Once you’ve handed in your last piece of coursework and closed your exam paper, the summer holidays go pretty fast. As a student, transitioning from college to university can be tough; one of the most important things to do is choose the right student accommodation.
Get it wrong, and you’ll end up stuck with flatmates you can’t stand for a year, hosting house parties and making studying a nightmare. Get it right, and you’ll have a home away from home and make friends who’ll be there through thick and thin, whatever uni throws your way.
Though the truth is that there’s no easy way to find the perfect student accommodation (you will need to scour the internet for weeks and view properties before signing up), there are a few pointers that we can give you to make life that little bit easier. Here they are…
Whether you’re choosing accommodation over the internet or you’re visiting flats and houses in person before September, it’s vital that you choose somewhere close to campus. Being able to walk to lectures on a morning not only cuts travel costs but allows you to have an extra half an hour in bed on a morning - which, trust us, you’re going to need as a student.
It’s not just proximity to your campus that you should think about. See how close you are to your nearest supermarket and leisure facilities like bars, restaurants and cinemas. If you’ve got to spend £6 on a taxi every time you want some bread and milk, you’ll struggle to get by.
Next up, it’s time to talk data. The chances are that you’ll be spending a lot of time in your bedroom studying for upcoming exams and chatting to your pals on FaceTime. If you’re only able to get 10mbps WiFi and your phone signal sucks, things are going to get pretty tense.
Use a service like USwitch to see what sort of broadband deals you can get in your student house, and check that your network is fast enough. You might decide to switch to a network like VOXI before you move to your new city so you can take advantage of faster speeds and 5G.
Unfortunately, student accommodation isn’t always located in the most desirable parts of town; but with the right security in place, that’s fine. We recommend visiting potential houses and apartments after dark so you can suss out the area. If it’s nice and quiet, you know that you will feel comfortable walking home after a night out. Lots of litter and deafening police sirens? You know it’s time to restart your search and find somewhere more appropriate.
You can also use the national website for policing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to track reported crime in your area. It’s important that you’re safe - speak to your potential landlord or letting agent and see what protocols they have in place; some student apartment blocks feature 24/7 security guards.
Though your bedroom will be the most important part of your student let, you shouldn’t forget about communal areas. Check out your living room, kitchen, shared bathroom and other areas like gyms and cinema rooms and make sure they’re in good condition. If you’re renting a house that’s dirty and outdated, you’ll never want to sit and socialise with your flatmates.
You should also speak to your landlord about maintenance and how often areas are cleaned and updated. Some student houses are refreshed every September with a new lick of paint and a carpet clean, which will make your new place feel more like home. Do some digging!
One of the most common complaints from students is customer service from their landlord or lettings agent. You need to know that, should something go wrong, you have someone at the end of the phone who is going to put things right. Have a chat with them when you view a property - or better yet, speak to an existing tenant about any issues they’ve had in the past.
A friendly, approachable lettings team will make a big difference in how comfortable you’ll feel when you move away from home, so choose a trusted and experienced team who aren’t going to let you down or charge over-the-odds for basic damage or repairs. Online reviews can also be useful, but remember most tenants will only leave a review if they’re disgruntled.
Whether you’re renting a private student apartment, moving into halls or renting a property, it is important to consider your flatmates. Ideally, your landlord should let you know who you’re going to be sharing with before you sign a tenancy. Arrange a Zoom conference to get to know each of your roomies before you move to ensure you’re comfortable with them.
Unfortunately, sharing a house can be a mixed bag, so cross your fingers and have a direct line to your lettings agent to complain about any tenant who doesn’t follow the guidelines. If you can find a friend who’ll rent with you, you know you’ll have at least one buddy who’ll be on your side. Oh, and don’t forget about bills: we recommend our student bills management service which will keep everything simple and straightforward. Rather than worrying about chasing flatmates for their share of the gas bill, everyone will be charged a monthly fee.
Do you have any questions about finding the right student accommodation? Reach out to the team at Billing Better and we’ll do our best to answer them. In the meantime, happy house hunting - ask questions, don’t make rash decisions, and enjoy! We wish you the best of luck.