So you’ve decided to take the plunge and move out of halls – a big decision!
Living off campus is a notable transition for many students. In addition to (possibly) having your own bathroom facilities and not having to listen to Jessica from down the hall complain about breaking up with her boyfriend for the third time this month, you’ll get a taste of the real world (and be expected to take your own bins out).
It’s an exciting time, but it can also be daunting. Take a look at our best tips for living off campus below.
Work out a budget
The University of Loughborough’s Big Guide to Living Off-Campus recommends that the first thing to do when considering off-campus housing is to work out what your budget is to find out what type of property you can afford. This means factoring in all expenses, such as rent, utilities, books, and course fees, and then deciding how much you can afford to pay for the new place. This will inform your choices about where you look for housing.
Find a flatmate
A flatmate is a great way to cut living costs in half. But be very choosy about who you live with. Some people are fantastic friends or great course mates, but living with them is an entirely different story. Look for a housemate with a similar habits – if you like to stay out late, pick someone who likes to do the same, and vice versa, to get ahead of any arguments. Top Universities has a fantastic guide for finding a compatible flatmate.
View plenty of properties
During the viewing process, make sure to look at plenty of different properties with different estate agents to get a feel for what is available. Make sure to get any promises that the estate agents make in writing, so nothing can be offered and rescinded later.
Keep the commute in mind
More affordable rent prices might lure you away from the city centre, but keep the commute in mind, especially if you’re looking at flats during the summertime. Walking two kilometres to class might seem like a breeze in late July, but you’ll be thinking about it very differently when you’re walking through rain and snow in the winter.
Firm up the finances
Some landlords prefer to be paid weekly, whilst others are happy with a traditional monthly payment. Make sure you confirm the payment schedule in writing before signing a contract. Many students go for properties that have bills included, however, there are certainly some things to look out for. The Big Guide to Living Off-Campus recommends asking these questions:
- Make sure that your names will not be on the bills if they are included in the rent.
- Be sure that you’re crystal clear about which utilities are included (and which aren’t).
- Calculate how much the rent would be without bills, and see how this compares to other properties.
- Ask for information about previous bills to get a feel for how much things cost.
Conduct an Inventory
Many students lose money in private rental accommodation because they did not conduct an inventory when they moved in. Walk around the property several times with your housemates, and make a note of every little imperfection, so you’re not charged for it further down the line.
Set Ground Rules
When you move in with new flatmates, it’s always important to set ground rules. Think about how you want to use the space and the rules you’d like to set out for the common areas. LIV Student recommends asking questions like:
- What about guests?
- How often should we clean?
- Who is in charge of what tasks?
Living off-campus is an adjustment, but it’s the first step towards taking on the real world. Now get out there and start flat-hunting!