As i am studying a postgraduate course and I have already had the experience of living in university halls during my undergrad degree, I chose to live in private accommodation. Here is my advice on making the decision about where to live whilst you are studying….
Do not commit to a year with people you don’t like (or don’t feel as though you can live with for at least 12 months). It is far better to have the awkward ‘I’m not sure we should live together…it’s not you, it’s me…I feel living together may strain our friendship’ conversation than to have a year of actually living with them and constantly biting your tongue at their infuriating living habits.
Make sure you are committing to an agreement that you are comfortable with and are confident you will be able to manage financially. You do not want to be approaching your rent payment date with £2.57 left in your student overdraft, so try to budget your finances to avoid having to phone up your parents to beg them to bail you out. However, if you are experiencing financial hardship, please do speak to the student support services. They can advise and help you with almost every problem that you may face during your studies.
Shop around. I know the general trend is that students must endure a mad rush in early spring to secure their next home, but in a student city like Manchester, it is highly unlikely that you will be without somewhere to live next September because you spent an extra week exploring your options. Make sure you find something that you can live in for at least 12 months. If you decide to pick any old hovel then you will regret it so much when the mould starts growing behind your headboard and the mice find a way in.
When you view the property, ask the estate agent as many questions as possible. If the tenants are in whilst you are looking around, even better, ask them questions about the property…what they like about living here and what they don’t like – the current tenants views are far more telling than an estate agents script.
Can you live without central heating? Electric heaters cost on average 3x more than gas central heating. Manchester gets cold! Can you afford to heat your new home enough to stop you from seeing your own breath at 3x the cost of central heating? I definitely can’t, and made the mistake of renting a flat with electric heating. Let’s just say it has been an expensive winter.
You could be lucky and rent a place with bills included in the price of rent. These are a great option as you don’t have to stress yourself out adding up various bills each month, and you will know exactly how much money is coming out of your account, and you know that everything is covered. A lot of student accommodation offers bills included, so do shop around to see what is out there. Speak to Manchester Student Homes for advice, they are a free, university-run housing service for students.
Even if you do not plan to secure your new home until a few months down the line, it never hurts to explore Rightmove and see what kind of properties are out there. You may find a deal too good to pass up on.
Think about location. Do you really want to be on a bus for an hour and a half every morning just to make it to your 9am lecture? You would have to wake up at like, 6am…no student needs that.
It will make you more likely to skip lectures, and you investing a lot of money for your education. Even if the rent is dirt cheap, you need to explore the practicalities of your new home. If you are planning to opt for a place a little further out, then please consider the transport links. Fallowfield is a great hub for students…and you can hop on a Magic Bus and be at uni in less than 20 minutes for £1.50. Sorted.
Just be sensible and remember that you actually have to live in this place so take it seriously.