Student House Hunting 101
Do you have your accommodation arranged for next year? Starting second year at the majority of universities means you’re out of halls and into privately rented housing – a daunting prospect for most young adults. Don’t worry, we’ve lots of sound advice and it’s all much easier than you might think!
Choosing your housemates
You may be tempted to arrange house/flat mates via friends in halls, on your course or through the society you’re involved with:
- Be careful, make sure these are people you’d be happy to live with. Living with someone can push the limits of even the closest of friendships.
- Being your port of call for a swift one in the pub doesn’t qualify a person as the ideal housemate. Think about it, will they contribute to the washing up, will they pay their bills on time and will they keep schtum during exam period.
On the flipside, you may consider moving in with people you don’t know at all, via a house-share website or a friend of a friend:
- It’s important you get an opportunity to find out whether you’ll be (at all) compatible at close quarters. So meet up with them, go for a coffee or grab a bite to eat together.
- Do this before making any decisions; the reality is you’ll never know for sure what they’ll be like as a house mate until you’re living together, but it’ll help.
- If you get a bad feeling about anything or anyone, don’t sign anything.
Choosing the accommodation
Basics first - flat or house, house or flat? Tough call, both have their benefits:
- Houses are spacious and there’s nothing better than cosying up in a comfortable living room on a Saturday evening, watching Ant and Dec entertaining the latest batch of inquisitive minds.
- However houses often come with the added hassle of sorting out bills, an internet connection and badgering your landlord to get that leaky pipe fixed.
- These issues are often sidetracked via renting a flat in a managed building. The choice is yours, but make sure you’re comfortable with whatever you and your housemates decide on.
Where to live?
Most university towns and cities have established student areas, so these seem an obvious choice:
- There are plenty of like-minded people around and the community is largely accepting of students.
- Consider the locations of these areas though; they can often be a fair distance from university. Have a good look around. You may decide you want to be able to roll out of bed straight into early morning lectures.
If you’re a first-time renter this stage is more difficult. Is the property fit for human habitation and will issues be dealt with promptly and effectively?
- Avoid renting a cheap property from a landlord you barely know anything about. It’s likely there is a University Accommodation Service attached to your university. They will have an approved list of private landlords/accommodation and will work closely with the council to ensure best practice via Student Accommodation Accreditation Schemes.
- Remember, if the rent is dirt-cheap there’s probably a reason. Try your best to check the condition of the property before signing.
- Be cautious when you move in, check for damage, dampness, functionality, etc. Take dated pictures so the landlord can’t blame you for damage that already existed.
A word on behalf of the neighbours!
- They were all young once and most welcome students.
- Whole areas of our major university towns and cities are now dominated by student housing in what has become known as 'studentification'.
- This has had some adverse effects, not only on the local people but also on students themselves.
- Living in such a community invites respect, tolerance and a bit of give and take – work on it!
- Follow the Community Code: "say hello, keep the peace and clean up".
Get all the above right and who knows? You may have one of the best years of your life. For a more detailed look at where to live, read our comprehensive guide to student accommodation.
Next page: The Cost of Living as a Student in London