Choosing your university accommodation can be quite a daunting task if you have not been through the process before. There are a lot of factors to think about, and in this blog, we walk you through some of the things to consider before you take a tour of your potential new home. This way, you can make a well-rounded decision on where you will be living for the upcoming year.
Calculate your budget
Setting out your budget before looking at properties is highly recommended as renting a property is a long-term financial commitment and should be approached with caution. You must take both your incoming funds through loans and grants into consideration as well as your expenses.
This step in the process will allow you to streamline your search so you don’t view properties that are outside your budget, wasting time and potentially finding yourself with little options. Also, ensuring that the other members of your household are included in the budget discussion is vital so that the property chosen caters for everybody’s needs.
In order to calculate your budget, firstly figure out your cash total for the year, including loans, grants, part-time work and family support. Divide this number by 12 (the standard length of a student letting contract is 12 months) and subtract your expenses for food, travel, phone contracts, social life etc. This will leave you with the upper limit of what you can afford to spend monthly on rent.
Research the area
Though a property may seem ideal for you and your housemates, checking out the surrounding area is important to see whether it will be a good fit for you.
Consider taking a walk around the surrounding streets or virtually on Google Street View to see whether the area is well suited to your needs. If you are looking for a property in the hive of student activity, pay attention to any nearby pubs or restaurants. If you would prefer a quiet space to concentrate on your studies, you may be on the lookout for parks in close proximity.
You may be aware of people who have lived in the area previously, or currently; ask their thoughts, what they like and dislike, so you can gain an informed opinion. You can also check the crime levels of any postcode in the UK by visiting police.uk, an important factor to consider for you and your housemates' safety.
Wi-Fi is an amenity that is more important to students in 2021 than ever before. Checking internet providers availability in an area can be done through Google, and may be a deal-breaker for many students when choosing an area to live.
Viewing top tips
Ask for permission to take photos. If you have a number of viewings in the same day, it’s easy to confuse the different properties. Having photos means you can look back and check you haven’t missed anything.
Check for damp/mould
Damp and mould can potentially be harmful to your health, so when viewing properties, check for the signs of damp – particularly in the corners of rooms and dark spaces like under the stairs or fitted cupboards. Here are some common areas to check for damp and mould:
Note: Book viewings during daylight hours. Going in the daytime may highlight things you might otherwise miss under artificial light.
It’s important to check there is adequate fire safety equipment provided around the property, fire extinguishers and fire alarms should be accessible in all high-risk areas.
When viewing any kitchen appliances like refrigerators that are included in a tenancy agreement, you’ll want to double-check there’s enough space for everyone who will be living at the property. You should also check that instructions come with the appliances, so you’ll know exactly how the microwave works and ensure you don’t ruin your clothes in the washing machine!
Note: Double check what appliances are included in your tenancy agreement so you are prepared for moving day!
When viewing a property, you should look at the furnishings in each room and double check what’s included. You’ll want to make sure the property satisfies your individual needs as well as any housemates, if it is a shared home. You don’t want a sofa that’s too small!