It’s that time of year again - the days are getting shorter, the air's getting colder, and the panic about securing housing for the next academic year is setting in.
But never fear, dear students, Halloween is well and truly over and sorting out next year’s accommodation is not as scary as it seems. Here are some top tips for managing a relatively stress-free transition from one academic year’s housing to the next.
Don’t rush into it
If you're definitely sure about who you want to live with, where you want to live, and which kind of facilities you're after, then start booking house viewings straight away. However, for those still weighing up factors (which will be the majority, even if it doesn’t feel like it), make sure you choose people you can picture living with for a year. Additionally, consider the location of accommodation - look at available bus routes, local shops, etc.
Research the different options available
At some universities, the option of moving back into student halls is available, which is easier for those who want the all-inclusive package and close proximity of a student network. There’s also private accommodation, which offers a range of choices - one of the most common is renting a property with a group of fellow students. Here, it’s essential to rent from reputable estate agents or private landlords, so use your university’s accommodation vetting service, if there’s one available.
Know the nitty-gritty tasks for when you move in
Make sure you read over your tenancy agreement properly, ask as many questions as you can, and get your parents, or someone else you trust, to look over it, too. Get an inventory for the accommodation and check the condition of everything when you move in. Photograph anything damaged or dirty in case of any disputes with the landlord/estate agency at the end of your tenancy. Arranging contents insurance before you move is also wise - enquire whether it can be arranged alongside your parents'/family's policy, or independently sought out.
Budget for bills
The enemy of all students alike. If you’re in an all-inclusive property, this section can be ignored. However, for some students, there may be a cap on these ‘all-inclusive’ bills and a hefty surcharge if you go over the limit. So please make sure you obtain all the details beforehand on how the bills are set up. For those with bills paid separately to rent, find out who the current utility providers are, and if they aren’t offering the best deal at the moment, switch. Energy and utility providers are in constant competition for customers, so ensure you have the best deal possible for you and your housemates. Websites like savethestudent.org and Which? have comprehensive guides on energy suppliers. One possible way to sort out bills between housemates is by setting up a separate bank account. You simply pay in the required amount either weekly or monthly, then your lead tenant pays this directly to the provider.
Having your own independent space at university is one of the highlights for many university students. Film nights and group takeaways are also some of the best things about living in shared accommodation. Make the most of these years - they’re an experience like no other.