Finding your first student home can be both exciting and demanding. Leaving halls means you are taking the next step into the realities of student adulting, and if you find a home you are happy in – it could be where you spend a lot of your time for the rest of your degree.
So where do you begin? Well for starters, you need to decide the simple stuff, and the first step is of course deciding who to live with. A lot of students choose to live with the people they met in their original flat while others choose to team up with fellow course mates, and others choose to go with a general mix of people they met and befriended at their first accommodation. Whoever you decide to live with, make sure they are people you trust to suit your personality and lifestyle – the same the way they fit into yours. The happiest homes are ones in which everyone pitches in together and becomes a student family.
When it comes to choosing a home, you need to prioritise as a group what you want from where you are going to live. This could include room size, social areas, garden space and proximities to the university and other commodities.
Be prepared for the obvious. The larger the rooms, the more likely the house is to be expensive. So think carefully about what you want. In my own experience houses with the larger social areas, such as living rooms and kitchens make the better student homes, ones where everyone can comfortably come together on a daily basis.
Some students want to focus their attentions on flats rather than houses, but houses can offer a sense of privacy in communal living that flats cannot always accommodate. It all depends on the individual.
Another thing to be prepared for, sadly, is disappointment. Maybe you’ve found the perfect house in the ideal location with everything you could have ever wanted…but there is always a chance this could fall through. To offer you an example, the first house I found was a 10-bed converted old vicarage. Ten minutes from the university with ample sized rooms and a modest garden space.
However, someone was offered contracts at the same time as myself and my friends (unbeknown to us) and they signed first – the house was theirs. Another thing to prepare for is the people who originally may want to move in to a second home could change their mind. Circumstances do change. From an original 10 bed I ended up in a 6-bed home with 5 of my nearest and dearest, and in all honesty, it couldn’t have worked out better.
While it fell to me to find the house, it was my friend who set down the original deposit. It is handy to ensure at least one person in your group can afford a deposit outright there and then, to secure your house without any chance of it being seized by another group.
If you can help in any way with your house search, from finding a home to joining student websites or at least attending viewings, the stress levels will drop. Try not to leave everything to one individual, the process will be a lot easier if everyone teams together.
There are plenty of student housing businesses that will be able to help you on your journey, but don’t be afraid to also look at private landlords. Often, they offer you better rates on rent and are more likely to be involved in the general running of the house if things go amiss. Both options have their pros and cons so sit down together and decide what is the best option for you.
As with everything at university, planning early is the best option. Everyone will be in the same boat so the best second homes do tend to go on a first come first served basis.
Talk through everything as a team. While the experience can be a stressful one, remind yourself and each other that it is only temporary. The excitement when you move in will counteract any stress prior, and once you are settled, it will soon start to feel like home!