About this time last year, I was signing my house contract for the following academic year…the house I’m sat in currently in fact. I think it’s a relatively easy decision that, on entering, seems insurmountable. So, here are just a few tips for finding your new pad, that isn’t as terrible as everyone makes out.
1.Find Some Housemates:
Possibly the first, and hardest challenge, towards obtaining a new house or flat, is finding people to share it with. It’s worth pointing out that this should not be an impulsive decision. You need to think about your needs, as well as others. For example, I knew that I wanted to live with a small amount of people, as even with only four flat mates last year, I still felt a bit overwhelmed. With that in mind, I needed to find other people who were also happier sharing in smaller accommodation. Different people may want different types of accommodation for example, do you all want a flat or a house? Are you a tidy person? Perhaps you’ll be happiest with people who are also tidy/clean like yourself. And perhaps most importantly, think about your compatibility; I’m a rather quiet person, who isn’t one for going out on nights out, so, for me, having a lot of housemates who were party-goers was never really an option. And of course, if you just don’t find people you’re really comfortable living with, there’s nothing wrong with a studio flat; this does not make you lonely, it may just suit you better. You can always have visitors, if you aren’t sharing with a particular friend or live alone!
2. Picking a Location:
Now obviously this varies from university to university, but there’s always a few things to consider. Living in Oadby Student Village made me realise that I wanted to be within a short walking distance to university. Although that’s usually a priority for most students, there’s also other distance factors to consider; for example, are you close to amenities, such as a post office/post box, a corner shop, a supermarket? Thinking about crime rate is also important, as much as it’s not nice to think about, but student houses are often a target for thieves, so having a look at crime rates, through your local council, is always a good idea. Look around at different areas, think about what size of house you want; you might struggle to get a house in a city centre, so if a house is your choice, maybe look elsewhere for instance.
3. Finding a Lettings Company:
This isn’t necessarily an essential step, but it can be quite useful, when looking into pricing, and particular type of houses or areas you’re looking at. There’s usually at least a handful of student lettings agents companies in the surroundings areas of your university, so shop around. Ask other students, or even just google the different companies to find out what they’re like, what sort of properties they offer, and whether they’re particularly hot on fixing maintenance issues (it’s a student house, chances are it’ll need some TLC now and again). It’s also worth researching price brackets for similar properties, rented by different agents, as well as whether they offer a good deal on the ‘all bills included’ clause. Finding an agency you’re happy with is equally useful, when house hunting, as you’ll often be shown round the properties by the same person, meaning, over time, you’ll more likely feel more confident about asking questions!
4. Choosing Your Pad:
There’s only one main piece of advice for this one; go and see the properties! The more properties, the more likely you are to find something that truly suits you. Try and make sure all of your new housemates are present for the viewings; make the decision together, and of course ask as many questions as you can whilst a lettings agent is showing you round. Think logically about how the properties works for you all, and whether you’d hit any issues. For example, because I only live with one other person , we found that a lot of two-beds didn’t have an upstairs bathroom, rather a tiny shower room at the end of the kitchen, so naturally when we were shown a property with a nice bathroom , not only upstairs, but also with an actual bath, we were very pleased!
Have a look around for obvious maintenance issues, not snooping high and low of course, but you can normally tell quite quickly if a house is suffering with a damp problem, for example, which you can raise with the lettings agent. However, most importantly, be open minded! Student houses usually aren’t as perfect as the home you share with your family, there may be a few marks on the carpet and slightly mismatched furniture, you just need to use a little imagination. Also, if someone is currently renting the property, try and look passed their choices of decor or level of cleanliness, when you move in you can make it your own, and potentially it could look entirely different.
5. The Final Step:
Signing the contract and paying your deposit; please, if nothing else, just read your contract, I don’t think I need to explain why. Pay your deposit and ta-dah you’re sorted for next year!
So there we go, hopefully some of you have found my advice helpful, and will be using it to great effect. Don’t hesitate to comment down below if you have any other questions, or maybe you have your own house hunting tip you’d like to share.
Take Care Everyone, I’ll Speak to You All Soon!