for a medium to long-term rental in Lisbon. As mentioned, anyone can use Uniplaces and I did like the look of quite a few properties on the site. Airbnb has gotten so ridiculously expensive for medium and long-term lets in Lisbon and Porto, and so I’ve been checking out a few other sites like Spotahome (not in Lisbon yet), Nestpick, and Uniplaces.
I’m probably not the only non-student who’s looking at Uniplaces either. There are an increasing number of digital nomads or location-independent professionals moving to Lisbon (or thinking about it), and in search of accommodation.
From looking at their listings, I think Uniplaces is probably cheaper than Airbnb overall. It’s aimed at students, yes, but I didn’t think the accommodation on Uniplaces was any worse than a lot of the more affordable options on Airbnb. It’s certainly on par; if not slightly better than most of the Airbnbs with affordable monthly rates.
Of course, renting privately would be cheaper. Sites like OLX.pt and Sapo.pt will list hundreds of apartments for long-term (and occasionally medium-term) rent. Uniplaces just makes it easier to find those apartments, particularly if you’re not currently in Lisbon.
But, even without the discount code, I was able to find one-bedroom apartments in Lisbon for as little as €400-600. Bedrooms were slightly cheaper. I found a couple for less than €250, with all of the bills included.
Having all your bills included, especially when you’re renting an entire apartment is very helpful for those who have just moved to Portugal e.g. Erasmus students and digital nomads. It’s hard enough trying to organise an apartment, but having to deal with the gas and electricity companies makes it even more challenging. Even more challenging is getting an internet connection for just 3-6 months. Renting a place where everything is included cuts down a lot of that hassle.
Uniplaces’ service fees are slightly cheaper than the likes of Airbnb as well, although only if you rent long-term. While Airbnb, Wimdu, HouseTrip, and all of the other major short-term accommodation websites charge service fees every month, Uniplaces only charges the service fee once. For an apartment, this is usually around €250. That’s expensive if you only stay for one month, but only €20-40 per month if you stay 6-12 months.
Although Uniplaces is probably cheaper than Airbnb and most other accommodation sites, there’s definitely one area where Uniplaces falls short: reviews of the apartments and hosts. It’s still a relatively new website, and most of the properties have no reviews yet. Those that do only have one or two reviews.
While some people are happy to book a property that has no reviews, I am always a little bit cautious. A good landlord (or landlady) can make or break a property, and I like to know what I’m getting into.
I also want to know a little bit about the property itself. Is it noisy? How’s the internet? Does everything work okay? What are the neighbours like?
Similarly, I couldn’t find many reviews of Uniplaces online. There was a mixture of reviews on TrustPilot and a couple of other sites: some good and some bad. At the time of writing, Uniplaces scored an 8.2 out of 10. If anyone has used Uniplaces, and would like to share their experience, please leave a review in the comments below.