Getting your student accommodation right is the first step in one of the most exciting and productive periods of your life. As a fresher, you’ll want to know how to find accommodation as quickly and efficiently as possible while being aware of how to avoid potential nightmare scenarios.
Luckily, whether you’re a student at BIMM Music Institute, Screen and Film School, ICTheatre or Performers College, we’ve compiled the ultimate accommodation guide with some helpful tips and resources to help you get the strongest start to student living.
First and foremost, choose an area that suits your needs. Your accommodation should be within a comfortable commute from your campus, with access to public transport links and essential amenities such as grocery shops, supermarkets, and libraries. If you have friends or family in the city, ask for advice on the best areas to live.
Estate agents and private landlords
Unlike some other universities, BIMM University doesn’t have halls of residence. But there’s plenty of help available for you when finding a place to live. To begin your search, you’ll most likely need to enlist the help of a letting agency or go down the route of a private landlord.
When choosing an agent, shop around. Check websites, socials, and forums for testimonials and feedback. Ensure you’re well-informed before parting with any cash. Remember, agency fees and property deposits are standard, but you’ll get the deposit back if the property remains in good condition.
Finding testimonials and track records for private landlords can be tricky. But most good landlords will be happy to provide honest answers to questions regarding their property. If a utility like a washing machine or shower looks unfit for purpose, mention it!
Depending on the size of the house/flat, you may also find that rent payments and fees tend to be lower via a private landlord than through a letting agent.
Remember, a little common sense goes a long way when looking at properties. If the rent seems ridiculously low, be sure to ask what the catch is. Likewise, if a property seems overpriced, ask yourself whether you think it’s worth it. Once you’ve found a place you like, be sure to get any official agreements such as deposit/rent figures and length of term down in writing with signatures.
Damp and mould
No one wants to live in a mouldy property. It can cost you money by spreading to your furniture/clothes/equipment and can be very damaging to your overall health.
If you find dampness or mould anywhere on the interior of the property, mention it to your landlord/agent as soon as possible and don’t let go of the issue until they sort it!
Top tips for viewing properties
Here are some essential tips to consider when viewing properties:
- View a property at least twice to catch any issues.
- Take someone with you for extra safety.
- Visit the area at night with company.
- Ensure all your potential housemates view the property.
- Compare different landlords and properties.
- Don’t rush; there are plenty of good properties available.
- Take notes and photos during your visits.
- Be informed about your rights, which can help you negotiate more effectively.
Managing bills and budgeting
Utility bills and council tax (if applicable) might not be the most exciting part of student life, but neglecting them can lead to problems down the road. If you’re responsible for the bills, ensure your housemates don’t leave you to shoulder the burden alone. Set up direct debits and stay on top of your bills to prevent any financial headaches.
Budgeting is crucial. While the temptation to splurge when your student loan arrives is strong, losing track of your finances can have dire consequences. Create a monthly budget and stick to it. There are apps and services designed to save you money and student discounts to take advantage of.
Get yourself an NUS card to take advantage of student discounts, and check out this list of super useful links for a bit of money-saving inspiration.
Toogoodtogo.co.uk – A great money-saving app that gives you serious discounts on delicious food!
Plum – Monitors your spending and automatically sets money aside for you.
PayFriendz – This little baby takes all the stress out of splitting the restaurant bill between friends.
MySupermarket – Find the best prices for every item on your grocery list across multiple stockists.
MusicMagpie – Turn your unwanted CDs, DVDs, books and games into cold, hard cash!
Parkopedia – If you’re lucky enough to drive your own car whilst being a student, then this app will save you a packet by locating free parking wherever you are!
Whether you’re lucky enough to be moving in with friends or you’re living with a bunch of strangers, it’s important to remember that your housemates play a pivotal role in your overall student experience. They have the power to make your home life a living nightmare or an absolute pleasure.
Stick to this short list of ground rules, and your relationships with housemates are guaranteed to flourish.
1. Respect each other.
Treat your housemates the way you’d like to be treated. Simple! This includes respecting their personal space, not eating their food and not being unreasonable with shared spaces.
We all come from different backgrounds, right? Some of us may have been encouraged to clean up after ourselves whilst growing up, whilst others may have been a little more… pampered. Either way, a good technique to avoid squabbling over things like washing up/cleaning is to call a house meeting early on to discuss how best to approach the subject as housemates.
Remember, most of you will be living away from home for the first time. And for some, this can be quite a stressful experience. Be sensitive to the fact that some people may require a little extra help/guidance on this transition to independence.
4. Go out and party!
The fact is there’s a good chance you’ll be making friends for life with the people you share a house with at this stage. So, go and make the most of it! Get out there and make some unforgettable memories. And above all, enjoy yourself.
You can meet potential housemates by posting on your campus-specific Facebook groups, as mentioned in the accommodation guides.
Finding the right student accommodation involves careful planning, thorough research, and good communication. Follow these tips, make use of available resources, and you’ll be on your way to a successful and enjoyable student life. Happy house hunting!