Sunday, 11 January 2015

10 Top Tips When Looking At Student Houses



It's approaching that time of year when students across the country start thinking housing for next year already. This will be my fourth (and final- hopefully!) time looking for a student house, so I thought it would be a good idea to share some of what I've learned over the years when it comes to picking somewhere to live for the next academic year.

I thought about writing a checklist of things to make sure your future house has, but actually it's pretty hard to write something useful that would apply for everyone. What might be a total deal-breaker for one group might not be an issue at all for another and so it's really up to you to discuss what you do and don't expect in a student house. Instead I've decided to share some general tips for the process of student-house hunting...

1. Book viewings on anything that has potential
It's easy to sit online, finding nice houses and posting them to each other, but you need to go and see a few too! Seeing houses makes it much easier to work out what is and isn't important to your group and the more you see, the more of a feel you get for what it is you want. 

2. Try and visit the house yourself
I didn't go to view my house this year because I wasn't in Bristol at the time. I trust the judgement of my friends, but it was a little bit nerve-wracking signing for, and moving into, a house I'd never actually seen. Luckily I really like living in it, but I was certainly more comfortable moving into houses I'd actually looked at.

3. Take photos
Student housing moves quickly and so usually you'll only get to view a house once, for maybe about 20 minutes, before you decide whether or not you want to sign for it. It's fine, it works like that, but when you view the house about six or seven months before moving in, you've completely forgotten what it looks like! Having photos makes it easier to remember what's there and what isn't. Get good shots of the bedrooms in particular, makes life so much easier when it comes to picking rooms.

4. Talk to the current tenants if they're in
They'll know better than the agents what it's like to actually live there. Ask about bills, neighbours, any difficulties they've had and what they like about living there. Ask what they landlord/ agency has been like with them- are things sorted promptly or have there been issues? I'd also suggest asking about security/ whether they've been burgled. It's a horrible thing to think about, but it happens to a lot of students and it's something no one else is going to tell you.

5. Confirm what does and doesn't come with the house
Especially things like TVs, microwaves and washing machines. These are generally easy enough to source if they're not included, but it's better to know in advance rather than have to sort out after you've moved in.

6. Don't be put off by mess!
Student houses don't have the best reputation for being clean and tidy, but try and see past it. My bedroom this year had probably not had the curtains or window opened all year, someone had been smoking in there and it was generally just disgusting. A good airing, a lick of paint and a new mattress later and it's absolutely fine now. 

7. Is it somewhere convenient?
Is it easy to get to uni, but also to a supermarket/ gym/ train station etc.? Think about which places you need to be close to, and which things you can compromise on a little bit. Consider things like heavy food shopping, whether you'll use a gym if it's out of the way and whether you travel frequently and want to be near bus routes or train stations.

8. Some things are worth negotiating
In my experience, haggling on the rent price is pretty pointless (although it may not be the case everywhere- if you know different, do leave a comment!) because if you won't pay the full amount, another group probably will. On the other hand, we managed to reduce our agency fees this year by speaking to the lettings agents because they were charging something so ridiculously above the normal rate. We were in a better position to do this because we left it relatively late to sign for a house and I think they were keen to have it let rather than it remain empty because of high agency costs. It did take a bit of persuasion and stubborness, as well as researching what other agencies were charging but it paid off.

We also arranged viewings of some houses that were only supposed to be offered to post-graduate students. I'm still an undergraduate, but being in fourth year puts me in the same year as someone on a postgraduate course so the landlords were happy to consider us as postgrads.

9. Search regularly and in lots of places
As well as looking on agency websites, I spent a lot of time on Rightmove and Zoopla keeping an eye on new properties coming up every couple of days. I also searched on the university's accommodation page and on sites such as Gumtree. Properties get advertised in loads of places so you'll find more choice by searching widely.

10. Most importantly - don't panic!
You will find somewhere. Don't settle for the first place you see if you're not sure about it. It can be worth waiting it out a little longer for something better to come along.

There's a lot of variety in student housing, so hopefully you manage to find something nice! Good luck!

