Booking Student Accommodation? Ask Yourself These Questions First
When selecting student accommodation for uni, you want to make sure you select somewhere you will enjoy living in for at least a school term. When touring a potential flat, there are a number of questions you should consider before you make your decision.
The questions will likely vary depending on the flat, the city, and what you’re looking for, but below are some basic factors you should consider:
How far is it from my uni?
If you will have lessons in person this term, you want to make sure your student accommodation is not too far from your uni. It may be worth it to pay a little extra for a room that is a 5 minute walk from your uni instead of a cheaper one that is 30 minutes on the tube, for example.
How do I get there?
Determine how you would get to and from your student accommodation and your uni every day. If you have a car, is there parking available at the property? Does it cost extra? If you don’t, is it on a tube line? Is it walking distance?
How long does it take?
Remember that you will have to go back and forth between your accommodation and your uni every day that you attend a lecture, so make sure that the journey isn’t too long. A 30 minute journey on the tube to get to your uni is pretty typical depending on the area, but make sure this would work for your schedule.
How long do I need to book for?
Typically, student accommodation in the U.K. is booked based on the number of weeks you will be staying there. The property will be a different price depending on how long you are booking it for, so make sure you are clear on this. You will need to book your accommodation for at least one term.
How much is my cost of living?
Create a student budget before you select the property you’ll be living in. The budget should include monthly costs like rent; utilities such as gas and water; Internet; a monthly parking pass if applicable; groceries from the supermarket; and so on.
Is the property safe and secure?
Make sure to select a student accomodation in a safe neighbourhood. It should be a neighbourhood you feel comfortable walking through at night, especially if you will be taking any courses that get out later in the day when it’s already dark outside. You don’t want to select a dodgy area if you will be having to walk through it at nighttime.
What types of rooms are available?
Determine whether the room you are moving into is a studio or an en suite apartment before you move in.
How many people will be living there?
If the property is not a studio, you will likely have flatmates. This is good as it brings the cost down, but make sure that you are still getting a good deal for what you are paying. For example, if a room seems cheap but you are sharing the flat with eight other people, it might not be as worth it as it seems.
What facilities and amenities are there?
Notice what is included with the property. Is there a gym onsite? Is WiFi included? Make sure you understand exactly what you are paying for before you do it.
Are there appliances and kitchenware included, or will you have to bring your own?
Regardless of which property you choose, you will need kitchen appliances and other common household items such as lamps. You will also need other appliances such as a vacuum, as well as kitchen tools such as pots and pans. When you go to see the property, take note of which appliances they have and which you will have to provide yourself.
Who else lives in the building?
Think about which type of building you would prefer to live in, and then take note of whether or not the student accommodation you are considering is that type of property. For example, how many students live in the building? Is it mostly international students or students from the U.K.? If you are hoping to make new mates or study buddies with the people in your building, selecting a building with other students may be the best way to go.
Are there any booking offers on?
Before you book a room, check to see if there are any offers on at the moment you can take advantage of. Don’t be afraid to call the property manager and ask!
What are the cancellation policies?
Especially in the COVID era, it is important to take note of the cancellation policies of the property in case something happens!
When paying, how many instalments are made? How are they paid?
Make sure you know how many instalments you will have to pay, when you will need to pay each one, and how much it is going to cost! Take note of how the payments are made as well. Do you pay online or with a bank card?
Do I have to pay a deposit?
Some properties require you to pay a tenancy deposit when you rent a room. The deposit will typically be the same amount as rent for 4 or 5 weeks. Please note that it is illegal in the U.K. for your landlord to require a deposit that is more than 5 weeks’ rent. If your yearly rent is more than £50,000, your landlord can legally require a deposit that is equal to the amount of 6 weeks’ rent.
Is the deposit protected?
If the room you are looking at is under an ‘assured shorthold tenancy agreement,’ your landlord will have the right to repossess it at the end of the rental period. Under an ‘assured shorthold tenancy agreement,’ your tenancy deposit is protected until you leave the property. A protected deposit means that when you move out, money owed to you will be returned to you. Make sure that you only move into a building with a protected deposit!
What COVID measures do they have in place for the building?
Is the room regularly cleaned? If it is in a building with other people, are there social distancing measures in the common areas? Are masks required? Decide which safety measures you are most comfortable with, and then make sure that the property has them in place.
Is it close to other places I have to go aside from uni? Work, the supermarket?
Just like you need to make sure the journey between your accommodation and your uni isn’t too long, you also need to make sure the journey is doable between your accommodation and other places you will have to go a lot. Select somewhere to live that is not too far away from supermarkets, your job, and other places you will be visiting frequently. Take note of how you go there - on the tube, on foot, or in the car.
You can use Dorms.com to search student properties in the U.K. based on the factors that matter the most to you. Simply enter your city on the search bar on the first page, as well as the dates you’ll be needing to book. Use the buttons at the top of the page to filter all the properties by price, best for nightlife, best for sightseeing, safest, and so on.