Uni’s back! Kinda…
That escalated quickly. Then deescalated. Then escalated again.
As we transition out of the worst (hopefully) of the pandemic, in-person learning is set to return to universities and colleges across the UK. Although summer has been slow in arriving this year, you can guarantee that Autumn will be here before you can blink and with it the start of the new academic year.
Enough news articles have been dedicated to coronavirus and its impact to last us all several lifetimes. With the impending return of some face-to-face classes, many students are now refamiliarising themselves with the university towns that they will once again call home from September.
To celebrate this small slice of normality that we’re about to reclaim, we’ve created a list of key do’s and don’ts when it comes to choosing your university accommodation outside of student halls. We’ve all lost a year to the pandemic, so its important not to lose another one to bad choices. None of us want to end up back at Mum and Dad’s again, so;
- Start looking now
- Make sure you consider what facilities are on offer
- Think about how close you need to be to campus and work opportunities
- Be budget smart and CHECK what’s included with your new place
If you haven’t already, now’s the second-best time to get your uni digs sorted. Its basic supply and demand really – the more that students start to realise that living close to campus is going to be necessary, the less available accommodation options will become. Don’t be that mate who is desperately couch-surfing in September, by looking now you’re putting yourself in the best seat to max out the value you can get for the money you’ve got.
Google is your friend here but remember it has limits. Don’t get sucked in by the first set of photographs you see. In-person viewings are permitted again and you’ll simply never know how old photos are. Shortlist your preferred options, research their reviews, look into the provider or agency and then research them as well. Finally – book a viewing. Even if its miles away, book one.
If you’re considering purpose-built student accommodation, then you can find some fantastic buildings that have great facilities that will come in handy. If your building has a gym – boom, there’s £30 a month saved. We all enjoy a common space that has more than just an air-hockey table from the late 90’s.
Facilities are bolt-ons that developers and commercial landlords invest in to attract students to their buildings, and they all do it differently. Think about which ones are important to you – it might be lots of common study areas, it may on-site rec facilities. Whatever it is – it is the little wins and small things that make up the university experience, so it is well worth your time to make sure your new building has what’s going to work best for you.
Location, location, location
It’s not just how close you are to campus. Think of it as living close to work when you’re older – having a shorter commute is nice, but you don’t want to build your life around a short trip to the office.
Consider where the local hotspots, entertainment and retail precincts are. Look at the transport links. Bus-stop right out front? Win – that makes life easier, especially if you’re prone to a cheeky lie-in.
Are there lots of businesses close by where you might be able to pick up a shift or two? What’s the general feel of the area? Is it more Geordie Shore or more like Trainspotting? Once you are settled into the new year you won’t be spending all of the time in your building – you’ll be out and about, making new mates, creating memories and causing mischief. The general area and how central it is to those things that matter to you is an important consideration when finding the right place.
It’s a thing. Having a great place is nice, but being broke isn’t.
Not all buildings or providers deliver an all-inclusive service for a fixed fee – some of them have even developed their business model out of on-selling or up-selling services that you might think are included.
Read through any potential contract before you sign. If you’re not sure about something, ask the provider. If you’re still not sure, don’t sign anything – its better to be safe than sorry.
Key things to make sure are included in your accommodation fee, or to make sure you have properly budgeted for;
- Laundry services (if no individual utility services in-place)
- Gym memberships
- Assistance with council tax exemption
- Bike storage or car parking
It’s the add ons that get you.
This is meant to be fun. It is fun. But part of studying means doing your research and sadly that’s a part of adulting too. Don’t get stung by signing on for something you haven’t looked into properly – you’ve had a hard enough time over the last year or so as it is!