Jennifer
xXx

ps - yes, one of my previous student houses did indeed have an Aga in the kitchen! (Sadly it couldn't be turned on)
SHARE:

23 comments

  1. I definitely agree with taking photos! Landlords know we're students so know that they can rip us off - therefore you need before and after photos to prove that you haven't broken/marked something! I learnt this the hard way last year xx
    Sam | Samantha Betteridge

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've actually been really fortunate so far with landlords who have been very reasonable. They've taken detailed inventories with the condition of everything and never blamed us for things we haven't done :)x

      Delete
  2. This is a great post. I agree about the mess bit - when viewing one I ended up standing in a pair of dirty knickers.... x

    Hi lovely! I'm over at http://ninegrandstudent.co.uk, let me know if you drop by! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha that would be so off putting! But probably worth overlooking! x

      Delete
  3. Great post. My biggest tip would be to not compromise on communal facilities, if the kitchen is a tad on the small side that may become a big issue when you all want to cook at the same time. Also, consider what the area is like. It might look like a lovely street in the day, but what's it like at night?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those are such important points too. We have a tiny kitchen for six people! And the area is a massive consideration and something I try to take into account :)

      Delete
  4. I can remember what was for me this house searching - hours in walking and taking to landlords, looking dozens of apartments and most of them was too small or too expensive, or without any electrical supplies like washing machine, refrigerator, stove and etc.

    Carpet cleaning Wimbledon

    ReplyDelete
  5. Definitely agree with all of these! My main advice would be to try and visit a property you like twice, because it's easy to over exaggerate how much you like it when there's nothing else you do!


    India / Touchscreens & Beautyqueens

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, ideally it would help to see places twice but the student housing market here moves really quickly in the peak time. In first year we missed out on a great house simply because the people viewing it straight after us had a car to drive to the lettings agent while we were on foot!

      Delete
  6. Sorting out uni housing is horrific! I have only had to do it first year and we had to see all these houses in the snow (not easy!). Fortunately I'm in Canada this year (in rez - yay!) and I'm just moving into a friend's house when I get back so it's plain sailing from here.

    Your point about look through the mess is so important! My housemates last year didn't whilst I did and I got the best room in the house (the only one with a double bed and lots and lots of storage!)

    Rachael at broomfie.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's all worked out well for you :) Apart from the house hunting in the snow - glad I never had to do that!
      No one thinks about storage - it's one of the most important things to me!

      Delete
  7. I'm not looking at student houses anytime soon but this was very interesting for me to read and applies well to looking for apartments or houses, too! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I'm sure house hunting is a skill for life!

      Delete
  8. I am hoping to move this year, so this post was extremely helpful. Thankyou so much! xx

    www.lulabelloves.com/blog

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to help - best of luck with your searching! x

      Delete
  9. Your tip about visit the location is absolutely vital. You never know what someone else may like, so it's imperative to see the house for yourself. Good think you liked yours even though you didn't check it out first.
    :] // ▲ itsCarmen.com ▲

    ReplyDelete
  10. This would have been very helpful when I was moving in!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I didn't see the student house we had either because I was on a gap year in France, it was horrible but all of them were pretty grubby. They come with free mice in Bradford :/

    Corinne x
    www.skinnedcartree.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great idea to write a post like this :) Looking for a new apartment is always stressful :D

    http://iwish-zuzi.blogspot.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great tips!! :)

    One more from me: ask about the neighbours!!! We didn't find out until after we'd signed the lease that the downstairs neighbour was a psycho who hated students and would complain at the click of a kettle. It was an absolute nightmare that ended with us having to call the police to file harassment charges and me having panic attacks for a year after :(

    So make sure you ask what the neighbours are really like!!! xx

    Little Miss Katy | UK Lifestyle Blog

    ReplyDelete
  14. This is a great post! And I'm so impressed you bartered your agency fees down. When I moved into my first non student house we spent nearly a whole months rent on fees and references between two of us AND they wanted money to give references to our next places when we moved out. It was absurd. I think its really unfair people get forced into paying these things out of desperation and not knowing they can argue/whats above average x

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I really appreciate to you for this work out you have doing well job .
    I hope this will be very informative for student knowledge keep sharing this type of information with us .I like your way . . .


    Cheapest student apartments in Manchester | Closest student accommodation to Manchester University

    ReplyDelete

Blogger Template Created by pipdig