With all the bustle of the first few months at university it can be hard to think ahead to the next year. You’re still finding your feet and making a whole bunch of friends, so choosing your second year accommodation is probably the last thing on your mind.
Securing the right accommodation can have a major impact on your university experience though, so be prepared and start your search early.
Find out how to get organised, where to look and what to keep in mind with our handy guide.
Know your options
After first year, when the majority of students live in university-owned halls, there are various different options available to you. From rented, shared accommodation in private housing to living in the increasingly popular private halls, it is important to consider what will work best for you.
If you’re looking for a bit more independence, renting a property with a group of friends could be the best option. However, beware of a few potential pitfalls. It is essential to rent from a reputable estate agent. Unfortunately it’s not uncommon for students to face complications with landlords when it comes to paying the bills and fixing repairs. Make sure you ask your university or students’ union for a list of recommendations if you’re unsure.
If you don’t feel comfortable signing contracts for shared accommodation or keeping on top of your bills, private halls are the ideal solution. The great thing about living in halls is that all the paperwork is handled for you, meaning you can cut out on any potential problems from landlords or letting agencies.
Work out your budget
Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, certain options may not be practical. If money is tight, living by yourself is obviously not the most sensible option. Don’t forget all the hidden costs from bills, including internet, TV licence and every student’s nightmare: the central heating.
Teaming up with friends for a shared rental allows you to split the bills and potentially save some money. You need to keep in mind the initial admin costs though which really can add up, as well as any damages that may incur a hefty bill from your landlord.
Some areas of the country are notorious for poor student rental experiences, so if that’s something you are worrying about, private halls might be the perfect match. Dispelling the myth that private halls are super pricey, there are plenty of affordable options in many major cities across the country. These student housing companies often take care of your bills for you, also providing a nice little internet package included in the price of your rent.
Pick the people
Avoid those petty arguments about whose dirty dishes have been on the side for the past week by carefully picking the people you want to live with. There’s no denying that student properties can get a little bit on the messy side, so try to avoid this by ensuring that the people you want to live with will all abide by house rules.
Choosing your friends early on can be scary though. Often the start of the new calendar year is when students secure their accommodation for second year, and if you’re still not feeling settled or haven’t built a strong friendship circle yet, this can be daunting.
Private halls have a fun community vibe which can offer a great way to meet new people and make some amazing friends. This is also a bonus if you’ve been living at home for your first year and are looking to move closer to the university for their second year.
Check the location
You may have found the ideal house share or flat but if it’s miles away from campus it will make that morning commute to lectures a bit harder. Whether you’re at university in one of the UK’s major cities or somewhere slightly smaller you’ll need to know your way around.
For those with a fear of missing out who like to be in the middle of things, private rentals are normally situated close by the university. If you’re looking to save on costs, living a bit outside the centre may help but you’ll need to make sure there are strong transport links to get you in on time.
It’s also worth thinking about the positioning of the property. If you’re a light sleeper or you’re easily distracted, you might not want to live somewhere that’s on a busy and noisy main road or close to train tracks.
Check out the local area too. You’ll regret not having a supermarket just down the road when you run out of milk or bread in the morning.
Let the search begin
Wherever you choose to start your second year, make sure you look around at your options first. Never sign a contract blindly or in a rush. Your university experience matters, right down to whether you’re up all night lying on a springy mattress or dreaming soundly in comfort and warmth.