Hi, I’m Bethan Evans, a fourth-year student at the University of Birmingham. Finding the best student accommodation might seem daunting. But never fear, I’ve got some secret tips to help you find the right place for the right price.
Count your money
Whether you’re planning to live with housemates or on your own, it’s time to talk money. Always be mindful of what everyone can afford. What is cheap to one person, may be too expensive for someone else. Make sure you’re not spending all of your loan on your rent.
Draw up a list
Location. Location. Location. Take a note from Kirstie and Phil, the professionals, location is so important. If you don’t fancy having a long walk to campus, choose somewhere close to uni.
Now I know, you’re probably thinking that’s so obvious. But trust me, the adrenaline of choosing somewhere quickly may cloud your judgement of what it is that you really want.
Make a list of what requirements you have and use it to inform your search. Remember, you’re unlikely to find a house that meets a huge list of criteria, so decide what is a must-have and what’s a bonus.
See lots of places
Once you’ve decided on you you’re living with, your budget and location, it’s time to wander the streets (or better, search on a student accommodation website).
The three essentials for student housing hunting are:
- See as many houses as you can
- Take photos! It’ll make it easier to remember which ones you love
- Ask questions at viewings! I hope it’s not just me who turns into a goldfish when someone asks, ‘any questions?’. So be prepared!
Ask your agent
Do you want to know a secret?
There’s no such thing as the perfect landlord or letting agent.
But, if you want to make sure your agent or landlord is trustworthy, ask if they’re a member of a local or national landlord association. By joining an organisation, they show that they take their responsibilities seriously.
Ultimately, you must make your final decision based on the accommodation you want, not the letting agent or landlord.
So, you’ve found the perfect house, but before you commit…
Read your contract
This explains exactly what responsibilities you have and what you can expect from your letting agent and landlord. It is a legally binding document which you can’t just walk away from once it’s signed.
If you don’t understand something, ASK! It’s essential that you know what you’re getting yourself into before you sign.
If you need help, you can get lots of advice at your university’s student union.
Sort your bills
You can find lots of student accommodation with bills included in the rent. But often, you’ll need to sort your utilities out yourself.
If that’s the case, there are lots of options out there. Shop around. There are companies that will help you split the bills, or you can sort everything yourself, using a price comparison website.
Don’t make this mistake
It’s July and your tenancy has just started. It’s easy to think ‘I won’t sort my bills until September, when I move in’.
Don’t think that! Sort your utilities as soon as your tenancy starts, or you’ll have a massive bill waiting for you.
Welcome to the real world of budgeting, bills, and house hunting. After all this, you’ll feel like a proper adult. Don’t worry, you’ll do great.
Bethan studies at University of Birmingham and is a blogger for Purple Frog, which provides student accommodation in Birmingham, Bristol and Nottingham.