At the beginning of each academic year thousands of students across the country start looking for new accommodation. Competition for a place in a shared house or in on-campus student halls is often fierce and it’s highly recommendable to start searching for proper student accommodation as soon as possible.
Finding adequate housing is anything but a simple task. There are various issues you have to consider before choosing a room and closing a contract. In this post we will provide you with some basic orientation through the whole “accommodation research process” and supply you with helpful tips.
Where do you want to live?
Before you start searching for a room, you should bear in mind that you can often choose between different kinds of student accommodation. You could move into a shared house with some friends of yours or decide to move into a larger, fully accommodated on-campus student hall. Or you might even opt for your very own flat or studio.
Each type of student housing comes with certain advantages and disadvantages. It’s your personal preferences and needs (as well as your budget) that should determine your final choice. Here’s a brief overview of the most popular forms of student housing:
This is probably the most popular type of student accommodation. It gives you a lot of freedom but also comes with certain responsibilities. You have to take care of all bills, keep the place tidy, and fill the fridge yourself. In return, you’re your own boss and you can enjoy an independent life with your own roof over your head. Though some may indeed decide to move into a single flat, many students choose to live in shared houses. This enables them to reduce some of the costs (rent, gas, electricity) as well as to share a tenant’s regular responsibilities. Moreover, it can be a lot of fun to move in with a couple of good friends. However, shared living also requires some talent in “social coordination” and “housemate diplomacy”, in order to avoid disputes and conflicts (e.g. on who’s next in Iine for cleaning the bathroom).
On-Campus Housing/Halls of Residence
Another common choice is moving into an on-campus student hall. They often have one big advantage: Most student halls are located either directly on campus premises or in very close proximity. The sizes of available rooms can vary significantly but you will mostly have to share it with one or more other students. The same applies to bathrooms, kitchens, common rooms, and laundry facilities. Some halls might incorporate canteens that serve meals, while in others you have to cook for yourself. There are often separate on-campus halls for under- and postgraduate students.
Private Student Halls
These facilities basically provide the same services as on-campus halls but are held by a private owner. Most closely collaborate with local universities and colleges. However, the types of rooms and facilities they offer can vary considerably: Some are little different from regular on-campus halls and have study bedrooms, shared bathrooms, shared kitchens etc. Others might offer individual student apartments and include gaming rooms, sports facilities, private parking lots and more.
Finding a new room – with the right online platform!
The next important step is finding the right platform for searching available properties. Students can choose from a diverse set of sources for student housing: Personal contacts, newspaper listings, and the Internet.
Especially websites have become the first choice for most students, as they promise to provide up-to-date lists that are easily accessible. However, the countless online platforms vary significantly in terms of their quality, usability, and service. For instance, the majority of student accommodation sites are not focusing on a particular region but try to cover the whole of the UK. Naturally, they cannot include all available properties on a local level. Moreover, almost anybody can put an offer online –there rarely is any control of a property’s quality and the landlord’s reliability.
Studentpad’s localised online databases were created with these issues in mind. They can save you a lot of time and spare you a lot of stress. After all, they only list available student accommodation in your particular region –provided by landlords who have been officially approved by your university’s or college’s housing office. Additionally, our system provides you with a personal student account that allows you to manage the whole letting process quick and easy: from arranging the first viewing, through the closing of a contract to the point where you move out again.
Check the details!
Once you’ve found a room that matches your personal needs, it’s time for a first viewing. There are various things that you should inspect in closer detail: In what condition is the property? Are there any damages? Is it “mould-free”? Then there’s a range of important questions that you need to discuss with the landlord. These should address aspects like payment procedures, deposits, licensing, and handling of utility bills. Our Studentpad checklist covers all of these aspects and more.
It is also crucial to pay attention to each and every detail when it comes to closing a contract. It should only confirm what you’ve already discussed with the landlord beforehand and not include some hidden, unpleasant surprises. Every aspect of the tenancy agreement and legal obligations of both parties should be stated in a clear, understandable language. In doubt, it is recommendable to ask for a copy of the contract and getting it checked by your Student Union’s Advice Centre or another informed person before signing it.
Manage your Budget!
Rents, utility bills, food, TV licenses –all of this can accumulate to quite an amount of money each month. In order to spare you sleepless nights and an empty stomach, you should always keep a close eye on your expenses and manage your budget accordingly.
You can also try to apply for a loan or scholarship. Just ask your university and/or faculty for funding opportunities.
Studying in a safe and modern place
The most important thing is that you find and secure a place where you can feel both safe and relaxed. After all, the right environment allows you to focus on your studies and to enjoy your student experience to the fullest. Your student accommodation is an integral part of this.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of our new Studentpad website a well. It provides you with a lot more info on our platforms and explains how Studentpad will help you finding the right place to stay quick and easy. Our housing guide gives you some basic insights into the whole renting process –from the first viewing, through the closing of a contract to the end of your tenancy (including all your RIGHTS and OBLIGATIONS as a tenant).