This January I headed back to my university town to look at some six-bed houses with two of my friends for our third/fourth year house. I had never intended in living with that many people, but we are all good friends who have mostly lived together before in first or second year who happen to all be taking a year out for placements or study abroad.
The timing was key as it was the weekend before the semester A exams meaning that all the local students would be too busy revising to really be house-searching (a point many estate agents mentioned when I was arranging dates to come down beforehand). In my university town, late November/early December is when most estate agents begin to show houses and most people have something concrete sorted by late January or February. So it would have been more ideal to sort out housing before Christmas, but that brings me to my first major point here.
Getting a six-bed house is quite annoying! It needs to fit everyone’s needs, be near our campus (my university has two campuses with most housing being clustered around either one), and not break the bank. Luckily we did find something to everyone’s liking that wasn’t too far out of our budget and had the luxury of being bills included which none of us have enjoyed since first year. We were all happy to go for bills included because we had done a year (two for me now) of gasping at how much water actually costs and thanking our lucky stars we didn’t have to pay council tax just yet. Another interesting thing about the house we chose is that the payments are made three times over the year to line up with our student finance payments as opposed to being paid monthly. This will remind you all of student halls and it was a surprise, but not unwelcome. It will be nice to see what I have left for the semester right from the get go and not have to worry about rent payments as third year will be stressful enough!
Before settling on our lovely house, there were several other contenders that soon fell the wayside as most student houses will. This time around was very different to my second year viewings were we simply stood in each room and went “Oh, this seems nice.” This time we came in and began asking all the things that really need to be asked and you’ll only really know to check when you’ve lived in student housing;
- Who are the current utility providers for the property?
- How fast is the landlord with responses? Do you have contact with your landlord?
- What is the landlord/agency response to issues such as mould being discovered? (This is vital please check before you rent as some landlords will simply ignore it and let the house fester forever!)
- How are the appliances that the landlord provide? (Seems trivial but you need a decent kettle that won’t kill you!)
- How much do the bills typically cost for the property? (Obviously for non bills included)
Obviously there are more questions that need to be asked, and I will probably do a post just about checking out housings and what should immediately turn you off about a place as more and more students find themselves in mould-filled homes without reliable heating. This for now is just a general talk about how you’re bound to make a blunder or two with the first house, even with all the ‘how to’ lists you can get your hands on, but come third year, you’ll be fed up of the leaky showerhead and ready to find the house you deserve.