When you enter your first year the thought of finding a house barely enters your mind. You haven't made friends yet, you have halls to enjoy, you need to sort your finances and there's plenty of work to get on with. When the time comes that you finally need to figure it out everyone seems to go nuts!
Generally, everyone seems to rush as soon as second semester starts which is what we tried. You go around asking friends "Will you live with me?" and they reply "Yeah sure!" and you begin to make plans and even get a little excited. Come the time you find the perfect house already there are people bailing out and changing their minds or bringing other people into the equation.
What you need to do is make sure you have stability with the people you choose to live with. From February til around April, i'd say, is when you really need to get a house sorted and settled. You need to know that the people who say yes to you will stick to their guns and not run a mile when you find a place that's suitable.
If it fails there is always the option to find a single room in a houseshare and meet a new set of people, it's always good to widen your social network! It may also prove to be more reliable and stress free.
I think my top 5 tips would be:
1. Start to ask and figure out who you'll live with before christmas so that by the end of say January/beginning of february you roughly know.
2. Take time to do a search for houses, more often than not the places that show up early are expensive!
3. Try and find a house that is being let as ..a house not single rooms in a house. If you go for houses that advertise as individual locksuites/rooms then you each need a TV license and the chances are the rent will be evened out even if you end up with a tiny room! Houses that come as a whole house seem to be more chilled and save you money in various ways!
4. Try not to let it stress you out too much, you're already going to be loaded with coursework and possibly even a job? It is easier said than done and I am stressing about it too as we're looking for a house but it's not worth getting ill over.
5. Get used to the area you're in. We found that being at uni in the centre of Cambridge has hindered our knowledge of any surroundings further than about half a mile/a mile. It's highly likely that you'll end up with a place a fair walk away from uni so get used to learning routes and discovering beyond your little bubble.
I hope in some small way this has been useful to you, I also hope that You and I both, will find the right place to live.