It's almost December, so everyone has settled nicely into their students homes; but it’s cold, and with endless assignment deadlines stacking up, next year at uni seems far - and a lot of essay-writing - away! With students almost a third of a way through their course, think how quickly it has gone so far. Next year at uni will be here before you know it. Of course, we all need a roof over our heads, so the important thing to ask is where will you be living? Thinking about these things NOW saves a lot of hassle down the line when there is only limited availability.
Step 1: Starting the process
Firstly, you need to find an actual building to call home. You might want to stay in the halls you currently live in and make a whole bunch of new friends next year. But a lot of people will be looking for a flat or house share - either with friends or strangers - as a friendlier, more independent and more personal place. Picking the right home, area to live in and housemates to live with will make a huge difference as to how much you enjoy next year.
If you don't want to live in halls, start thinking about whether you want to be in a flat or house: do you want to remain close to the uni or take advantage of cheaper rents further out (more on this later on!) and how many people will you be living with? Speak to your friends/flatmates now and see who is interested in house-hunting with you. Be careful who you decide to live with though, as housemates from hell are a sure-fire way to you not enjoying your time at university. Again, more on this later on in the post.
Be sure to check out any Housing or Accommodation Fairs being held at your university as these can be a great resource. But Accommodation for Students is an invaluable website to use. Not only is it free to use, but we will help you find the type of accommodation you want, in your city and at your budget. As one of the biggest (and best!) student accommodation resources available to you, it's a no-brainer! By clicking here, you can even use the site to find housemates to join you, either before your search or after you have found somewhere.
Step 2: Deciding which area
Every city in the UK has student-haunts where thousands of us take up residence each year. But these are not always the most enjoyable or best value for money areas you can find. Once again, AFS comes to the rescue. As the UK’s No. 1 Student Accommodation we, they have used our vast network of students to create Student reviews for each city. Just click on your city and you will see how each area is rated for going out, shops, transport, community, facilities and overall satisfaction. Scroll down and you will see an average rent rate for each area letting you know whether it's value for money. Use this information to decide the best area for you!
Step 3: Finding housemates
Picking housemates to live with is never easy. We all have pet-hates and it’s only natural to get slightly annoyed at times, even with friends. If there have been times when a current housemate has really gotten on your nerves though, it's probably a sign to look for a different flat buddy next year. Also, whilst you may have made lots of great friends who you enjoy spending time with over a pint or glass of wine, this doesn't automatically make them the ideal housemate.
My best advice is to take the plunge and use your initiative to start the whole process. It makes you the person choosing where you want to live and who you want to live with. Speak with a couple of mates you particularly get on with, then you guys can go out and find the perfect pad - and then recruit a few more tenants if needed. You also need to be realistic. Do you ever leave washing up overnight, play your music a little too loudly or return nosily after a few too many drinks? Think about how other people doing the same to you makes you feel. You need a balance of housemates to make it work. Although you might want to live with all the lads, this can mean the place deteriorates into a dump with unwashed dishes and rubbish piling up. You might love your ‘girlies’ but all-female houses can become bitchy if you aren't careful - and bathroom wars in the morning are always a risk. So consider your options when it comes to the type of people you live with. Be firm from the start about cleaning/washing up and everyone playing their part, ask people what time they like to go to bed, can they or do they like to cook, do they smoke, if they listen to music and can they afford rent. This information will help you find the perfect housemates! Look for people who like to cook and are happy to do their share of cleaning from the start.... a well-fed, clean household is always a good start!
Can you say no to living with someone?
Of course you can! Remember, if you are friendly, polite and explain yourself then the other person can't be unreasonable about your decision. If you really want to avoid confrontation, follow my advice and use your initiative to seek out potentially great housemates first, giving you the power to decide where and who to live with. But if you do have to say no, then don't be personal - especially if it's someone who you get on with but just don't want to live with. They may be loud, rude, untidy or just lazy - but a great mate on a night out - so being too hard won't help. Being upfront early on is your best bet, whatever the problem might be. Calmly explain there are no more rooms in the property, you are avoiding the temptation of going out too much with the bigger workload next year, you want to live with tidier people but that doesn't mean you want to lose the friendship you have. Any decent friend will understand - and who knows, it might be the kick up the butt they need to change their ways.
Step 4: Don’t forget you have to pay the bills!
If you have been living in halls then you won't have had to worry about those pesky bills. But a house or flat share is a whole different ball game - students are exempt from council tax, but there’s gas, electricity, water, insurance, TV license and rent to be worrying about. Try and find a property which has some, or all, bills included.
But fear not, there is an easy solution! Glide is an AMAZING company which makes bills simple - and stress free - for any student household. If everyone in your home signs up, Glide will quote you a one-off, monthly cost (per person) to take care of ALL your bills. Each individual is only responsible for their share of the cost, taking away the need to be anxious about housemates paying up and on time. You have access to an online metre for the energy used, so if you use less energy than you have paid for, you receive a refund for this amount at the end of the year. Bonus! It's not a question of why not use them, it's more why the hell would you not?!
Happy house-hunting everyone!
Written by David Heffer
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