How to choose your student house

Second year is fast approaching. You realise that you need to find a place to live. Where do you even begin? Conscripting housemates? Finding a house? What about the rent?

There’s no doubt that finding a house is stressful. This article will go a long way in easing your mind.

Picking housemates

Choosing people to live with should always be the first thing you do. How many people you live with and who you live with could dictate everything else on this list. The more people you live with could mean the more fun you have. However, it could also mean more arguments and fights.

Remember that a good friend could be an absolute nightmare to live with. Choose wisely.

Location, location, location

When choosing a student house, you want to consider just where you’re going to live. Is it close to the university campus? How close? Walkable or do you need public transport? What’s the actual area like? Are the shops convenient to get to? Because it’s no fun walking five miles while carrying ten kilograms of shopping.

Is there a high crime rate? Does the area have a high student population? The Complete University Guide argues that most university cities have established student areas which would be the most logical place to move to.

Finally, you need to consider costs. Deciding where you live will dictate your rent.

How much is rent?

The area you choose to live in will say something about how much rent you have to pay. Student suburbs tend to be more expensive, as landlords know that students will pay the high costs. It might be cheaper for you to move further out of the city.

Something else to consider is the cost of bills. Some bills are included with the rent. Others may be separate. Either way, they’ll still take a sizeable chunk out of your student loan.  Choosing a house where bills are included is a stress-free way to live.

While we’re talking about money, it’ll be good to check how expensive your location is.  Are you able to shop at Waitrose or Morrisons? Just how much are the local takeaways? How much is a pint? Because who wants to pay a fiver for a pint? Nobody. That’s who.

Be prepared to be stressed

I don’t mean to scare you by saying this. I just want to manage your expectations. But picking a student house is going to be stressful. From selecting your housemates to actually looking for your house, it’s just one headache after another.

Once you’ve chosen your house, you’ll then have endless forms to fill out, guarantors to arrange and probably a substantial administration fee to pay. You can avoid this by dealing directly with a landlord, which carries its own inherent risks. Still, this is up to you.

Ask around about letting agencies before you choose one. Your friends can advise on the cheapest option. Once you’ve started liaising with one agency, you may find it difficult to disconnect with them and you may still have to pay the administration fee.

Consider all your options before choosing

The biggest piece of advice that I can offer is never pick the first house you see. Look through as many as possible before making your decision. Finally, don’t allow your agent to lead you around the house like a sheep. Decide what you need to see and dictate the tour yourself.

Come in there armed with questions and on the lookout for any signs of poor maintenance. Red flags include damp, mould and loose/exposed cables. You could also ask for a furnishing list and then you can check that everywhere is where it’s supposed to be. Keep an eye out for missing microwaves or broken beds.

It’s true that some of these faults may be the problem of the actual tenants rather than the landlords. One house I looked round when house-searching had mashed-up pizza in the sofa and vomit in the sink. But if an agency shows you around a home that’s closer to a dump than an actual abode, it doesn’t make them look very professional, does it?

The Telegraph warns that less reputable landlords might try to pull a fast one on you, as they think that you don’t have any other options. Well, you do. Don’t fall for their cheap tricks.

Now that you’re all wised up, good luck in finding your student house. And what to do once you’ve actually moved in? Well, that’s another article for another day.

Originally published on Inspiring Interns

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