It’s the start of a new term and about time for students to start looking for next year’s accommodation. The search for private rented housing is daunting and finding somewhere decent can be tough on a student budget, but it is not impossible. With a little bit of organisation and street savvy, you too can be one of those smug students in the bright, spacious apartments slap bang on the uni bus route. Take note of these top tips from a recent graduate:
- Find a group of like-minded people. Decide how many people to share with based on the sizes of student properties in your area. Make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to budget, location and lifestyle (e.g. partying, cleanliness) and compare priorities (e.g. parking, double beds).
- Do your research. Find out the best time to start looking for accommodation at your uni and average rental prices. Also consider transport costs, utility bills and agency fees.
- Be prepared. Before you start viewing properties, make sure everyone has their deposit ready (inc. agency fees). If some members of your group cannot attend a viewing, agree in advance whether they are prepared for you to make a decision without them. For outstanding properties you will need to put down your deposit straight away. However, it is only worth the risk for somewhere really exceptional. Ideally all members of the group should view the house before anyone signs a contract.
- Be assertive. This applies when it comes to housemates and agents. If where you live is important to you, be a bit selfish and fight your corner. Better speak up now than begrudge your friends for all of second year because you’re not happy with the house. Agents will try and rush you. Spin whatever tale necessary to get them to hold the house while you get your crew on board. When I was looking for a house I told the agent the bus had broken down en route to the office to sign the contract… we were actually viewing another property.
- Don’t panic. You may miss out on a great property, you might disagree with your friends or change the group you’re looking with entirely, but with a bit of persistence you will find somewhere comfortable to call home next year. Good luck!