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The Ultimate Student Housing Guide: Everything you need to know

Updated: Nov 9, 2023


Students laughing

As a student, finding the right accommodation can make or break your university experience. It's not just a place to sleep, it's a place where you'll spend a significant portion of your time studying, socialising, and making memories. Whether you're starting your university journey or returning for another year, the process of finding suitable student housing can be daunting and exciting at the same time.


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Our guide will take you through every aspect of student housing, from understanding your needs to exploring different options, and from navigating the search process to settling into your new home. We'll provide you with essential information and advice to help you make informed decisions that align with your preferences, budget, and lifestyle.


Throughout the guide, we'll address common concerns and challenges faced by students, such as living in shared accommodation, ensuring safety and security, maintaining a healthy living space, and moving in and out of your student housing. We'll also provide you with resources and support services that can assist you throughout your housing journey.


By the end of this guide, you'll have the knowledge and confidence to embark on your housing search journey and find a student home that not only meets your practical needs but also becomes a place where you can thrive academically, socially, and personally.



1. Understanding Your Housing Needs


Before you embark on your housing search, it's essential to gain a clear understanding of your specific housing needs and requirements before jumping into the student housing rental process. This will help you make informed decisions and narrow down your options to find the perfect student housing that suits your preferences and lifestyle. In this section, we will explore the key factors to consider when understanding your housing needs.


Location


When choosing a place to live while attending university, it's important to consider the distance from campus. Living within walking distance can save time and money on transportation, while living further away may provide a more quiet environment. Make sure that you are at least close to bus stops which will make getting to campus quick and easy.


Additionally, nearby amenities such as grocery stores, restaurants, libraries, and recreational facilities should be taken into account. The accessibility and convenience of these amenities should also be considered in relation to the location of the housing.


Budget


Setting a realistic budget for your student housing is crucial to ensure financial stability throughout your university years. You should primarily consider the cost of rent and utilities as these will be your biggest outgoings. Calculate how much you can comfortably allocate towards monthly rent and utilities and remember to account for other expenses like electricity, water, internet, and any additional fees. Some housing providers will offer a price with utilities included which is ideal as you'll always know the fixed amount that you have to pay - as well as avoiding the headache of keeping track of every bill and paying on time.


It's also worth evaluating the cost of living in different areas and accommodation types. Keep in mind that prices may vary based on location and the amenities provided.


If required, you can explore financial aid or support options that are available to students, such as scholarships, grants, or bursaries. This can help ease the financial burden of student housing and living.


For even more advice on aspects of good student housing selection, check out our article on things to consider when choosing student housing.

Amenities and Features


Given that you'll be living here for the next several years, think about the amenities and features that are essential to your lifestyle and well-being, and don't compromise on features that may affect your quality of life in any way.


Decide whether furnished or unfurnished is a better fit. Furnished options can save you the hassle of purchasing and transporting furniture, but may cost slightly more. Particularly if you're planning on cooking for own meals, assess the availability and quality of kitchen facilities in the accommodation. A well-equipped kitchen can contribute to a comfortable and convenient living experience.


Something that is often forgotten about is laundry facilities. Check if the accommodation has on-site laundry facilities or if you'll need to seek out nearby laundry services. Consider the convenience and cost of doing your laundry as this can become a regular hassle.


Finally, your safety and peace of mind are paramount. So check that the housing offers adequate security measures, such as alarms or CCTV.


Student house bedroom with led lighting

By carefully considering these factors and understanding your housing needs, you'll be better equipped to narrow down your search and find student accommodation that aligns with your preferences and lifestyle.


2. Navigating the Housing Search Process


Once you have a clear understanding of your housing needs, it's time to embark on the housing search process. This section will guide you through the various steps involved in finding student housing that suits your preferences and budget. From exploring different housing options to conducting property visits, we'll provide you with practical tips and strategies to navigate the housing search process effectively.


Start Early


Begin your housing search as early as possible to increase your chances of finding the ideal accommodation. Many popular student housing options get booked quickly, so it's essential to start your search well in advance. Aim to begin your search at least several months before the start of the academic year.


Determine Your Housing Preferences


When considering student housing options, it's important to explore different types such as university-managed accommodation, private student residences, shared houses, or apartments. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages.


Additionally, you should decide whether you want to live alone or with roommates. Living with roommates can be more social and cost-effective, but be sure to find compatible housemates.


