Typically, your years in uni will be the first time in your life when you will have to go house hunting on your own. Looking for a place to live, comparing locations and costs, talking to agencies and landlords – it can all make you feel quite responsible and grown up, but the whole process can also be quite daunting. If you’ve never done this before, you may ask yourself, where to even begin? And even though most universities have special services in place to ease you into finding your first house as of your own (well, and your housemates’), it can still be quite a challenging process. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself organized, to make sure you’re not running late, but you’re also not rushing into things and, most of all, to help you find a place where you’d feel comfortable and at home.
- First thing’s first – figure out who you’re going to live with. Of course, living on your own is an option if you can afford it, but sharing a house or flat will be much cheaper and more economically viable for a student. When sharing a flat or house, you have two options – either rent a single room and end up living with random flat mates, or getting together with a group of people and finding a place to rent together. Obviously, this is the better option, as there will be fewer surprises, considering you already know one another. Now, in order to be on time with everything, it’s good to know who you’re going to be sharing with around winter break. Typically, you can even look for places after Easter, but the good and relatively cheap places fill up fairly quickly and you wouldn’t want to get left behind.
- The next step is to figure out what each person in the group wants out of your new home. Make a list of all of your priorities. Some things to consider at this point are: distance from your university or your jobs, cost of rent and bills, room size and layout, number of bathrooms, type of let – whether it’s an agency or a private landlord.
- Taking all of these things and anything else you might think of into consideration, it is now time to find a few potential places. The best way to do this is to go online, onto the websites of a few (definitely more than two) student letting agents. Search according to your criteria and your price range. At this point you may find out that you’ve underestimated the prices, or maybe you’ve overestimated them. Adjust your expectations and select a few places where you’d like to book viewings.
- With this information, go into your chosen agencies. At this point you should have a clear idea of what you want, but do ask the agents to show you some other places that might fit your requirements – the more viewings you go on, the better. When going on viewings remember two things – one, all of your future housemates have to be there and two, ask as many questions as possible. This means talk to the agency, the landlord and the current tenants, ask about the rent, the neighbourhood, the amenities, the tenants’ relationship with the landlord, the noise and the heating, any future o refurbishments or restoration, the type of contract – anything and everything you can think of.
- Finally, when you do select a place, remember to have your contract checked by a legal advisor before signing.
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