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The first couple of terms at university tend to go by in a crazy, hazy blur. What with making new friends, joining societies, hitting the clubs and – of course – lectures themselves, it’s no wonder choosing accommodation for year 2 is the last thing on your mind while you’re settling in!
Although it may seem low down on the list of priorities early on, next year will come around a lot quicker than expected – and it’s smart to have your accommodation sorted out sooner rather than later.
Ensuring you secure the right accommodation is vital to your university experience; after all – wherever you rent is going to be your home for an entire year! And remember, it’s not only you looking for accommodation near campus; you’ll want to get ahead of the droves of students all competing for the best houses – so be prepared and start your search early.
Here’s our guide to choosing your second year uni accommodation:
Do Your Research
In first year, chances are you lived in university-owned halls, and had all the paperwork, bills and repairs handled for you. In second year though, many students look for a bit more independence and choose to go down the route of renting private accommodation with a group of friends.
Although a popular option, and generally a lot of fun, there are a number of pitfalls you need to be aware of. Making sure you rent from a reputable estate agent and landlord are essential, as it’s not unheard of for students to have issues with landlords refusing to pay bills or make essential repairs. You can ask your university or students union for a list of tried and tested estate agents if you are unsure.
If you don’t feel responsible enough yet to take care of your own bills, or you don’t quite know who you’d like to share a house with yet, then private halls are a great alternative. The great thing about this option is that the private hall owner will take care of all bills and utilities, meaning you don’t have to! However, some may say living in your own house and learning responsibility is an important part of the university experience. There is no right answer; it’s just about deciding what works for you!
Set Your Budget
Depending on your budget, some options might not be available to you. For example if you’re aiming to live frugally, then living alone isn’t viable; there are lots of hidden accommodation costs such as TV license, broadband and the Central Heating to consider.
If you can get a group of friends together to live with, then you can split certain costs and save yourself a lot of money. Lots of university cities have great affordable options with helpful landlords who include an internet package and all your bills in the price of your rent, so you only have one neat outgoing.
Keep in mind though, that initial admin costs may really add up, so ensure you’ve got enough saved in the first place.
Choose Your Housemates
Quite possibly the most important accommodation related decision you make is going to be whom you want to live with!
It is important to ensure your housemates are not only good friends of yours who you can see yourself being comfortable living with, but also the sort of people who are going to want house rules similar to the ones you live by!
For example, student properties are notorious for being messy/dirty, so if you’re a total clean freak then it’s probably not a good idea to set up home with someone who doesn’t know the difference between a tea towel and a floor mat…
Often students will secure their accommodation at the start of the new calendar year, meaning they will have only known those they are planning to live with for 4 months – many people find it difficult to form strong bonds in this time. Living with someone is a huge commitment as it is, so having to choose your housemates within this short period can be unsettling, scary and seriously stressful.
Don’t worry though – if you still haven’t made strong friendships by this point, then private halls are another great option; they are a fun environment to live in and offer a great opportunity to make those friends that you might even end up renting a private property with in third year!
Location, location, location
No matter how perfect a house is, if it’s miles away from your university campus it’s going to significantly hinder your morning commute, and in turn dampen your whole university experience. Endeavour to find somewhere suited to your needs and also near a bus stop or within walking distance of campus if possible.
Proximity from the university isn’t the only thing to consider though; believe it or not, what type of person you are has an impact on where you’d be happy living!
If you’re one of those people who like to be in the thick of it, never missing out on a party or event, then it might be worth paying a little more to live in the city centre.
However, if money is tight, living somewhere further from university will save you money; just make sure there are good transport links enabling you to get to lectures on time.
Light sleepers should look for properties situated away from very busy roads or noisy train tracks.
Last but not least, the area immediate to the property is important; when you run out of bread and milk of a morning being able to nip across the street to the local newsagent will feel like a godsend!
Your accommodation is capable of making or breaking your university experience; it could be the difference between sleeping soundly and enduring sleepless nights – so never sign a contract in a rush. If you prepare thoroughly and in good time then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t end up happy and content with wherever you choose to live.