There’s still plenty of time to bag a room in halls (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Choosing the right accommodation can seem overwhelming, particularly if you’ve left it to the last minute or your plans have changed and you’ve found your course through Clearing.
Here’s how to go about it.
As soon as you’ve accepted an offer, contact your university’s accommodation office to find out what’s available, and consider what would suit you best.
‘Don’t panic as you’ll always find somewhere to live, and there’s lots of help out there if you need it,’ says Simon Thompson, managing director of accommodationforstudents.com (AFS).
Price and distance to the university are the most important factors to bear in mind, but also consider who you’ll be sharing with, whether you prefer bills such as electricity and broadband to be included, on-site facilities and how far you’ll be from shops and nightlife.
The main types of student housing are halls of residence, private halls and private rentals.
University-owned and run halls are usually on or near the campus, and are a popular choice with freshers as there’s a flat fee and a social life on tap.
Living in halls usually means sharing a kitchen and bathroom with other students (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
‘Typically you’ll have your own room with a study area and share a kitchen and bathroom, though some halls have en-suites and even provide meals,’ says Simon.
Check out the different halls on the university’s website but remember that you might not get your first choice when applying late.
Private halls are similar to university halls but run by private companies, and usually centrally located and open to students from all universities in the vicinity.
Bills are included and some incorporate amenities such as gyms, concierges and cinema rooms, though they are more expensive.
Halls can be noisy and you can’t choose who you live with, so ask yourself whether you’d be happy in party central or would prefer a house or flat share.
Most are owned and managed by private landlords, and have the advantage of being both the cheapest option and the one that gives you the most independence.
Moving from halls to a rental is a rite of passage for second-years but as a fresher you’re unlikely to have a group of friends to live with yet.
However, the university accommodation office or a specialist website such as AFS will be able to find you a room in a ready-made house share.
‘Lots of properties offer virtual tours, and universities should only recommend landlords that are verified and have a history of letting to students,’ says Simon. ‘Arrange viewings, meet the people you’ll be living with to ensure they seem compatible, find out what bills are included and if there’s outside space.
‘And ask whether you’ll have an individual or a joint tenancy. Many students prefer individual as with a joint tenancy, you’ll be responsible for covering the rent if someone moves out.’
Top tips for finding student accommodation
- Familiarising yourself with accommodation on the university’s website will reduce legwork as you’ll be able to discard digs you’re not interested in.
- Read the small print so you know the rules – for example, are pets allowed, can you have overnight guests or decorate your room?
- Write a shopping list but first find out exactly what’s in your room or rental so you’re not forking out for items that are already there.
- Visit accommodationforstudents.com and accommodation.ucas.com for more info.
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