Choosing your new home from home in university is a big decision – where you live and who you live with will have a massive bearing on your quality of life and overall experience during your time studying.
The consequences of getting this wrong are very real: from a lack of sleep due to living with a party animal to a lack of personal space, to living with unrequited love, to getting food poisoning because no one wants to clean the kitchen! The wrong choice now can affect more than just your grades!
To get it right, it is a decision that demands an element of forethought – and having the right information to hand. At Studentdigz, we are here to help as you navigate the difficult decision of accommodation. Here are five pieces of key ideas and advice for finding the best option for you.
- Party animals or bookworms: find the right housemates for you
If you’ve already been studying at university, and maybe living in student halls, then you’re likely to have already met a load of different classmates, friends, teammates, study partners and general acquaintances.
After the first few months of the term, friendship groups blossom, but the key is to start early. Begin to check other people’s accommodation plans as soon as you can to avoid being left out. Even better, take the initiative early and approach people you want to live with to start to pull the right group together.
It is important to consider all aspects of how people live and their interests. Partnering a bookworm from your study group with a party animal from your sports team (as much as you might like them both) probably won’t work. You need to consider how you want to live and what sort of housemates you want.
If you have not started uni yet and you’re just moving to the area, the process is harder but the digital age is there to help. Student message boards and Facebook groups are a great idea to meet people also looking for housemates. But still try and get a sense of what people are interested in and like before making a decision.
TOP TIP: Partying is great, but it can be nice to have a quiet and peaceful home to return to. It can be better to visit a house full of party animals than live with them! Plus, there aren’t too many properties for groups of 11 – be realistic in the number of people you want to live with.
ALWAYS AVOID: Trying to live with someone you fancy! It might seem like the perfect scenario but unless you get together – and stay together – it can also go horribly wrong!
- Location, location – and a hot tub please - decide what’s important to you
Once you’ve selected your housemates, get them together and discuss your budget and other preferences and key requirements in detail. Make sure everyone’s views are at least considered and make a wish list of what you ideally want in order of importance.
Your main considerations will likely be: budget, location and size. However, there could be other important factors for some of you such as a garden, accessibility (if one of you has a disability) and things like shared toilet facilities.
Get a list together with your new housemates so everyone feels included in the decision. This can then speed your search and avoid arguments – potentially giving you a head start on other students that are not so organised.
TOP TIP: Swansea has some great accommodation and some great deals – but they will be snapped up by students that start looking first. Get out of the blocks early and speak to us!
ALWAYS AVOID: Getting taken in by the general appeal of some properties, which may look amazing, if their location will not meet your needs. An expensive taxi home will start to grate if you are a very social person out every night. Check the journey time and transport options for all properties you consider.
- Marks out of 10: start your search for a dream home!
So, you have your housemates agreed and your wish list is written down. You know how many bedrooms you’ll need, what your main requirements are, and a budget has been set. You can now start searching for your perfect student home.
Using our bespoke search function here at Studentdigz, you can show results for maximum price, number of bedrooms and location to narrow down your options. This will allow you to collect a list of the most suitable properties based on everyone’s preferences, then start to arrange your viewings.
But don’t be shy to also speak to our advisers in person. They know the properties and the local area intimately and will be able to advise on any questions you have. Whatever you question or worry, just pick up the phone.
TOP TIP: Start a spreadsheet on which you score each property against your criteria – and get each would be housemate to do it. This will help keep track of the large quantity of information you may end up with and narrow down your preferences for viewings.
ALWAYS AVOID: Create a short list and stick to the criteria you agreed when searching for a property. It can be tempting to start to change your wish list as you go along but this can just confuse matters.
- Get ready for a day out: get together, book some viewings
Once you have created a short list of properties where you might like to live, get the gang together and do some viewings. All our properties have a Book a Viewing button on the website so you can get a better look at the properties, which is always recommended before making a final decision.
But be organised. Make a note of important dates/times and check how to travel to the properties to make sure you don’t miss your appointments. This is also a great opportunity to ask any important questions that you have been wondering about, so make a list before you go.
TOP TIP: Be super organised and score the properties out of 10 just after you leave, getting input from the rest of your housemates. Also, note down any important details. This will help you remember things clearly and make a final decision – go debate it in the pub and let us know!
ALWAYS AVOID: Being late for the viewing. It could mean missing it completely and, such is the competition for the best properties, you could miss out to another group that attended their viewing on time!
- Have a debate: and consider everything
After taking a closer look at the properties, you will have a much better idea of which ones you can imagine living in for the next year. But it’s important to consider everything about each property before making big decisions. Recheck and debate details such as: the size of the beds, bedrooms and communal spaces; the location and resulting travel time to key places; whether bills are included and how much these might be; if there is parking, if needed; and the amount of the deposit and any cancellation fees. Reading through the information available on our FAQs will help you understand more about some of these details.
TOP TIP: Consider how you will decide who will get which room in the house. A common way of doing it is to draw straws but that is unhelpful if someone with a disability ends up upstairs or someone in a long-term relationship gets a single bed!
ALWAYS AVOID: Committing to a property before everyone in the group has agreed. If it turns out someone cannot afford it or feels it is unsuitable, you could be left trying to find a replacement housemate or covering the cost of an empty room!
If you follow this checklist, you should be able to narrow down your options to one or two of the most suitable - and then it’s time to take the step and confirm your accommodation! Exciting times!
If you have any queries about the process, get in touch and one of our friendly team can talk you through the details. All the best on your house search!