Getting accepted into your school of choice is exciting. To prepare for your study experience, you must choose a suitable student housing and accommodation plan. The place you choose should offer the convenience of accessing school resources like the library, class sessions, and support activities like student welfare or co-curricular programs. The distance to the university should also be reasonable to avoid being late for your classes or spending too much on transport.
Remember, finding a good place to live while studying will play a part in your success and forming friendships. For a first-year student, that’ll mean new culture and experiences. So, look for freshman student housing and accommodation with other students within its range. That’ll help you quickly make friends and network. For example, your roommates could be your long-lasting friends and even help you find employment in the future. Further, you’ll experience campus together, reducing the amount of worry and stress.
To ensure you find a perfect residence, below is a guide on what you should look for in your search.
Types Of Student Housing And Accommodation You Can Choose From
Different schools offer varying student accommodation options, as outlined below:
This is the university’s accommodation and is usually within its walls. With this, the university usually opens applications on the portals for you to secure a place. It’s majorly on a first-come, first serve basis. Campus-based student housing is beneficial in the following ways:
- Your safety is guaranteed, given that the university has security guards on premises and restricted access to residence halls.
- You’ll be close to the university’s important buildings like classrooms and labs.
- Socially, you’ll be able to interact with people from different cultures locally and internationally.
However, before deciding, you should check the room location, number of roommates, and size because these vary.
Another accommodation option is to stay with a local family. With this, universities run a program that matches students with a family they deem suitable. The prices will include meals, which could be temporary until you decide where to live.
You may miss out on the university-allocated housing, or they may not be your preference. Then, you can go for privately owned accommodation. The good thing is that they’re always readily available, although this comes at a higher cost. The social scene also has student clusters, and you’ll still feel like you’re within a student community.
Once you’ve understood your accommodation options, it’s time you begin your house hunting process. Note that where you sleep impacts your learning and memory, which generally reflects on your school performance. So, to be assured of getting the best housing deals and a wide range of choices, begin your search early. October is an excellent time to start your search if you’re looking to report at the beginning of the following year.
The places where you can identify your living space include:
- Visiting the school portal and looking at their offers
- Visiting other sites that offer accommodation booking in your school town and going there in person to speak with the owners.
While at it, make the following crucial considerations:
- Your housemates: Living with your agemates is fun, gives you a better experience than on your own, and reduces the rent cost. However, you should be careful with your choice and pick someone you get along with. Don’t sign the lease too early because getting out of it will be hard. Spend time with them before signing anything to be on the safe side.
- View the property: If you find a house you like online, ensure you inspect it keenly before paying up. This is potentially your new home, and you need to be comfortable with it to avoid constant relocation. Speak with the current tenants to get an accurate picture of aspects like cleanliness, how prompt they are on repairs, and many other elements. Don’t just move in because it’s your mate’s next door or the landlord gave you a free pack of beer to lure the unsuspecting you into substandard accommodation!
House hunting can be tedious, but the results are worth it. You can make it fun by going with your friends who can even give you a different opinion.
Making A Choice
Once you’ve seen the houses and flats up for lease, you must choose from the pool. Whether it’s a private, homestay, or on-campus room, use the checklist below to make a worthwhile decision.
- Location: Ensure the house isn’t too far from the school, eateries, pubs, clinics, and other vital amenities. Also, look at the links to public transport to ensure they’re there and you can get to your house safely.
- Security: Your home security is essential. For this, look at the house and ensure it has smoke detectors, burglar alarms, fire extinguishers, door locks, grilled windows, gate security, and solid external doors. This will ensure your personal belongings are secured.
- Electricity and gas: Ensure your chosen house has adequate heating, a working fan, a cooker, and gas fires. Also, look at the safety certificates of the electric and gas appliances to be sure they’ve been checked within the past five years and are in good shape.
- Plumbing: Make sure you look at the drainage of the sinks and bathrooms. Try all the taps to ensure they work, and check the toilet to be sure it flushes and doesn’t leak. Also, check for any signs of pest infestation in the house.
- Furniture: For a furnished house, ensure the furniture is in good condition and is big enough for you and the roommates. Look at the size of the fridge and the number of seats in the house. And for an empty house, ensure the space is sufficient to accommodate the furniture you intend to buy. Also, look at the size of the kitchen or cooking area; make sure it’s enough to store food and cook.
- Aesthetics: Don’t use the inner beauty concept here. Ensure the insides and outsides of the flat are appealing. Look at the roof and confirm if there’s any dampness on the inside. Look at the gutters to see if they’re clean, check the drains to ensure they’re clear, and ensure there isn’t any unsafe and rotting woodwork.
Once you settle on a flat, whatever you agreed on verbally with the landlord, such as more furniture, or rent due dates, ensure you get it in writing to avoid disputes in the future.
Things To Look At In The Contract
When you’ve settled for a specific house, the landlord will ask you to sign the tenancy agreements. Remember, this is a legal document, and you should understand all the clauses. These contracts will vary for university halls and private accommodation.
However, for both, look at:
- The contract length: Most tenancy agreements cover about six months before you can run on monthly payments. Others, like the campus residence, run on a fixed schedule for an academic year. So before signing up, make sure you’re okay with the provisions.
- The rental charges: The agreement you sign should clearly outline the amount of rent, deposit, and when it’s due. Ensure all details are indicated clearly, and there isn’t any extra charge.
- Tenancy agreements: Ensure you know if the deal is joint or individual. Ensure all the names are listed if you intend to live with friends. The contract should be fair, plain, and comprehendible. Remember, most things you agree to in this agreement, you’ll have to follow through. So be careful what you commit to.
Contracts are legally binding; once you sign them, it’s hard to get out of. So, sign what you understand and obtain explanations on the complex parts.
What To Do When Moving In
When moving into your apartment, you must take inventory of what’s in the room and its current state. Taking pictures is also an excellent option for recording purposes. This is your insurance in the future in case of any misunderstanding. Many deposits are being withheld because of missing items in your student residence. Put everything on the list and ensure your landlord signs off on it.
Second, you need to look at the utility payment plan. If you live in a shared house and the tenancy agreement doesn’t cover the utilities like electricity, gas, and telephone, you should devise a payment plan.
You should be concerned about the safety of the house that you live in. Before moving in, look at the following:
- Gas safety: In most states, the law requires landlords to supply gas appliances to you in good condition. Therefore, ask for a copy of the current gas safety records and, in case of any repairs, cooperate with them to have a registered engineer fix your appliance. Also, check to ensure the building has a carbon monoxide alarm in the rooms with stoves, wood, or coal burners.
- Fire safety: Fire accidents do happen. Therefore, ensure precautions are in place, and you have a course of action in the event of a fire. Ensure there are smoke detectors, make a rule of turning everything off when you leave the room and have a fire blanket or extinguisher in the kitchen.
- Electric safety: Naked wires, damaged sockets, and dangerous electric equipment can cause serious injuries or start a fire. Ask the landlord about their last inspection and look at it to ensure it’s true. Further, look around the house yourself for anything that poses a risk.
The significant difference between the various student housing types is the cost and the location. However, the choice criteria are similar for all accommodation options. Use the tips and suggestions herein to select a flat that’ll comfortably house you and make your campus experience memorable.