You'll also need to check the duration of the lease or tenancy agreement. Determine if you prefer a short-term or long-term rental commitment based on your study plans and preferences.


Utilise Online Housing Platforms


Take advantage of online housing platforms and websites dedicated to student accommodation. These platforms provide a wide range of housing options, allowing you to filter your search based on location, price, amenities, and other preferences.


Attend Housing Fairs and Events


Check if your university or local community organises housing fairs or events where you can meet with landlords or housing providers directly. These events offer an opportunity to explore multiple housing options, gather information, and ask questions in person.


Conduct Property Visits


Once you shortlist potential accommodations, schedule property visits to get a firsthand look at the housing options. During the visits, assess the condition of the property, check for any damages or maintenance issues, and ensure that it meets your expectations.


Students meeting with housing provider

Review Rental Agreements


Before signing any rental agreements, thoroughly review the terms and conditions. Pay attention to the rent amount, payment schedule, deposit requirements, utility responsibilities, and any additional fees or clauses. Student housing providers will often require a guarantor, so be sure to make arrangements with your potential guarantors well in advance. Seek clarification on any unclear points and make sure you understand your rights and obligations as a tenant.


Seek Recommendations and Reviews


Don't hesitate to seek recommendations from fellow students, friends, or university housing services. Their insights and experiences can provide valuable information and help you make informed decisions. Additionally, read reviews and testimonials about housing options to gather feedback from previous tenants.

By following these steps and strategies, you'll be well-equipped to navigate the housing search process and find student accommodation that meets your needs. In the next section, we'll delve into essential considerations when it comes to securing your chosen housing and preparing for a smooth move-in process.



3. Living in Shared Student Housing


Living in shared accommodation as a student can be an exciting and rewarding experience. It offers the opportunity to make new friends, share responsibilities, and create a vibrant living environment. However, it's important to navigate the dynamics of shared living effectively to ensure a harmonious and enjoyable experience for everyone involved. In this section, we'll explore key aspects of living in shared accommodation, including finding compatible housemates, setting house rules, managing shared expenses, and creating a comfortable living environment.


Finding Compatible Housemates


One of the essential factors in creating a positive living experience is finding compatible housemates. Compatibility goes beyond just shared interests; it also involves effective communication, similar lifestyle preferences, and a willingness to respect each other's boundaries. Here are some tips for finding compatible housemates:


  • Communication Open and honest communication is vital for a successful shared living arrangement. Before moving in, have conversations with potential housemates to discuss expectations, preferences, and any concerns. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and can establish a foundation of clear communication from the start.

  • Lifestyle Compatibility Consider lifestyle factors such as study habits, sleeping patterns, and social activities. It's important to find housemates who have similar preferences to minimise conflicts and ensure a comfortable living environment.

  • Shared Responsibilities Discuss how household chores and responsibilities will be shared among housemates. Having a clear understanding and agreement on the division of tasks can help prevent misunderstandings and maintain a clean and organised living space.

Students hanging out in their livingroom

Setting House Rules and Resolving Conflicts


To maintain a harmonious living environment, it's crucial to establish house rules and guidelines that everyone agrees upon. This can include rules regarding noise levels, guests, cleanliness, and privacy. Setting these rules early on will help prevent potential conflicts and ensure that everyone's needs and boundaries are respected.


In the case conflicts do arise, encourage open and respectful communication when addressing conflicts. Create a safe space for housemates to express their concerns and actively listen to each other's perspectives. Finding common ground and seeking compromises can help reach resolutions that satisfy everyone involved.


If conflicts persist, consider involving a neutral third party, such as a resident adviser or housing coordinator, to mediate the situation. They can provide


guidance, facilitate discussions, and help find solutions that are fair to all parties.


Managing Shared Expenses


Managing shared expenses is an essential aspect of living in shared accommodation. It's important to establish a fair and transparent system for dividing and managing costs.


It's usually best to determine how utility bills, such as electricity, water, and internet, will be divided among housemates. Consider using apps or online platforms that help track and split expenses evenly. You'll also need to decide whether you will have a shared grocery fund or if each housemate will be responsible for their own groceries. Alternatively, you can rotate grocery shopping duties to ensure fairness.

