Many people find it incredibly difficult to get what they want - they know what they want out of a house on paper, but when it comes down to it, they settle for less than they need. However, taking a checklist of questions to ask and things to look for can help you make sure that you aren't compromising anything.
What to ask
1. Are bills included? If so, what does this cover? Does that mean bills will be unlimited, or are they still in some way 'capped'?
2. If the house is a little way from your campus, where are the nearest transport links? A nice house miles away from uni with no ability to hop on the bus won't make you happy.
3. Similarly, where is the nearest shop, supermarket, cash-point, post office etc?
4. Is there an ability to park a car if you have one? Will you need to pay? Will the council get angry if your parents unload your stuff for the day (some do!)
5. When does your lease begin and end? When can you move your things in? If you are moving for third year, could you just move your things straight there from your previous house without having the move them back to your home town?
6. Who do I contact if I need things sorting out?
7. Are bills set up or is that our responsibility?
8. Is a TV License included?
9. Is the upkeep of a garden (if applicable) up to us?
10. Are white goods included?
And finally, does the house suit all of you? You don't want any resentment in the coming year!
Things to look for
1. Be on the look-out for mould. They might make a house cheaper but they can have serious effects on your health!
2. Be realistic with your price range - you will be able to find something that suits you, but be patient and shop around.
3. Room sizes which everyone is happy with. If there is a particularly small one, would someone be happy to take this?
4. Good transport links and local amenities.
5. Somewhere convenient for uni - you will be there a lot after all!