Most first year students live in halls or studios within halls where your bills are included and you have a laundry room on site. When it comes to accommodation for second and final years, it can be a bit overwhelming. You suddenly get thrown into adult life and have to start renting a house and pay your own bills.
Not only that but you need to think about who you are going to live with, the location of the house and the type of house you want. I have come up with a complete guide to help you with your house searching including what to do before you start looking, what to do during your search and then finally what to do when you have found your house.
Before you start looking
There are a couple of things you need to do before you dive into looking for houses. Including knowing how many bedrooms you are looking for in a house. Of course if you want to have a little look around online to see the types of properties there are you can do this.
Finding your housemates
Finding people to live with is your first step and can also be the trickiest step. The most convenient thing to do would be to stay with your current flatmates (if you’re not living in a studio). But as we all know, not everyone gets on with their flat mates. So your other option is to find people through your course, societies or sports clubs.
Get onto the topic of housing with a few friends and see if they have any plans about it yet. If they have no idea, then offer them the idea of living with you. Sometimes you might find a friend whose got two others to lives with and you can team up with them. You just have to be a bit forward with it as you don’t want to be stuck with no one. The worst anyone can say is that they have already sorted their housing.
As soon as you get a group together you should start looking for houses asap so you have as much choice as possible. Of course, this will be easier in second year when you are trying to find a house for your final year.
Knowing when to start looking
Student houses are ready to have their forms signed as soon as the academic year starts. So if you are looking for a house ready for September 2022 then the earliest you can start looking is September 2021. Of course the best and cheapest houses will get taken first which is why you need to be on top of your game.
Most people suggest that you need to try and get your housing sorted before Christmas ready for the following September.
Things to know about student housing
You will most likely have to pay rent for 12 months of the year despite not being at university over the summer. Most houses or flats have 12-month tenancies unlike student halls where you can get them for 44 – 52 weeks.
You can mostly find houses with up to 12 people. You may even find some bigger houses with a few more rooms. But ideally, 4 to 6 people will give you the most choice when searching for houses.
It may be possible for you to keep the same house through second year and third year if you make sure you let the letting agent or landlord know in time. Of course it would help if your rent payments have been on time and you have kept the house the way you found it.
During the search
When you start searching for student houses there are a few things you should be keeping in mind.
Likes and dislikes
Firstly, when you start looking for houses make of list of peoples likes and dislikes. Some people might not want a bedroom on the ground floor. Someone might really want a garden and others might not be as fussed. Car parking spaces are also something to consider if someone brings their car to university.
It is all about compromise.
What to look out for
Location of the house is everything. You need to know how far the commute to university is, along with where you can do your food shopping. A lot of people forget about the location and just pick a house based on the inside. Then when they move in they realise it is a lot more effort to get into university for their lectures and they have to get ubers to the supermarket.
Look out for public transport about the houses like the tram or the bus as these will be able to help you make a more informed decision.
Where to find houses
There are a few different routes you can go down when trying to find your student house. These options are great if you are looking for houses/ flats or wanting to find another studio.
Look out for any house fairs at your university. This is where landlords who have many student properties have a stand where you can go and ask about their properties. If you find one that ticks all your boxes, then you may as well reserve it before it gets taken. Of course make sure you go for a viewing before you sign anything. The houses at the fair are also normally a little bit cheaper so it is worth taking a look.
Rightmove is the simple choice of finding a house. You can filter the options down based on bedroom and location which makes it super easy to find what you need. When you find the right house based on your requirements then book a viewing as soon as you can.
Sturents is a house search sight primarily for students.
Local estate agents
Whether you are in a city or a town (or you can walk into one) you should be able to find lots of local estate agents. Some will be general housing and some will be only student housing. The best thing to do would be to walk in and have a chat. Or book a chat if you need to do so. This way you can let them know everything you are looking for and they can contact you when they have something available.
Accommodation Facebook pages
This option is good if you are struggling to find flatmates. Go onto your university accommodation Facebook page (most universities have them). Then take a look to see if anyone is looking for a housemate. A lot of the time people have a group of 5 and have found an ideal house they want but it is a 6 bed. So they advertise to find a 6th house mate so they can get the house.
Property viewings and what to look for
The best thing to do is to create a word document of the houses you are looking at so you can see which ones you went for viewings at and which ones are at the top of your list.
When you are viewing your house try and ask any questions you have about the house such as bills, how the bins work or whether other students live on the street.
Take a look at the state of the house. A lot of student houses can be a bit old with their décor so if you want something a bit more modern you might have to look a bit further.
Found your house?
Once you have viewed your house, you like it and you have signed the papers you will have to [ay a deposit before you move in. You will get this deposit back at the end of the year providing you haven’t broken anything. Some student landlords can be very specific about the deposit so do make sure you leave the house the way you found it. Then all you have to do is wait till you can move in!
Some student houses are bills included, whereas some are not. If you have to pay your bills yourself, you will be paying for water, gas and/or electricity and Wi-Fi.
What you may need to do is contact your local council to get a student exemption for council tax. If you are a student living in a house full of other students, then you should not be paying for council tax. However, if you are a student living with other students then you will have to pay council tax but with a reduction.
When moving in, it might be a good idea to go at slightly different times to your other house mates so you aren’t all trying to move in at the same time. Having too many parents and family trying to help everyone move in might be a bit chaotic!
A nice thing to do when you have all moved in is to decorate your new house to make it a little bit homelier. Of course the student thing to do is to put up fairy lights everywhere!
You may also need to buy a little bit of furniture such as a bedside table. Most student houses come furnished but if you want a little bit more then try charity shops. There’s no point spending lots of money of a bedside table you will only use for a year.
It can be a bit overwhelming trying to find flatmates in time to start searching for houses. Try not to stress or get worried if you haven’t started looking before Christmas. If you are getting worried a good thing to do is to go back into halls again. You will most likely get put with people in your year again.
If you know you want to live in a house, then there will still be properties available up to the July right before you start in September. So if you make friends a little bit later and they haven’t sorted anything yet you can still look and sort somewhere after Christmas.
So good luck for your house search!