Before moving into your student accommodation, there are many things for you to consider before moving in. There are many factors to take into consideration such as location, budget, and the number of people you want to live with. Our guide to student accommodation in the UK will give you a good idea about what factors you should consider before making the right decision.
- Think about the types of accommodation
In general, there are three types of student accommodation.
This option is popular for 1st year students as they try to navigate study life. It will be easy to meet lots of new people and you’ll be close to your university. Although there is less flexibility in choosing your exact room, this option has benefits like security, bicycle parking, laundry facilities, common room, utility bills and meals included in the price. But they get booked very fast.
Private residences offer more flexibility with dates and also make it easier to choose your location and type of room. They are not limited to students, so it’s possible you’ll end up sharing the building with a mixture of students and professionals.
Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA)
They are large apartment complexes built specifically for students. They are known for having great facilities like in-house gyms, games rooms and dedicated study spaces, as well as more ‘typical’ common rooms. You’ll also have lots of flexibility in choosing the type of room you want and the dates you want to rent it for.
- Think about the price range
Knowing how much you can spend on accommodation helps when considering other factors and weighing up options later on. For example, if you’re happy to stay in a shared space, you might consider getting a twin room as a way to save some money or if you don’t mind walking a bit more (or getting on public transport/cycling) to campus, then perhaps your trade-off might be staying in accommodation which is a bit further away.
- Think about the distance
This is an important consideration for international students as they are new to the country. Depending on the season and climate, they should consider to live within walking distance of certain places. Apart from considering how far the accommodation is from campus, you might also consider the specific location. For example, do you want to live closer to certain train lines or bus stop? If you need to live closer to campus or certain facilities then this is definitely a useful way to narrow-down your accommodation options.
- Think about the facilities and amenities
Different types of accommodation offer various advantages. There are some essential facilities that you should be mindful of such as wi-fi connection, laundry services, maintenance services, utility bills, contents insurance, etc. In addition to this, some halls might offer ensuite rooms or shared kitchens between a smaller flat size.
Are there bars and restaurants nearby? Keeping on top of what’s going on around your local area is key to maximising your experiences at university. Research the locality to look for grocery stores, good local restaurants, and an ATM, as these are essential services that you will need regularly.
- Think about the Safety & Security
If you’re looking for off-campus accommodation, you need to consider the area you might be living in. Find out how safe neighborhoods are by researching local crime statistics on government websites and online newspapers. Take a walk into the streets to get a good feel for the neighborhood that the student accommodation is located in.
- Think about Furnished or Unfurnished
Make sure you know what will be inside your accommodation when you arrive. For example, does your accommodation have a bed? Is there a desk and a chair? Or even a shower curtain? Or would you prefer to buy your own furniture? Before arriving, it’s good to know what is provided and what is not so you can arrange everything else you need without the time pressure.
- Look out for infestations
Pest infestations is often overlooked especially if you are an international student who may be unaware of bed bugs. Bed bugs in student accommodation are on the rise and students should be aware of how to protect themselves from these pests. Pest infestations can be a problem in older and cheaper accommodation. Common pest infestations include cockroaches, flies, slugs, mice, rats, bugs, etc.
Mold can ruin clothes and furnishings that can leave you with extra expenses. Damp is also a severe health hazard for people with hay fever, asthma, or other breathing issues. Look out for flaking paint or wallpaper apart from the apparent black mold patches. A musky smell is also a sign of dampness lurking in the walls.
- Look for student reviews
One of the best ways to know about how a particular student accommodation is like is to know from online sources like social media or blogs. Students leave reviews on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. You can find them on accommodation websites as well. You can also chat with current students to know about the feel and social environment is like. It will help you to make sound decision to choose the right accommodation based on actual student experiences.
- Read & Understand the Contract
Before signing a contract, make sure you know your rights and obligations. Do you have to pay a deposit before you can move in, and if so, how much? Do you need a guarantor who will agree to pay the rent for you if you cannot? What is the cancellation policy if your plans change? For example, what happens if you don’t get accepted to your university, you don’t get a visa, or there are new travel restrictions put in place? Even if these things seem unlikely, it’s always better to be prepared and know what to do if anything unexpected arises.
- Think about how to book
As soon as you receive your offer, start researching student accommodation. It is your responsibility to secure suitable accommodation for yourself. If you don’t apply for university-owned accommodation, your university will assume that you have found or will find private accommodation. Most accommodation can be booked online by paying a minimum deposit. You can also call to make payment by phone where you will need a credit card or debit card. But make sure to know the kinds of payment that is accepted. Also, check if you have made the necessary arrangements to make payment irrespective of the type of accommodation.