The Student Pocket Guide | Student Living: A Guide
By Stuart Robinson
It’s probably not something you’ve had to think about before, but housing is one of the most important things you’ll have to organise during your time at university…
You’re going to be spending a few years studying and will inevitably need somewhere to live, but it’s not just about having a roof over your head; it’s about having somewhere to relax, great housemates that you get along with, and somewhere to get away from it all.To lend you a helping hand while you’re scouring the market, we’ve listed our top tips when looking for student housing, and how to find the best place that’s just right for you.
• Decide who you want to live with – Do you want to live in a party house, or a more calming environment? With a group of lads or some of the girls? Do you want a big house or a place for just a couple of you? These are all important factors, as you will be in the house for at least 9 months. You may have only known your friends for a few months, but you need to decide who you really want to live with. And if you’ve been lucky enough to find that special someone at university, have a good think before you decide to move in with them. If the worst happens and you split, it’s going to create a pretty awkward environment in the house.
• Is everyone happy? You may like the house you’ve found, but if someone else is unhappy, it will be unfair to make them live somewhere they don’t want to for a year. If you’re the one that’s not happy, say something. Bad accommodation can ruin your time at uni, so don’t settle if you don’t have to.
• Know when to look in your city – In some cities, it will be normal to find a house just after Christmas, but in other cities, such as London, people will generally start to look nearer to the summer. If you want the best place for the best price, you need to get in first.
• Research the area – do an online search, see what others have said about the place you want to live. You don’t want to move in to what you think is a great neighbourhood, only to find out it’s a criminal’s paradise. Once you’ve done your research, spend some time in the area and on your street. What are the local conveniences? Is it likely to be noisy at night time? Any evidence of crime? These are all things that can affect the time you spend in your house, so make sure you really know where you’re living before you sign anything.
• Found a decent area? Figure out your daily route from your house to uni, and practice it. If it’s too long, that may be all the ill-advised encouragement you need to stay in bed instead of going to those important lectures.
• Get to know your landlords – They’re in the business of looking after you and your house, so it doesn’t hurt to have a good relationship with them. Find out their names, chat to them whenever they’re about, and you may feel a lot more comfortable with your living situation. After all, they own the house, so it’s good to know who they are!
• Don’t feel rushed into anything – If you have any concerns or issues, talk them through with your agents. They may be able to sort out any problems you may have before you sign the contract. You’ll probably be spending a lot of time in your house, so it’s worth getting everything sorted properly, without rushing through issues or leaving anything out. It’s not a race, so spend as much time as you can working though your options and figuring out what needs to be done.
• Do the maths – Your dream house may be £80 a week, but take into account that this is also £320 a month and in total, £3840 a year. Can you afford it? If that doesn’t include bills, you’ll have to factor that in as well, and anything else you want for the house, such as insurance or a TV licence. University halls will normally be more expensive than private accommodation, but will often include bills, so remember this when comparing the two. Rent can vary between different areas of the country and different areas of a city, so it’s worth looking around before making a decision. You never know, you may even find a better place for a lower price!
• Once you’ve moved in, it’s a good idea to properly go over your inventory and take photos of each and every room. By doing this, you can prove what the house was like should any problems arise during your tenancy. If there’s anything that the landlord promised to do before you moved in and hasn’t, or if anything still needs fixing, get on the phone and start bugging them right away.
Written by Stuart Robinson