How to find your perfect student home
Heading to university can be a daunting prospect. The initial joy of winning a place on your dream course (congratulations on those exam results, by the way!) can soon be overwhelmed by worry about the life ahead – from concerns about meeting new people through to fears of academic stress and financial strains. To make matters worse, for many students, going to university means moving out of the family home for the first time.
Don’t panic! You’re going to have the time of your life. With a little thought and planning, and some expert advice and support, all those worries will disappear. Let’s start by finding you that perfect student home:
- Remember, it has to be “that perfect student home” for you, no one else. Yes, listen to the opinions of other people – for the first time in their lives, your parents might actually know what they are talking about – but it’s you who will be living in that house, possibly for several years. So when you go to view a property, if you know you won’t be comfortable there, say so. There are always other options.
- If you don’t trust your prospective landlord, act on those instincts. You are probably right. Look elsewhere.
- Take the time to inspect your potential future home thoroughly. Run taps. Flush toilets. Look inside kitchen cupboards and behind wardrobes. If the landlord says that stain on the wall is “just a damp patch – nothing to worry about”, you need to ask what other horrors you will discover only after you have signed a contract and moved in. Do you really want a landlord with such a cavalier attitude toward property maintenance? Your landlord should be accredited by your university and signed up to the university’s code of standards. Make sure the landlord undertakes regular health and fire safety checks on the building and screens all tradespeople through the UK government’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), ensuring you and your possessions are only ever alone with trustworthy people.
- Think about your housemates. He might be great fun in the pub but do you really want to share a bathroom with him every day?
- The reason ‘location, location, location’ is so often heard nowadays is simple – because it’s true. Walking an hour to campus on a sunny day might seem lovely when you first move into your new home. When you’re battling through the wind and rain every winter morning, you’ll wish you had found a house nearer the university.
- And if you drive, make sure you check the parking availability at the property, remembering your housemates might have cars too.
- If you can, talk to the current (or most recent) tenants. Who better to give you an honest insight into the practical realities of living in the house?
- When you have found the perfect accommodation for you, sign up. (Check with your friends first if you are acting for a group!) Good properties will always be in demand. But never, ever feel pressured to sign. Why is the landlord so desperate? And there are still many unscrupulous landlords who see students as naïve and stressed and therefore easy to manipulate into a hasty commitment. Don’t believe: “If you don’t sign now, you’ll lose out.” Better to lose that particular house than end up living miserable for the year ahead.
With a little planning, all your worries will soon be behind you. Sharing a student house can be one of the best experiences you will ever have, forging genuinely lifelong friendships. Go out and find that perfect home for you. And then relax. Enjoy. Maybe even do a little studying.