One aspect of living in shared accommodation that can oftentimes spark disagreements is household chores. It's important to establish a system for managing household chores early, such as creating a chore schedule or using a task management app. This will ensure that responsibilities are shared equally, the living space is kept clean and tidy, and no one feels like other housemates aren't pulling their weight.


Creating a Comfortable Living Environment


When living in shared accommodation, respect each other's personal spaces and boundaries. Encourage open communication about privacy needs and establish guidelines for entering each other's rooms or borrowing personal belongings.


Foster a sense of community by maintaining shared spaces, such as the living room, kitchen, and bathroom, in a clean and organised manner. Encourage housemates to contribute to the upkeep of these areas.


It can also help to allow each housemate to personalise their individual spaces and contribute to the decoration of common areas if permitted to. This can help create a sense of belonging and make the accommodation feel like home.


By proactively addressing these aspects of shared living, you can cultivate a positive and enjoyable living environment in your student accommodation. If this is an area of the process that you're particularly focused on, check out our article on finding perfect housemates for second year student housing.


4. Student Housing Safety and Security


Ensuring the safety and security of your student housing is crucial for your peace of mind and well-being. In this section, we'll explore important considerations and practical measures to maintain a secure living environment. From assessing the safety of the neighbourhood and property to implementing personal safety measures, fire safety precautions, and protecting your belongings, we'll cover key aspects to help you feel safe and protected in your student accommodation.


Assessing the Safety of the Neighbourhood and Property


Before moving into a student housing property, it's essential to assess the safety of the neighbourhood and the property itself. Research the neighbourhood's safety reputation and crime rates. Look for areas with good lighting, well-maintained surroundings, and a low incidence of criminal activity. It's also helpful to talk to current or previous tenants to get their perspectives on safety concerns.


Pay attention to the security features of the property, including the quality of locks on doors and windows, the presence of security cameras or alarms, and the overall condition of the building. Ensure that the property meets your safety expectations and that any potential concerns are addressed by the landlord or property management.


Student unlocking door with key

Implementing Personal Safety Measures


Taking proactive measures to enhance personal safety is crucial. Ensure that all entry points, including doors and windows, have secure and functioning locks. If the locks are not up to standard, consider discussing with the landlord or property management to have them upgraded.


Keep a list of emergency contacts readily accessible also, including the local police, fire department, and medical services. Additionally, note down the contact information of your landlord or property management for immediate assistance in case of emergencies or safety concerns.


Fire Safety Precautions and Awareness


Fire safety should never be overlooked. Familiarise yourself with fire safety measures and take the following precautions:


  • Smoke Alarms and Fire Extinguishers Ensure your student housing has functioning smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Test the alarms regularly and familiarise yourself with their operation. If any issues are identified, promptly report them to the landlord or property management.

  • Emergency Exits Familiarise yourself with the location of emergency exits in your accommodation. Keep these exits clear and unobstructed at all times. In case of a fire or other emergencies, follow the designated evacuation routes.

  • Fire Prevention Be mindful of potential hazards to prevent fires. Avoid overloading electrical outlets, unattended cooking, and the use of candles or open flames. Be responsible when using electrical appliances and follow safety guidelines.


Tips for Securing Your Belongings and Protecting Against Theft


Protecting your personal belongings is essential. Use the following tips to ensure that your belongings are safe and sound:

  • Lock Doors and Windows Always lock your doors and windows when you leave your student accommodation, even if you'll be gone for a short period. This simple step can significantly reduce the risk of theft.

  • Keep Valuables Out of Sight Keep valuable items, such as laptops, tablets, and jewellery, securely stored when not in use. Consider marking your belongings with an identifiable mark or engraving for easier recovery in case of theft.

  • Utilise Room Security If your accommodation provides individual room locks, utilise them to add an extra layer of security. Ensure that your roommates also practice responsible security measures.

  • Get Personal Property Insurance Consider obtaining personal property insurance to protect your belongings against theft, damage, or loss. Review different insurance options available to find the



5. Maintaining a Healthy and Productive Living Space


Creating a healthy and productive living environment is essential for your overall well-being and academic success. In this section, we'll explore practical tips and strategies to help you maintain a clean and organised living space, create a study-friendly atmosphere, manage stress, and foster positive relationships with your neighbours.


Cleaning and Organising Tips for a Clutter-Free Environment


A clean and organised living space can significantly impact your productivity and mental well-being, so it's important to establish a cleaning schedule to ensure that your living space remains tidy. Divide tasks such as dusting, vacuuming, and bathroom cleaning among your housemates or create a rotating cleaning schedule.


