Students Guide to “House Hunting”

Hey, Hi my lovelies! My name is Tanya Hooper and welcome to my blog TanyaTale. This is my little corner of the internet where I share, embarrassing stories, works of fiction, student advice and so much more. So, if chatty posts are you’re thing then this is the place for you and you should definitely subscribe. If you are returning to this blog welcome back.

Today we are delving back into the world of Student-hood as we talk a little about accommodation choices for second-year university students. So, if you are: thinking about moving into privately rented student houses; planning to stay in university accommodation; or un-decided, then this post might help you.

A little bit of background on me. I am a second-year university student. I spent my first year in student halls on campus and for the last 5 months have been living in a privately rented student house. Before university however, I worked in an estate agency and so have a basic understanding of both a student’s and estate agent’s point of view when it comes to moving.

This blog is going to be split up into parts. Part one is going to be on how to decide which type of accommodation to live in and Part 2 is going to be on looking for privately rented student houses. So, without further ado – lets get cracking.

Part 1

When it comes to deciding whether or not privately rented accommodation is for you, or if you are better off staying in university accommodation there are a few factors you should consider:

1)      Money – Is the rent cheaper in privately rented student houses (PRSH) or in University accommodation (UA)? Will living in PRSH save you from any other charges? (e.g. taxi’s onto or off of campus, cheaper supermarkets …) Do you spend more time on campus or in the town/ city where PRSH are? Where is it easier to get a job? Do you have to pay to do laundry in UA/ do PRSH have washing machines?

It may take some time, but I highly recommend working out the costs of living in UA vs. the cost of living in PRSH. I personally found that once I deducted the £20 I was spending on taxis each week, the £50 rent difference and the £10 laundry fee – I was saving nearly £80 a week! And that’s without the money I earnt getting a job.

2)      Convenience – which accommodation type is closer to where you spend most of your time?  Are the shops closer to PRSH or UA? Which type of accommodation has better transport links? (e.g. is there a bus stop at UA, are you closer to the train station in PRSH?) Where are your friends going to be? (e.g. will you feel alone in UA if all your friends are in PRSH and vica-versa?)

For me, my course has fewer contact hours than most. Whereas science-based subjects may have 16 contact hours each week, I have an average of 7. This meant that I was spending more time in town at the book shop, or bored and looking for something to do – than I spent on my university campus.

3)      Security – a benefit of living in student accommodation is that there is often a campus life team who are at your beckon call. So, if you get locked out, or something breaks, or if you have a problem with the people you are living with, or if other flats are exhibiting anti-social behaviour, there are people you can call 24 hours 7 days a week to help you. In privately rented student housing you don’t have this support. Yes, you have a landlord and the police ect. But they are not waiting for your call – just in case.

Personally, I didn’t have to use Campus life/ campus security much at all last year. I didn’t have a problem with my flatmates and none of the surrounding flats were unreasonable. However, this year the police have had to come out to deal with a faulty alarm – which campus security would have turned off and I went 2 weeks without an oven after mine broke and the Landlord failed to replace it.

Part 2

If you have decided to stay in University accommodation the process will be the same for you as last year, however if you are moving into Privately rented student housing then things may be a little different: to start with, you actually have to find your own house! My biggest suggestion is to start looking early, by which I mean November and December! That way you’ll get your pick of the best properties and you wont have to stress about it later on.

This can be both an exciting and overwhelming process but hopefully the steps and tips below will help guide you though any worries you may have.

1)      Decide who you are going to live with – this may feel like a lot of pressure so here are some tips on how to choose.

