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When you’re heading off to university, choosing your accommodation is the first big decision you’ll be making independently (no pressure). Finding the right accommodation for you will take some research and a sharp eye. Here are the things you need to look out for when weighing up your choices...
What’s included in the rent
If you find somewhere with a low rent price, you’ll be thinking you’ve hit the accommodation jackpot – but don’t forget that a low cost per month usually means that bills aren’t included. If you’re living in halls, this isn’t something you’ll have to worry about, as the rent will usually come with bills and internet included.
But if you’re looking at private accommodation, don’t despair! Just check if bills are included in the rent, and if they’re not then make sure to ask how much they usually are per month. When it comes to WiFi in student houses, check that the connection will be decent enough to meet the needs of a household full of students/Netflixers.
Weighing up whether private accommodation is worth the extra costs? You can usually count on plenty of perks to justify the spend - which might even save you money in the long run.
State-of-the-art cinema rooms, modern gyms and game rooms are now routinely part of the offering that students can look forward to. Like halls, private accommodation providers also put an emphasis on creating a community feel for residents, and hosting plenty of events so you can get to know your neighbours.
T&Cs of your contract
No-one enjoys reading the small print in contracts, but an accommodation contract carries far more weight than the terms and conditions you would breeze through when downloading an app.
Make sure you familiarise yourself with the length of the contract, how much the deposit is, and if there's any clemency period for you to leave without breaking the contract if you decide that the accommodation isn’t right for you.
Looking at living in a shared house? Your contract should state if you’re all individually liable for missed bill payments or if the responsibility falls on the house as a whole.
When it comes to your deposit, make sure your landlord will be placing this in a deposit protection scheme and giving you all the necessary details of this.
Who you’ll be living with
You’ll probably be moving in with strangers rather than your friends, so you’ll want to make sure you know who you’ll be living with. In uni-owned and even some private halls, you can usually specify if you'd prefer to be in an all-female or all-male flat – something that's more difficult to arrange in a shared house.
Halls also tend to place people in the same year of study together, so, unless you got in through Clearing, chances are you’ll be living with other students who are in the same position as you.
What you’ll need to bring with you
Bringing everything but the kitchen sink is an easy mistake to make, leading to some students finding themselves in a kitchen that has more kettles and toasters than they know what to do with.
Whether you’re moving into halls or private accommodation, make sure to check what is already provided. You’ll find most student accommodation now comes with staples like kettles, toasters, and ironing boards already included.
No matter what type of accommodation you’ll be staying in, location is one of the most important things to consider. Sure, a cheap room away from the town centre looks good now but will it still look as good when you’re on an hour-long journey ahead of the much-dreaded 9am lecture? Maybe not.
Finding the perfect location has three ingredients:
- A reasonable price
- Proximity to uni and student essentials like shops and supermarkets
- A nearby GP
Before you sign your contract, make sure you research how safe the area is too. Student neighbourhoods are generally safe but it never hurts to check.
Viewing a property
Viewing a property is essential - especially if it's private accommodation. So, once you’ve narrowed down your accommodation choices usign the list above, organise a viewing.
When you're viewing make sure you check for important issues like security, damp and quality of fittings like the boiler, and any signs of pests.
If you do feel like you need some extra support in making a decision, don’t be afraid to get in touch with your university, especially if you’re going to be living in a different city. They’ll be able to recommend some local accommodation choices for you and help you out with any questions that you have.
Or ask a parent for their advice - they'll be more than happy to get involved with your search - after all, they want to make sure you're safe at uni.
Header image: Photo courtesy of the Unite Students Facebook page.
* This article was written with the help of The Student Housing Company, who offer stylish, secure and sociable student accommodation.