Moving away from your family home, moving out of your halls, or even moving into your 3rd or 4th year house can seem like a daunting experience. This may be the first time you have had the opportunity to choose where you want to live and who you want to live with, or you may be looking to learn from the mistakes you’ve made in the past. There may be endless options available and knowing where to begin may seem confusing. Some factors are more important than others, but here are five things to think about before making any decisions:
The most important thing is to be realistic! Finding the fanciest house available might be your dream but there would be nothing worse than getting halfway through the tenancy and struggling to afford the rent. You certainly don’t want the entirety of your income to go on rent if it can be helped.
Once you know how much student finance you will be receiving (as well as any additional income from a part time job etc.), work out a realistic monthly budget and decide on the target amount you’d like to spend on rent. Also, work out a maximum amount that you would consider a ‘worst-case scenario’, but you could make work if needed. Then shop around, see which properties you could rent for that price. You may be surprised at the variety available.
Likewise, if you’re looking for a house as a group, make sure you are honest with each other. Some friends may be able to afford more while others may be working with a smaller budget. Be open and discuss how much you can all afford to spend. And don’t forget bills - some properties don’t include bills in their rent, so you’ll need to factor those in too!
How many people would you like to live with? The idea of living in a house of nine may seem like fun – or it may terrify you. A larger household comes with its perks, they can work out cheaper (per person) and the chances of being home alone are slim - but there can be downfalls too. There’s the possibility of a noisier household and of course less fridge space!
It’s not just the size of the household but also the size of the property itself. If you are hoping to live in a smaller group, you would have the choice of both a house or flat, while bigger houses may be few and far between; it is very dependent on the area.
Create a list of what the most important features in your search are. For example, for me having a home with similar sized bedrooms is very important, I’d rather not eat my dinner on my lap so I would like a dining table and I also enjoy having a bit of outside space if possible.
Unless you choose to live alone, you will be sharing your house with others. This will likely be people on your course, from societies or from your 1st year hall; in any case, make sure you choose the right people. Living with your closest group of friends can be the best fun, however, it’s also a good idea to live with likeminded people with similar living habits. For example, if you enjoy a neat and tidy environment then you may get annoyed living with someone who doesn’t consider washing up to be an important part of the day. It is not worth falling out with your friends over bin duty!
If you’re lucky enough to live in a large town or city you may have a variety of locations to choose from. If your university is spread across multiple campus’ then you may have many options available to you. For example, would you like to live closer to your university building? If you hate getting up in the morning, living closer to your place of study could be ideal as you can get those vital extra minutes in bed. Or you may prefer the distance, so it doesn’t always feel like you’re in university.
You may need to consider how you would get from home to university. If your commute involves public transport, take into consideration any extra expenses.
Most importantly, be sure to choose somewhere you feel safe!