Sorry everyone, I haven’t had a lot of time to post much recently (see my last post and you’ll understand why.) Essays all done for the time being, I thought it might be handy ]to talk about student housing for second and third years. I have learned so much in this year living off campus that I probably could have done with knowing so this may actually help some of you. Luckily, I’ve found a gorgeous house for my final year- lets hope I haven’t got any nasty surprises then!
Estate Agents are a guaranteed nightmare for students and lets face it, they probably don’t like us much either. I’ll warn you now, they’ll charge you a horrendous amount for a deposit (mine was £400) on top of that they may also charge you ‘administration fees’, mine ridiculously was £200- not forgetting also a check in and out of the house fee. So basically alongside the sky high student rent they will also rob you of any student loan you may have left in the Easter Term. However, this year I have learned I found an estate agent who didn’t ask for a deposit and I only had to pay £250 in admin fees which compared to last year is a bargain! My advice to you is shop around, go to your Uni housing fairs and maybe even find a private landlord who will no doubt probably be better than most estate agents.
Bills, Bills, Bills are a new thing for most students moving into their house for the first time, Fresher year is no problem the Uni takes care of it and at home its our parents job right?! So when a water bill arrives on your mat do not be shocked, they exist and they want money ASAP. But for students there is such a thing as a bills package. Companies such as Glide and Split the Bills for a set monthly fee will control and pay all of your bills for you without you ever having to get one of those nasty envelopes through the door. Sounds like a dream right? Yeah think again, they have ‘fair usage’ policies and they are not happy bunnies if you go way over what they think you should. It is a much cheaper option, even though it might be a hassle, to just organise your own bills that way you’re paying for exactly what you use rather than like me paying £50 a month for gas, electricity, water and wifi- when we won’t be using any gas in the summer and our wifi is slower than a lecture without a powerpoint (student struggles.)
Housemates remember you’re going to be living with these people for the next academic year so make sure they’re people you actually want to live with all the time. So if you’re tidy and they’re basically living out of a bin bag it may not be the brightest idea to live together. It may be the sweetest of friendships in student halls but once you start arguing over the state of the kitchen and who left the lights on all night, running up the electricity bill, you will not be impressed at all. Choose wisely and you’ll have a great year. Choose badly and you could end up rather grumpy paying a fortune for a house you hate living in (cue the ‘I’m running away and booking my trip home on the trainline strop’)
Location really is essential in second and third year because you’ll need to be at Uni a lot, even though you might only have around 6 contact hours a week the library will become your second home so you won’t want to have to walk 5 miles to and from home to get there everyday. I live around a 20 minute walk from my campus with a bus if I’m feeling super lazy which I think is just about right. So when you’re house hunting set yourself some limits of where you can and can’t live, look at bus routes and footpaths for shortcuts to the Uni and it’ll make the search a lot easier I promise! Websites like Rightmove.com actually let you set the boundaries online then show you available student properties which is super handy!
Hidden Costs you don’t really think of these until you actually have to pay them- for example house insurance- Endsleigh actually do a great policy especially tailored for students so its worth looking with them but other insurers are also great- remember you need property and contents to protect yours and your landlords stuff. Council Tax, don’t panic, students are exempt from council tax (thank god) but you have to make sure you apply for your exemption on your Local Council website otherwise you may actually get a nasty bill through your door.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T I couldn’t help myself I’m sorry. The best advice I can give anyone going into a student house is even if it is awful and messy, make sure you look after the house and avoid trying to break anything, mark walls ect. because at the end of the day it will come out of your deposit when you move out and it is not worth the fuss, you’ve already paid thousands in rent so just try and keep games of indoor swing-ball to a minimum or take it outside…
Lets go shopping? My final words of wisdom on this matter will be to shop around for houses, book lots of viewings and don’t rush into a house just because you love the look of the wallpaper. Make sure you look around, take note of anything like mould (Yuck, but happens a lot in cheap student houses) and windows that aren’t properly sealed because the windows especially will burn money on heating. You have to make sure everyone you’re living with is happy with the house, so don’t feel pressured just because everyone else likes it loads more than you do. Talk it through and make sure you’re all agreed because overall you all have to pay rent for the next year so it may as well be a happy and hopefully healthy (mould free) place to live!
I hope that will of helped some of you, I know it can be a super stressful process especially when it feels like you’re in charge, I was ‘lead tenant’ so the estate agent came to me with all their questions (not fun.) Any questions or queries let me know!