Where to start looking
The first part is always the hardest; whether you’re a returning student or a fresher you’ll probably find yourself in the last minute rush to find a room. Now most of the time freshers will go into halls but not in every-case. My university only had a small number of student rooms available and who got those rooms were the students who lived furthest away, which leaves the one’s who live a little closer looking to private housing. Private Housing is not as daunting as it feels, there’s plenty of houses and other students who will be looking for housemates just like you! Most university’s – especially one’s with a lack of student room’s – tend to have housing lists where you can register yourself with your details for other students to find you – and possibly form a group to go house hunting – and also list’s of rooms or houses available to rent for students approved by the university themselves. Apart from this, you can always check housing websites like the following : Student Spare Room, Spare Room & Gumtree.
take a parent/guardian
When viewing your first university home I would always say take a parent/guardian or knowledgeable adult with you, just because they know what they are doing as they have done it before. I’ve viewed houses with and without my mum and I can tell you know I feel so much more relaxed and comfortable with my mum around. You’ll also find that they know exactly what questions to ask and you won’t have agents take advantage of your lack of knowledge and age where they end up hounding you with their pressurising talk – I’ve had this before and I just couldn’t handle it -.
look at the details
Whilst viewing a property make sure you take plenty of pictures, ask questions, write furiously in your mini notepad and look closely at the details. Whether it be questioning one toilet between five people, or the damp creeping up in the corner behind the bed – yes this has happened in a house viewing – you want to make sure no stone is unturned. Make sure you look at every aspect of the house including the mattress, the floor, and note down any possible problems you come across so you can not these down in an inventory at the start of the year instead of being charged £££ at the end of your tenancy for something you didn’t even cause.
Depending on whether you go through an agent or through the landlord directly will change whether you possibly have to pay extra money, agency fees can easily total up and become twice the rent you expected to pay ,making a room go from affordable to ‘outta my league’ in seconds. Agencies will normally expect a fee for providing a guarantor – normally a parent or guardian – , fee’s for taking the property of the market and then general agency fees. However, if you are going through a landlord you will only need to pay a deposit, sometimes the first month of rent up front and your monthly bills – although sometimes these will be inclusive in your rent -. If you are paying bills separately then you will need to check out offers online and get the best deal.
A good start to finding housemates is to get chatting to a few different people to find out their interests and meet up with them a few times to get an idea of their character and see if you gel nicely with them, alternatively you could just find a room with occupants already in the house – meaning you don’t get to choose who you live with – . I’m going to be totally honest here; a lot of people will say ‘my housemates became my best friends it was amazing living with them’ which does sometimes happen, however, the opposite can happen too, whether it be a small disagreement every so often or just not getting along with housemates at all. I haven’t had the most positive experiences with having housemates, it’s not all flowers and sunshine for everyone. Whether you’ve never met them before, met them once or twice or are already friends with them doesn’t guarantee you’ll be besties by the end of the year but ya’ know maybe you’ll make a friend for life. I’ve seen situations where people would have been better off staying friends at university rather than becoming housemates and ruining a friendship but I’ve also seen people move in other students they don’t know and got on absolutely fine. Whatever your experience of living with other people is, whether it be positive and negative it will give you life lessons and experience to take on into later life.