Two of the most daunting elements about starting your university education are moving away from home and meeting new people. The previous anxiety of that first day is soon forgotten about, as Fresher’s takes you through two of the most memorable weeks of your life. Most first year students tend to live in halls and, after establishing various friendship groups, they move into the town centre sharing either a flat or house. Settling in is a fundamental part of your new independent life, and where and how you decide to live in reality plays a much more important role than is generally considered. Here are the ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ for choosing your home for the next couple of years.

The Do’s

1.     Know your budget– accommodation can vary in prices depending if you’re looking for an en suite, double bedroom, catered or with a sink in your room. Before applying for your desired choice, always make sure your loan could easily cover the costs, or that you have enough money to pay for the little extras – the last thing you want to be doing is being stuck on rent day panicking about something you just can’t afford.

2.     Think about your lifestyle– think about which facilities would be most convenient for you. If you’re a budding chef and want to expand upon those skills, or you simply find it more efficient to supply food for yourself, perhaps self-catered accommodation is best suited for you. Think about the location: be prepared to walk, cycle or spend money on the bus if you are opting for accommodation further away from the university.

3.     Take your time – Most firms will try to push students into a contract during the Christmas period, threatening that houses will be non-existent by the time January strikes – don’t listen to this. Timing is the key thing when finding your house as you have many things to consider, such as prices, location, convenience and who you want to live with. Book as many house viewings as you need and don’t be afraid to ask about anything; just remember that it’s you that will be keeping the letting agents with business and so the safety and legitimacy of the house or flat is your priority. Make sure that you are under agreement for what you want, and ensure that they uphold their end of the contract.


The Don’ts

1.     Never leave your room/house unlocked– Safety in general is often neglected as the thrill of university life absorbs all of your main focus. Small things which you wouldn’t usually pay too much attention to ironically become one of the most important elements which you need to keep in mind. Simple things like locking your doors, shutting your windows and closing the curtains can decide between two very drastic opposites: keeping your belongings and peace of mind, or having the chronic paranoia of not being safe, while dealing with the expensive replacement and devastating loss of your things.

2.     Don’t live with too many people– Although on campus you’re likely to make lots of friends from the numbers placed in halls, deciding to then maintain that friendship group the year after can be a tricky task. Instead, once you have an established friendship group, suggest the idea to them. A 6 bedroom house is very common and is a balanced number of people to live with (and there’s less washing up!). Sharing a house with too many people could provoke disputes and be difficult to work in; various unexpected complications could arise and once you’re bound to the contract, there is no going back, as dramatic as it may seem. The company you keep is the most important aspect which will make your experience what it is, and keep you sane during the difficult exam periods.

3.     Don’t base your decision entirely on aesthetics – while having the luxurious abode may seem desirable at first, you have to make sure you can afford it all year. Does it look like an energy efficient house? You don’t want to be ill all winter for fear of the heating bill.

Alice Priestley


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