During your first year of university, you will likely live in student halls of residence. I found this beneficial for the first year. I was close to the university campus and in a flat with multiple other first year students. It was a chance to settle into the university life and get to know others relatively quickly.
The second year, I needed to find other student accommodation. I wanted to live with some of the friends I’d made in my first year of university but things quickly changed and I was left searching for a place on my own. I won’t get into the details but within two weeks I’d managed to find a place to live and got myself moved in.
How did I do it with little time to spare? Well, here are my top tips to save time searching for student accommodation.
Make Your First Decision: On-Campus or Off-Campus
This really is going to be the first decision that you need to make. Do you want to live on-campus or do you want to try off-campus? There are pros and cons to both.
At Aston University, we were pretty much told that second-year students weren’t going to get a chance to live on-campus unless there were some special circumstances. On-campus was for first years predominately and some final-year students.
That made it clear that we’d have to look for somewhere else to live. But there are other universities that allow for all years to live on-campus. It will depend on the campus and year sizes. Find out what yours offers and make this initial decision.
Choose the Location Near Your University
Set some restrictions, limits, and requirements for your student accommodation. This will help you quickly narrow down the search to begin with.
Living in Birmingham meant there were numerous choices outside of the city centre. It was up to me how far I wanted to live out. I wanted to be on a direct train or bus route (I didn’t drive then) in an area that was relatively popular with other students. At the same time, I wanted to be away from some of the more studenty areas.
In other words, I wanted to be a short walk from friends but out of the way from the majority of the trouble.
That eliminated some major areas. Even though they had house shares they were just too far away. It also help to narrow down my choices to three or four options.
Use House Rental Sites Like RightMove
You will be able to find some student accommodation options on the likes of RightMove and Zoopla. This is especially the case for the larger cities, like London and Birmingham.
There are other sites set up specifically for students in search for student accommodation. Use them to your advantage. Scour through listings with your requirements in mind. You can set the maximum rent budget, the minimum number of bedrooms, and even the location radius that you want to live within. There are others that will allow you to make more advanced searches.
When you have your requirements on these listings, you’ll narrow down your searches immediately. This was the way that I found some of the listings that I used to narrow down to my top choices of properties to visit in the two weeks to my second year starting.
Check your university accommodation services. Aston University didn’t have this when I was there, but it may now. Most other universities I have heard have them. They will vet some of the landlords to make sure they’re not cowboys looking to scam money off you. You’ll be able to narrow down your search quickly and know that your money is in good hands.
Make a Plan to Visit All Your Housing Options on the Same Day
Booking in visits to view houses and flats is important. You want to gauge the value for money and the type of house shares and areas that are available. When I looked around at student houses, I booked all my viewings in on the same day.
This is your chance to keep options fresh in your mind. In the end I stopped after half of the day. I’d found the house share that I wanted—and it turned out to be the best house share I ever had! Okay, so there were some questionable moments but I couldn’t have asked for some better housemates and a better landlord.
Don’t just straight at the first house you view. I nearly made that mistake and was lucky enough to pull out before I lost anything. If you get an off vibe about anything or anyone, trust your gut. There’s a reason it’s telling you that something doesn’t feel right.
By visiting everywhere on the same day, you also save some time. You can plan your journeys to work in a circle, so you don’t keep driving across town. You can limit the time spent in between judging the pros and the cons, and you can keep long drives to a minimum if you have to travel to view the places.
Ask Questions Upfront about the Student Accommodation
You’ll be able to get in touch with the landlords—or the estate agents—before viewing the properties. This is a great time to ask questions to find out more about previous students who have lived there and any requirements that the landlord may have.
I found out that one landlord wanted three months rent as a deposit from each member of the houseshare. This wasn’t clear at first and it took questions to find out the full details. We could have wasted a lot of time working on getting the houseshare had we not realised that point sooner—I don’t do more than one month’s rent as a deposit.
Make a list of questions and don’t be afraid to email them. Most landlords and estate agents will work with email and it gets all your answers in writing, should there be a problem. If you have immediate questions, call with the questions and then email will a follow up reply just repeating everything you discussed and understood. Again, it just puts it all in writing.
While finding student accommodation in two weeks was a hassle, I don’t regret what happened. I found a houseshare that I enjoyed for three years with a landlord that I recommended to friends. The house was out of the way of the student areas but still close enough to get to friends easily.
Are you searching for student accommodation? Follow the above tips and you can have the perfect place in no time. Save time so you can use it for socialising and studying.