So, you need to find somewhere to live for your next year of study? Finding the perfect house (and flat mates) can be hard, but it's an important decision to make as it can have a real impact on how much you enjoy the next year of your life. Here is a list of helpful things to consider when looking for your next home away from home.
Picking the right housemates
Pick your housemates wisely (I cannot stress this enough!!). Make sure you really know the people who you are choosing to live with, not everyone shows their true colours at the off. You want to live with people who share the same values as you – there's nothing worse than living with people who don't want to maintain the same level as cleanliness as you (trust me). Your fellow housemates should be reliable and respectful. You want to live with people who will be considerate towards yourself and others. Don't just agree to live with people because it's convenient because it really can come back to bite you.
Attend your university accommodation fair (if provided)
A lot of universities have started to organise accommodation fairs to help students find the perfect place to live. The fair is an opportunity for you to arrange viewings and pick up information on matters such as gas safety, home and personal security, budgeting and legal advice, insurance and lots more. You can usually find out more information about these fairs via your students' union Facebook page.
Use a recommended letting agency/agent
Most student orientated areas will have an array of student letting agencies or agents. Try to use a well-known company or agent that is endorsed by your student union as they will be less likely to give you trouble in the long run. The University of Chester recommend students only search for houses via the Chester Student Stamp website. Most students' unions also offer an advice service on contracts, and your rights as a student when signing a contract, which can be helpful if you're not sure where you stand.
Create a checklist of things you would ideally like to find in a house/flat
Once you have found your perfect roommates and letting agency/agent, it is time to find the perfect house. Create a list with your prospective housemates of things you want to find in your next house, and determine how much people are willing to pay. Finding a house with all-inclusive bills can often be a lot easier, but doing the bills yourself can sometimes be cheaper – just make sure you're certain everyone will pay you on time. This is also a great time to work out who would be willing to take a smaller room for less money or who wouldn’t mind paying more for a bigger room.
If Phil and Kirstie have taught me anything, it's all about location, location, location. You want to make sure you find a house which is in close proximity to all the necessities. Living nearer to the hot spots on a night out may seem like to a good idea but you'll probably regret that decision when all you can hear is drunken people singing outside your window, night in and night out. You'll definitely appreciate being closer to the university campus when those 9AMs roll around on a Monday morning (talk about priorities).
Don't be afraid to ask questions during you viewing
Make sure you get the most out of your viewings by asking lots of questions. Key things to ask about are safety regulations, repairs and parking. If you bear these tips in mind you'll be sure you find your perfect home for the new academic year. Houses are so much nicer than halls of residence and you can really make them feel like home – just remember to take the time to find the best housemates and property for you, so you can really enjoy your university experience!
Eileanor is in her third year studying English Language at the University of Chester.
Note: 'Student Blog' pieces highlight the student perspective on issues relating to ProtectED. Consequently, this article reflects the views of the author and not ProtectED.