Regularly assess your belongings and declutter unnecessary items. Donate or recycle items that you no longer need or use. Keeping your living space free from clutter can help create a more peaceful and organised atmosphere. To keep the house tidy, make full use of all storage solutions such as shelves, bins, and containers to keep your belongings organised. Labelling storage containers can make it easier to find items when needed.


Creating a Study-Friendly Atmosphere


Having a designated study area is vital for maintaining focus and productivity. Consider the following tips to create a study-friendly atmosphere in your student accommodation:

  • Choose a Quiet Space Select a quiet area in your accommodation where you can concentrate without distractions. If possible, choose a location away from high-traffic areas or noisy common spaces.

  • Ergonomic Setup Ensure that your study area is ergonomically designed to promote good posture and minimise discomfort. Use a comfortable chair, a suitable desk height, and proper lighting to reduce eye strain.

  • Personalise Your Space Add personal touches to your study area that inspire and motivate you. Hang motivational quotes or display photos of loved ones to create a positive and uplifting environment.

Tidy desk

Managing Stress and Promoting Well-being in Your Living Space


Your living space should be a sanctuary that promotes relaxation and well-being. One method to help relaxation is to create a relaxation zone. Set aside a specific area in your accommodation dedicated to relaxation. This could be a cosy corner with comfortable seating, soft lighting, and calming elements such as plants or essential oil diffusers.


Practising mindfulness may also help to reduce stress and deal with anxiety or depression. Incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine. Set aside a few minutes each day for meditation, deep breathing exercises, or journaling to reduce stress and promote mental clarity. And if mindfulness isn't your thing, other meditative and physical techniques could be incorporated to help you to unwind and relax, like yoga or resistance training.


Try decorating your living space with items that bring you joy and positivity. Incorporate colours, artwork, or objects that have a calming effect on your mood.


Student practising yoga

Developing Good Neighbourly Relations


Building positive relationships with your neighbours can enhance your living experience. Try to be mindful of noise levels, especially during quiet hours, and respect the personal space and privacy of your neighbours. Avoid engaging in activities that may disturb others.


You could also get involved in community events or initiatives organised within your student accommodation. This can provide opportunities to connect with your neighbours and build a sense of community. With this, maintain open and respectful communication with your neighbours. If conflicts arise, address them promptly and seek peaceful resolutions through dialogue and compromise.


By implementing these strategies, you can maintain a healthy, productive, and harmonious living space in your student accommodation. To maximise productivity during your time at University, check out our article on goal setting and achieving more.


6. Moving In and Moving Out


Moving in and moving out of your student accommodation can be exciting yet challenging. In this section, we'll guide you through the process, from preparing for the move to settling into your new home and transitioning between housing during academic breaks.


Preparing for the Move


Moving requires careful planning and organisation to ensure a smooth transition. Consider the following tips when preparing for the move:

  • Create a Packing Plan Make a detailed packing plan to stay organised. Start packing non-essential items early and label boxes according to their contents and designated rooms in your new accommodation.

  • Coordinate Logistics Arrange transportation for your belongings and coordinate with your housemates to ensure a coordinated move-in schedule. If necessary, book a moving company or rent a van.

  • Essential Checklist Create a checklist of essential items you'll need for your new accommodation. This may include bedding, kitchenware, toiletries, and any specific items required by your accommodation provider.


Settling into Your New Home


Once you've arrived at your new student accommodation, there are several key steps to help you settle in comfortably. Start by unpacking the essential items you'll need immediately, such as bedding, toiletries, and kitchenware. Gradually unpack and organise the remaining items over the following days.


Next, you'll need to contact the relevant utility providers to set up essential services such as electricity, gas, water, and internet. Make sure to take meter readings and inform the providers of your move-in date. You could skip this step if your housing provider covers utilities within their accommodation.


Once you're unpacked and set up, take the opportunity to introduce yourself to your neighbours and start building connections. Engaging in friendly conversations and establishing a sense of community can enhance your living experience.

Smiling student meeting his neighbours

Moving Out


When it's time to move out of your student accommodation, there are certain steps you can take to ensure a smooth departure. Clean your accommodation thoroughly before moving out. Pay attention to areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, and common spaces. Follow any specific cleaning guidelines provided by your accommodation provider.


