Time flies! 6 months have already passed since the beginning of uni, and although there are several months before everybody goes home for the summer, now is the best time to start looking for a place to live next year; before it’s too late! It might seem early, but if you don’t motivate yourself to find a house now, it will become an issue for next year.
A lot of students are not allowed to stay in their halls beyond their first year and therefore need to move. One of the reasons a lot of freshers choose to stay in halls during their first year is that they’re often attending uni in a new place and therefore don’t know anybody. Halls of residence are a great way to meet and bond with a lot of people. Once you get used to your new campus and have made plenty of friends moving becomes easier.
Living in a house comes with it’s advantages such as it’s generally cheaper than halls and there are way less restrictions (eg anybody can stay over; guests don’t have to sign in whenever they want to pay you a visit).
When looking for houses many things must be taken into consideration. Here are some tips to help you in your hunt for your new home.
Firstly, make sure you know the people you are going to move in with well and also that you all have the same objectives. For example, it’s not going to be easy to cope with party animals if you’re the kind of person that is very calm and focused on your studies. Spending time with good friends is not the same as living with them. You’ll have to put up with them all day long and being in someones presence all the time can actually lead to tension or even quarrels.
Cleaning can also be an issue because not everybody has the same perception of it, so make it clear from the very beginning how often chores should be carried out and who should be in charge of the rota (a cleaning schedule is an effective solution to tackle the problem).
When looking for a house you want to find somewhere close to local amenities and with easy transport links. Try to check if there’s a bus stop nearby, how far the rail station is from the house (it’s not the most important, but it’s not very convenient to walk endless miles when you want to take the train to go home). It’s also useful if there’s somewhere you can do your grocery shopping nearby. Many students can’t drive so it can be difficult getting home with numerous shopping bags.
If you’re thinking about subscribing to the gym then make sure there is one near to where you will be moving to. You may say at the beginning of the academic year that it’s fine and that you’ll make an effort to get there but after your first essays I doubt you’ll have the courage to really do it. The same for goes for the library. Make sure it’s close to where you’ll be living because it’s widely acknowledged that a place full of flatmates, noise and other distractions is not the best place on earth for concentration. So sometimes it’s preferable to go to a peaceful place to work.
Also, make sure that the house is not located in a dodgy area. It’s not very nice to travel in an unsafe area after a party or when it gets dark early in winter especially for girls.
The number of bathrooms can be a problem when people from the same course are sharing a house so be careful towards that, the shower can get busy very quickly. If you are somewhere with one bathroom it’s also advisable that it has a second toilet also. There’s nothing arriving home desperate for the loo only to discover the bathroom is occupied.
A washing machine is essential. In winter you don’t want to be walking for miles to find a decent laundrette. A tumble dryer is always a bonus but it isn’t the end of the world if there isn’t one, you’ll just have to hang your clothes up to dry.
Asking the landlord the following questions when viewing houses will help to avoid any bad surprises:
– How much is the rent and is it inclusive (gas, broadband, bills etc)?
– How long is the contract?
– What are the terms of the deposit?
– Who will have to pay if there are any technical problems (a water leak can be costly)?
Also make sure you check that any appliances provided work properly before moving in as some landlords have been known to provide faulty appliances only to blame the new tenants for the damage!
You can utilise the services of an agency to help you in finding your dream house (don’t dream too big though, don’t be a diva! You won’t find Beyonce’s villa with your student budget). Sometimes the agencies are just making money on the back of students although online property searches can allow you to deal directly with the landlords. Nevertheless, to avoid agency fees you can use some reliable websites such as:
To conclude, if you haven’t started yet it’s time to seriously take responsibility for your house hunt because if you don’t do so now, others will take the best houses and you won’t be left with a lot of choice.
Featured image from James Bowe