Tips For Finding a Student House

This may be a lengthy blog post (don't say I didn't warn you) but looking for a student house for 2nd/3rd/4th year of uni (or 5th/6th year if you're a brainbox who's not satisfied with a bachelors degree) can be a really tricky and daunting experience, particularly if you're new to renting and don't know what to look out for.

Here's where I come in! I'm now in second year and have just secured a house for my final year of uni. This time last year I didn't know what to expect and wish now that I'd had some guidance with house hunting. So that's what I'm (hopefully) going to give you!



1. Finding housemates

If you're a lucky one, you'll have been put in halls with people that you genuinely get on with, people that you call your friends. You love living together - you have so much fun cooking, having movie nights, going out together... your tight-knit group in Flat 30B is perfect and you decide to live together again for second year without even having to question it.

If you weren't so blessed with your fellow first-year flatmates, the prospect of choosing people to live with in second year can be a bit daunting. Here are your options:

* Live with Coursemates - maybe you have a group of great friends on your course who you'd have a great time living with

* Live with other friends - do you have friends on other courses? Or perhaps friends you know from home?

* Mix it up - you might have one first-year flatmate that you get along really well with, even though the others are utter plonkers. Join forces, and scout out some others (perhaps one of their course friends, and one of yours?)

* Facebook - now, this was my port of call last year. I only had one good friend on my course, my flatmates had all made plans together, my friends from home had plans too. I was all on my lonesome...
...but not for long!
I put a post on all the freshers and university Facebook groups saying I was looking for housemates. You may feel embarrassed doing this (I know I certainly did - 'hey look at me I have no friends!') but, trust me when I say this, you are not alone in this situation! Within a few days, I'd found a girl who was in the same position, we chatted and met up and clicked straight away and two weeks later, we'd formed a group of 6 and we love living together now.

TOP TIP: Try to work it so that you live with friends with similar interests/routines as you. For example, I'm not one for clubbing, so I carefully avoided the party girls. There'd be nothing worse than being woken up at 4am from them coming in, or being unable to sleep because they invited the whole of their course over for a house party.

2. House Hunting

Once you've gathered together a group of people to live with, the next step is of course to start house hunting. The best way to do this is most probably online. Websites like www.rightmove.co.uk are fab. Alternatively, just google 'student houses (+ name of your location)'.

It's probably a good idea to be open-minded at first about price and area etc, and just see what's out there first. Once you've had a good look through, then decide amongst you on a maximum price and which area you'd prefer, have a good look at the photos and read the information provided. Then shortlist them and book viewings.

3. Booking Viewings

Before you start booking viewings for your shortlists houses, it's a good idea to all get your heads together and work out exactly when you're all free. Perhaps go through your timetable of a particular week and note down when you're free and then identify slots to go for viewings. It saves precious time when the estate agent asks when you want the viewing to be!

4. Viewing Houses

So now it's time to actually view some houses. Hopefully, your estate agent will be able to take you to a few in one go. Definitely make a list of things to look out for before you go (maybe even the ones I've written below if you're feeling loyal ha!).

Having lived in a student house for 5 months now, and been through the house-hunting process twice, here's my biggest pieces of advice...

Look out for the following:

* Excessive mould
* Damp (feel the furniture, and use your nose!)
* The area and location - is it a nice area to live?
* Safety equipment (fire blanket/smoke alarms etc)
* How well kept the house is (can you tell if the landlord/lady looks after it?)
* Cleanliness (although you may have to try and look past the current tenants' dirty dishes strewn around the kitchen)
* The fridge - is it big enough for you all?
* Appliances - does the cooker look fairly new?
* Radiators - are there radiators in all the rooms, and the hallway?
* Parking - is there any parking if any of you have cars
* Is the house on the bus route (to uni, town, shopping centres?) How frequent are the buses? Which bus company (you may want to use your existing bus pass?)
* Phone reception - have a look at your phone when you're viewing houses and see how many bars of signal you have!
* Floor space
* Storage space - wardrobes, drawers, room to put extra storage space if neccessary
* Number of showers

Questions to ask...

(Yourselves):
* Do we want to live in a student area? Or somewhere more residential?
* How far away is the house from uni? Can we walk or do you have to take a bus?
* Do we want a dishwasher? Does this house have one?
* Is there a washing machine and tumble dryer?
* Is there a table/somewhere we can all eat together?
* Is there a late-night corner shop nearby for emergency supplies (namely, chocolate)?
*Are the rooms light? Or are they dark and dingy?
*Are there double beds? (A very important matter for most of us!)

(The Estate Agent):
* How much is the rent?
* How long is the lease?
*Are bills included in the rent?

(Current Tenants (if you meet them)):
* Have you had any problems with the house?
* What's your experience been like living here?
* What's the broadband connection like?
* What's the water pressure like?

TOP TIP: Make a list of things to check before you view a house and always go back for a second (or even a third) viewing to make sure you're entirely happy with it!

5. Choosing the house

I suppose that the best way to choose which house to take is to pick the best all-rounder. Talk a lot between yourselves - what did you like and dislike? Talk to your parents too (they know more about all this adult stuff than we do).

Once you've decided on a house, ring the estate agent. Perhaps even go and have a meeting with them (actually I highly recommend this) just to ask any further questions and make sure nobody nabs it before you do!

Make sure you're 100% clear about the next steps. What do you have to pay and when? Something super important for Guernsey students to enquire is whether you have to have a UK-based guarantor (that's someone you have to choose who's legally responsible to pay your rent if you fail to). When I was house hunting with a fellow Guern last week, she realised she didn't have any family in the UK to be her guarantor, so that was a bit complicated.

TOP TIP: Write things down! The payments, when they're due, any questions to be asked or answers that you're given. Just make a note of as much as you can, so you're fully informed and you don't get taken advantage of (us students tend to be quite naïve, or hopefully not now you've read this blog post!).

I hope this guide was helpful to you and (due to it being Sunday, my brain isn't functioning all too well and my memory is a bit shabby right now) if you have any further questions or tips for other students, please comment below and share this post!

Good luck! x




3 comments

  1. This is why if you are looking for a house while studying, it's important to get moving to the city where your school is early. So you can hunt for some good place to stay! No point leaving things to the last minute!



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  2. living together is great, just like this article, https://kovla.com/blog/living-together-is-just-as-emotionally-satisfying-as-being-married-study-finds/and this one by the way can change your life!enjoy

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