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How Do Students Choose Their Accommodation For University
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How Do Students Choose Their Accommodation For University

Written by Sam | May 3, 2021

When searching for student accommodation there are plenty of options, especially in the private sector but how do you choose your student accommodation for university?

If you are in first year and opt to stay in university halls, then you will be allocated a place in a room.

If you are an international student that wants to go in to private student accommodation or you are a first year going in to second year, here are some ways you can choose your accommodation.

Moving From First Year to Second Year

When you are looking at where and what to live in next, make some decisions about the following points:

  • Who you want to live with
  • Price
  • Location
  • Bills included
  • En-suite

From then you can start deciding on your options.

I would say a lot of options are dictated by those options above and I will go in to those a bit more.

Who you want to live with – This or the amount of beds you need dictates a lot of decisions. Because if there is a group of three, then you need a three bedroomed house and that can narrow down the options a lot without digging in to the other factors.

It’s very hard to remove people from your group and adding to the group can be hit and miss if you don’t know the other person!

A lot of places only accept groups of people rather than individuals and you will have to have this group sorted before you start viewing!

However, knowing who you want to live with is, is a very good first step in the right direction!

Price – Next, if you know you need a 3 bed, the other thing is what price can you afford? You need to suss this out and then take out any that are over your limit. This should leave you with some solid houses to view.

Make sure you calculate, weekly, monthly and yearly rent and add in any bills. Plus don’t forget to add in your living expenses. There is no point living in a grand place and having to live off nothing because you spend it all on rent.

For bills, I would always work on the higher side because you know you will be able to afford it, if it’s less then you can save that money or put it towards something you want! However, if you get a hefty bill and can’t afford it, then it’s hard to magic money!

Location – Each student will have an area they want to live in. Some factors can be being close to the university, transport, center of the city and other students. The location is important because if you are in a bad place, it magnifies the situation, even if it is a really nice house.

When you are viewing the house, make sure you take a look at what is around the house, what is within walking distance, and when you go home, can you access it by car or train easily?

Location is an important factor to look at because it really can make your life a lot easier if everything is around you or simple to get to!

Bills Included – I would argue that this causes a lot of friction between housemates because if they aren’t included then someone has to take charge of the bills, pay the whole amount up front and then ask for it back after it is paid.

Most don’t like to talk about money, especially when it’s a debt! What makes it worse is that if someone else can’t afford it.

Communication is key here, this is why many go to companies, like Glide to set up and split their bills for them and then bill each student individually, however, it does cost a management fee, which is reasonable.

When you are looking for student accommodation make sure that you aware if bills are included or not. If they aren’t make sure that you as a group are willing to do it yourself or out source it.

Finally, on bills, if you are doing it yourself, meter readings are key, make sure you know where the meters are, and then submit your readings to make sure you avoid having to pay a lot in the first few months while they calculate your average amount.

En-suite Rooms – A lot of students at the minute like to have rooms that come with their own en-suite. It all boils down to hygiene and having your own space.

This is a factor that is getting more and more weighting when it comes to students and you can see why, because it’s just not nice sharing with someone who doesn’t look after it the way you would.

Choosing Private Student Accommodation as a First Year

If you want to live in private student accommodation as a first-year and you don’t want to live in university halls then here are the decisions students make choosing their accommodation.

  • Location
  • Room size & quality
  • En-suite
  • Social Events
  • Student Welfare
  • Added Extras
  • Price

Location – This is similar to above, but with a few little tweaks. When you are looking at this type of student accommodation, these are all pretty much based in the city centre or very close to it.

You can get some that are further out, however, most will only buy in the centre or close to the university.

When choosing one most will look what it is close to, does have good access to transport, commute to university, time to the centre for nights out and meals. They look at the accessibility and will it promote life as a student or make it harder because it is tucked away in a corner.

You will only really truly know this when you get there and see, however, to help decide, it is worth going on Google Maps and watching a few videos of what is around the accommodation.

Secondly, location can mean how far it is away from the airport or train stations when you are flying in. Making sure that it is easily accessible to get to and from train stations and airports when you need to get home.

Room Size & Quality – Understanding the size of the room will know how much space you will have in there for you to essentially live, especially if it is a studio.

If you are living in an apartment your room can be slightly smaller because you have a place to live and eat and somewhere to cook.

Some rooms can be particularly small and this means you haven’t got much space to put belongings or even have friends over!

By quality most students are looking at what is in the room, how is it designed, is it just pained all one colour, is the en-suite big enough, is the kitchen just a small area and is there even a place to sit down and have your meals?

Quality looks at the layout of the room, the functionality of the room and what the room consists of. Have they just muddled it together with bits of furniture or have they thought about the design and how it will look and feel as a student in there!

En-suite – The simple question to this is, does it have one!? This is if you are looking at living in an apartment. Most are en-suites and they do have en-suites in your room. However, some don’t and it will be advertised, usually at a cheaper rate.

On the flip side, no en-suite does mean that you get more space!

Social Events – Something that people look for is what events does the accommodation team run? Not every student accommodation block will have an accommodation manager, however, if they do, what events are they running?

It’s not every night, but each week or month having something to get involved in is good, especially as an international student because you will start to meet other people there and make friends.

You will most likely find all their events on their social media. Most places will have something each week at the minimum and they are all usually based within their own building which makes it easy and convenient.

The events are normally all free as well and is a good opportunity to make sure that you get value for your rent which you pay.

Student Welfare – This is a mix between a few points, however, if you live in a studio it can be quite isolating at times. This is all based around what the accommodation does to make sure you are mentally well!

There are many aspects here, just some can be, room size, amount of light, design, social events, support, friends, groups and university experience.

How can you tell if they really care about your welfare as a student? Here are some points that I look for:

  • Exercise classes
  • Social events
  • Bright rooms
  • Good communication

Look at what they control and run to see how they support student welfare.

Added Extras – This is probably my favourite part because this can really separate the good from the really good.

Many students will look at what you get within you rent and then compare between accommodations, for example you can find places that have some or all of the below:

  • Gym
  • Games rooms
  • Cinema
  • Study rooms
  • Free breakfast
  • Free coffee
  • Bikes to use

There are and will be much more than that, however, most accommodations will offer some of these and try and compete with each other.

When you are looking this does come in to play because you could save yourself some money, however, don’t get caught out. A games room can be football table and that’s it and the gym can be purely cardio machines.

When searching look at what they have in each of these areas and compare with other accommodations to see who has the best facilities.

All of these places are likely to have bills included and that is why I haven’t included it in any of these posts because it is a constant.

Price – There can be varying prices across all the room types in accommodation, choose the one that gives you most value. This does determine a lot of students rooms. Make sure you know what your budget is before you start searching because you can easily end up spending more than you can afford!

Summary

When students choose their accommodation, they take a lot of things in to account. By recent studies from KnightFrank and other places, value and location come first and second on these lists.

Value means that you feel like you get a good deal for your money, which is why many try and pack in all the added extras for students.

Secondly is location, this can be hard because there is only a certain amount of housing in an area. Make sure you are quick if you find a great place because a lot of the time they don’t hang around for long.

When you start looking, make sure you have the basics in the bullet points above and then you an start building the pictures of the place you want to finally live in!

If you have an questions, please just ask!

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