Moving away to university should be one of the most exciting times of your life, offering your first glimpse of independence and the chance to reinvent yourself and start over. But one of the most daunting things you need to face before you get started is finding the right student accommodation for your needs. Although some of the basics are obvious - proximity to your campus, price, and floor space - there are some other things you might overlook. Below, we have put together some of the elements you must consider when you’re viewing a property.
When you visit the property, use the Speed Test feature on Google to determine how fast your 4G or 5G speed is, and put the postcode into sites like Virgin Media and Sky to see what the average broadband speed is in the area. The last thing you want to do is to be cut off from your loved ones in a new city; superfast broadband is a must-have for any student.
Do you really want to have to queue for your morning poo? Speak to the lettings agent and understand how many people will have access to communal facilities like bathrooms and kitchens - the fewer, the better. If possible, opt for an apartment with your own en-suite bathroom; it might be more expensive, but it means you never have to worry about sharing a bathroom again. Who really wants to clean some stranger’s hair out of a blocked plughole?!
Although student accommodation is often located in city centres where noise and crime rates are higher than in other parts of the town, you should do some research and try to visit the area on an evening to get a feel for it. In other words: would you feel safe walking home to your student accommodation on an evening? Sites like Police.UK will show you whether you’re renting in an area that’s safe - if you’re not, it might be worth venturing further afield.
Whether you’re renting a student apartment from a private landlord or a lettings agency, it’s worth doing your own research to see whether they’re reputable. Granted, letting agents are more likely to receive negative reviews than positive ones (after all, when did you last give someone a five-star review?), but it can give you a feel for the way they deal with customer complaints and make sure you’re not renting from a dodgy provider. Asking current student tenants for their opinions can also be invaluable - don’t be afraid to knock on doors!
Finally, make sure you spend some time getting to grips with the tenancy agreement and ask if you’re not sure about anything. Sitting down with a friend or parent can ensure you’re not stung by any hidden clauses or charges that you’re likely to incur, such as early termination fees should you vacate the property early. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be.
Do you have any tips? Let us know and check back to the Billing Better blog soon.