I want to take a closer look at the alternatives to hostel accommodation – moving into privately-owned student accommodation – because it is something most students experience at some time.
Finding student accommodation can at first be a daunting prospect but if you are lucky your university may offer guidance and assistance in shorting this out.
Personally I discovered that my university maintained a database of available properties in the area and kept in regular contacts with local landlords. As a result they were able to print me out a list of accommodation of the size I was looking for and that as far as they were aware fitted into my budget.
Then it was simply a matter of making some phone calls, arranging some viewings and making some decisions.
It all sounds simple enough but there are a number of things you need to bear in mind when it comes to choosing your first student digs and I hope to be able to offer you some accommodation tips of what to consider in the hope of making the whole process run smoothly for you.
What deposit is required by the landlord? The lower the deposit the easier it will be for you so get this out of the way early on and work out if that sum is feasible. Also check how long after you move out it will take for you to get it back.
Who pays for utilities such as water, gas and property taxes? Some landlords will lump this into the rental cost and this can make budgeting far easier. Also check whether you are allowed to change the phone number of the property because otherwise you might gets calls for previous students, while some landlords don’t like the numbers changed. If you are renting in a group consider how you will split the bills, who will manage the finances and whose name all the utility accounts will go in.
Ease Of Access
Is the accommodation close to the university? If not, how will you get there, and what are the associated costs? Just as importantly, do you have shops and bars close by or will you be constantly heading over to the other side of town? Is there enough space that your parents can park and help you move in safely or will you be carrying boxes up the road for miles?
Not only the costs, but also check that there is heating. Much student accommodation has pretty poor heating – also check that there are no signs of damp, mold or creaky windows that may let in moisture or cold.
Try to visit at two different times to see how noisy it is. The last thing you want when you are studying hard for an exam is a neighbor who has a stereo on full blast all the time or someone who has constant late night parties that keep you awake. Equally – if you are considering being a party animal – are there older neighbors around that you may annoy and therefore may complain about you?
How long is the rental period for, and how often do you pay rent? In halls of residence you often pay for a term or semester up front but in many privately-owned digs you will be expected to pay your rent weekly or monthly. How should you pay?
Finally, what happens during vacations? For example if you move in somewhere and like it enough that you want to stay the following year, do you have to move all your stuff out over the summer or can you leave it there? Equally, do you have to pay full rent when you’re not there over Christmas or at Spring Break?
Consider these student accommodation factors before you sign any paperwork and you’ll be in the ideal situation to make the most of your time at uni.