Familiarise yourself with the deposit return process and ensure that your accommodation is in good condition to receive your deposit back. Take photos or videos of the property as evidence of its condition. Also, review your rental agreement and make sure you understand the requirements for terminating your tenancy. Provide proper notice and follow the necessary procedures outlined in the agreement.


Transitioning Between Housing


During academic breaks or when transitioning between different housing arrangements, you'll need to store your belongings elsewhere and make other arrangements. If you need to temporarily store your belongings during breaks, research local storage facilities or explore options for storage with friends or family.


If you'll be transitioning between different student accommodations, communicate with both the current and future providers to coordinate move-in and move-out dates. This way you'll have a smooth transition and can have everything lined up that needs to be.


Plan your travel arrangements and ensure the safety of your belongings during these transitions. Take necessary precautions to secure your personal belongings and inform relevant parties of your plans.


By following these steps for moving in and moving out, you can make the process less stressful and focus on settling into your new student housing.


7. Resources and Support


When it comes to student housing, there are various resources and support systems available to help you navigate the process and address any concerns that may arise. In this section, we'll explore some of these resources and avenues for support.


University Housing Services and Student Support Centres


Most universities have dedicated housing services and student support centres that can provide valuable assistance throughout your housing journey. These services may offer:

  • Accommodation Guidance University housing services can help you find suitable accommodation options, whether it's on-campus residences or recommended off-campus housing.

  • Housing Application Support They can guide you through the housing application process, provide information about deadlines, and answer any questions you may have.

  • Conflict Resolution If issues arise between you and your housemates or with your accommodation provider, student support centres can offer mediation services to help resolve conflicts.

  • Housing Advice and Information These services can provide resources and advice on various aspects of student housing, including rights and responsibilities, tenancy agreements, and safety guidelines.


Online Forums, Communities, and Social Media Groups for Housing Advice


A wealth of information and support for students seeking housing advice can be found online. Joining online forums, communities, and social media groups specific to student housing can provide access to great resources.


You could seek to connect with fellow students who have gone through similar housing experiences. Ask for their advice, ask questions, and learn from their insights on the matter.


Many platforms also share tips and tricks that will give you an edge going into your new living arrangements. These platforms are often filled with valuable tips and recommendations regarding housing options, budgeting, property management, and more.


Online platforms and groups can also serve as valuable resources for finding available rental listings, roommate searches, and sublet opportunities.


Student researching on her laptop

Financial Assistance Programs and Scholarships Related to Student Housing


Financial constraints can often be a concern for students when it comes to housing expenses. Explore various financial assistance programs and scholarships that specifically cater to student housing needs. These may include:

  • Bursaries and Grants Some universities and external organisations offer financial assistance in the form of bursaries or grants to help cover housing costs. Research available options and eligibility criteria.

  • Housing Scholarships Look for housing-specific scholarships that are designed to support students with their accommodation expenses. These scholarships may be offered by the university or external organisations.

  • Student Loans and Financial Aid Familiarise yourself with the student loan programs and financial aid options available to you. These resources can help ease the financial burden of student housing.


By utilising these resources and seeking support from university housing services, student support centres, online communities, and financial assistance programs, you can access the guidance and support needed to navigate the student housing journey more effectively.


Conclusion


Throughout this guide, we've emphasised the importance of thorough research and planning when it comes to student housing. From understanding your budget and financial considerations to exploring different accommodation options, you now have the knowledge and tools to approach your housing search with confidence.


We've discussed the significance of factors such as location, amenities, and proximity to your university campus in finding the right accommodation that suits your needs and preferences. Additionally, we've highlighted the importance of maintaining healthy housemate relationships, creating a conducive living environment, and prioritising safety and security.


We've also touched upon essential aspects like budgeting, maintaining a productive living space, and the resources and support available to students. By utilising these resources and seeking assistance when needed, you can enhance your overall housing experience.


Remember, the student housing journey is a unique and transformative time in your life. Approach it with open-mindedness, adaptability, and a proactive attitude. Take advantage of the opportunities to connect with fellow students, immerse yourself in the community, and create lasting memories.


With the knowledge gained from this guide, we encourage you to make informed decisions, trust your instincts, and embark on your student housing journey with confidence. Best of luck in finding and creating your ideal home away from home!

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