Whether you’re a fresher or moving back to university for your second or third year, packing your life up and moving away is a stressful experience.
While deciding which pair of trainers to leave at home is one thing, deciding where to live for the year is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make all year.
While some (especially first years) will opt to go straight into student halls, there’s a host of other options out there for you.
We’re going to take a look at five top tips to make this stressful (but exciting) process that little bit easier for you.
Research your local market
A lot of people start to panic as early as November or December and worry that if they don’t act soon, all of the good houses will be gone.
While this might well be the case in certain places, it does all depend on the market where you’ll be studying.
We spoke to student accommodation providers Mighty Student Living, who said: “The fact is that many people panic and rush into sorting their accommodation and later find that they’re not totally happy, either with the property itself or their housemates.
“Make sure to ask your university’s accommodation team for help on this, as in some places, such as London, where things move very quickly, you can easily find somewhere as late as two to three weeks before you move in.”
Google is your friend
Obviously, visiting the town or city where you’re going to be living is ideal, but not always possible, especially if you’re going to be studying abroad, or in another part of the country.
If this is the case, we recommend doing as much research online as possible, to get a flavour for the various areas you might be living in.
In particular, we recommend Google Street View. This allows you to virtually explore the streets which you’ll be living in, and might either convince you that it is, or isn’t, the place for you.
Consider your housemates carefully
While the idea of living with some of your best mates may sound great, it’s not necessarily all that it’s cracked to be.
This is why we recommend waiting a little while into the university year before deciding for definite who you want to live with, before signing up for a house.
Living with fewer people, or perhaps opting to flatshare with some new people might be a good idea as you’ll still get to see all of your old friends, but you might make some new ones too!
For more information, check out this article from The Telegraph on some of the questions you should ask when deciding who to live with at university.
It’s always important to check how much you can be expected to pay for bills and utilities, as these often aren’t included in the advertised price and can be a nasty surprise.
You’ll need to consider heating, water, broadband, electric, phone, and any other costs when you’re looking for a property, and you might be best off trying to find a property with bills included.
Always be wary
Buying or renting property is always a big decision, even if it’s just a student flat or house.
As such, during the process, you should always be on your toes, making sure to be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true.
This is also why you should avoid websites such as Gumtree, as unfortunately, students are a prime target for scammers and will happily ask you for a deposit and then disappear off the face of the earth.
Make sure you always see a property and a legal contract before handing over any cash!