  1. Do you get along? – You don’t necessarily have to be friends with the people you are living with, you just have to get along. Some people prefer to live with acquaintances as living together can put a lot of strain on a friendship. However, I personally lived with friends in my second year and I found it great to have friends around!
  2. Do you have similar schedules – don’t mistake the word similar for the word the same. I don’t mean you have to eat, sleep, and have lectures at the same time. By this I just mean, do you all tend to go out on the same nights (to save yourself from being woken when drunk flatmates come home) or will you have people to walk to university with or talk to over dinner.
  3. How many people do you want to live with? – sometimes more can be merrier. But if you are a little on the shy side and don’t particularly want to live in a bustling house then smaller numbers are always an option. Make sure you feel comfortable because you will be living there for a year.
  4. Check out their house – If you are like me, mess can be an issue. And you don’t want to be cleaning up after your housemates. So be sure to check them out before you move in. See what state their rooms are like and chat with their current housemates about how tidy they are. Do they leave dirty dishes for weeks? Is that rotten avocado in the back of the fridge theirs?
  5. Do you all want to live in the same type of accommodation? – this is a problem I have personally experienced. 8 of us decided to move in together, however, we didn’t discuss our preferences. Which caused the group to split into a 6 and a 2. Make sure you and all the people you decide to live with are on the same page – to save yourself from any awkward conversations.

2)      Look for somewhere to live – moving into somewhere new may seem scary when there are hundreds of estate agencies pulling you left right and centre, so let me break this down a little more.

  1. Work out your criteria – Do you want a double bed or are you okay with a single? Does it have a washing machine or are you going to use a launderette? Do you want the bills to be paid by the landlord or are you happy to pay them? Which location do you want it in? How much are you willing to pay? Is there internet at the property or do you have to provide it? How many rooms do you want? Do you want parking?
  2. Check Zoopla – Zoopla is an online website which has a collection of properties from all the estate agencies in your area. You can filter down how many rooms and how much you are willing to pay, and Zoopla brings up all your potential houses. It will show you the location, the floor plan, photos of each room and even tell you if you have to pay bills yourself or if they’re included in the price.
  3. Talk to an estate agent – you can do this via email or going into the shop. Give them a list of your criteria and ask what they have got. It is their job to help you find a house or a flat and so don’t be scared to ask for help.

3)      View the properties – this is the fun bit. You get to go and snoop around houses in your area and see where other people have been living. But when you go here are my top tips …

  1. Check for mould in the bathrooms or anywhere else– if there is mould then there is probably poor ventilation.
  2. Is the house warm? – this sounds odd however, if you are viewing a property in the winter and it is cold then the property might have a poor energy rating (meaning your electricity will be more expensive) or the heating might be bad, and no one wants to live in a cold house.
  3. Are the heaters gas central heating or electric? – if you don’t know the difference, gas central is run on gas (and often work more efficiently and don’t use electricity) and electric heaters are run on electric (they’re often less efficient and cost more to run). If you can’t tell the difference, ask the person showing you around. They will be able to help you.
  4. Is there a hot tap or a storage heater? – in older houses there may be a storage heater in place of a hot tap. This will look like a box on the wall where the hot tap should be. If there are boilers or storage heater’s then you will have to wait for your hot water to boil as opposed to having instant hot water.
  5. Where is the internet port? – its 2018 … internet is important. Check where the internet is and if the house has a particular provider. You can often work out the quality of the internet by googling the provider. Also, if it is a large house and the port is on the bottom floor the WIFI on the top floor may not run as quick as if the port in on the middle floor.
  6. Check for plug sockets – this is simple. Check that there are enough plug sockets for everything you use. My current house had 4 per room, however if there are only 2 you may want to consider investing in an extension cable.
  7. Have the current tenants got photos on the walls or candles? – this is an odd one. But some landlords do not allow adhesives (such as blu-tac) on the walls in case it damages the paint work, and some may not allow candles. This may not be a make or break but it will impact how you plan out your room.
  8. Does it meet your criteria – be sure to look for somewhere you like and that meets the criteria you laid out earlier. Sometimes you may have to compromise so make sure you have your priorities in check.

4)      Make your decision on where to live. This is pretty straight forwards and so my only advice is making a pros and cons list and to take a vote. Democracy and logic are your best friends.

5)      Message the estate agent to tell them you are interested in taking the property and they will guide you through from here.

I hope this has been of some help to you. If it has please be sure to click the like button and to subscribe for more posts like this. Good Luck with your search, and if you think of any questions or tips don’t hesitate to drop a comment down below. Until next week!

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