Madly enough, it’s already November, meaning the start of the student house hunting period for next year! Though it’s not a good idea to rush the process (especially for first years who are still getting to know any potential housemates), it’s always good to start looking into it as early as you can, so that you’ll have the most choice possible and have less stress later on in the year. So whether it’s your first time in the world of private housing, or whether you want to make better choices a second time round, here are some tips on how to get it right:
Choose who you are going to live with
Who you are going to live with is one of the most important decisions of house hunting. Even if you end up with a not-so-lush house, if you’re sharing it with a great bunch of people it is far better than a drama-filled or tension-rife existence in a luxury property. As well as obviously wanting to live with people you get on with, it’s a good idea to consider how easy they will be to live with in general. No one is perfect, but some people make better house mates than others. HOUSE MATE WANTED. DIVAS NEED NOT APPLY.
Agree on a Budget
Private housing is generally cheaper than halls, so hopefully your finances can only get better. However it is important to work out what you can realistically afford and agree on this with your group before you start getting carried away. Most student houses are advertised per person per week, but usually rent is paid monthly. Thinking that this simply means multiplying the amount by four however is a school boy error. Times the weekly payment by 52 then divide it by 12 to work out how much your monthly rent will be.
Discuss What You’re Looking For
As a group you may have different ideas of what is important to you in a house. To avoid arguments, get together over a brew and snacks (that bit’s compulsory) and write up a list. On one side agree on your absolute priorities, which might be a certain number of bathrooms, certain kitchen appliances or close to the university. On the other side write up things that you would prefer, but could compromise on, like a telly, a dishwasher, or all double bedrooms. Make this list before you book any viewings, so you’re not faffing about looking at houses that don’t meet what you’re looking for.
Ask a Shit Load of Questions
When you go to view a property, don’t hold back. You might feel like you’re being annoying, but remember that the house could potentially be your home for a year – you need to know everything there is to know. Find out if all of the main appliances work and have a good nose around for damp or damage, don’t just stand in the doorway of each room and nod. Sometimes you’ll be shown around by the current tenants instead of the estate agents which is a good chance to get an honest answer about whether they’ve had any problems, either with the property or the landlord.
Think about the final decision PROPERLY.
Firstly, make sure you’ve seen enough houses to be able to compare them, don’t just see a couple and go with the best of a potentially bad bunch. When you do find a property that you’d all be happy with, still take your time to consider everything before signing the contract or putting down any reserve money. Landlords and estate agents will often try and speed up your decision, by saying that you’ll have to get in there quick if you want it, or the classic ‘we had another group come round earlier who were also very interested’. Unless you’ve left your house hunting until the very last minute, there will always be other houses that you would want, so don’t rush into anything.
Finally good luck, and between all the serious stuff, endless phone calls and the group politics – enjoy it!