Making the switch from student halls to a private rented property

Moving from student halls to a private rented property when you come to the end of your first year at uni can be as big a jump as leaving your family home to go into halls. This means it pays to be prepared when you’re getting ready to make this transition.

 From budgeting for extra bills to selecting suitable accommodation, keep reading for useful pointers to help you make the switch.

 If you’ve got your own student accommodation stories or tips you’d like to share, join the conversation online using the hashtag #MyFirstRentalHome.

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Prepare for the extra bills

One thing you need to keep at the forefront of your mind is the extra bills you’ll need to pay. Although some private student lets do include these extra costs within the rental fee, many don’t. This means you may well have to leave room in your budget to pay for gas, electricity, water and internet. So, when you’re searching for a property, make sure you check exactly what’s included in the rent, and factor any bills in on top of your rent when you’re deciding what you can afford.

You’ll probably also need to provide a deposit before you move in, and if you’re dealing with a letting agent, there are likely to be admin fees too.

If you’re sharing your rental home with others, it’s important to establish who’s responsible for paying which bills at the outset - and that everyone knows how and when to pay these bills.

Budget


How to budget 

Let’s face it, many students have to survive on a shoestring financially. The key to staying afloat is to manage your budget effectively.

 This means adding up your income from: 

  • Student loans, grants, scholarships, sponsorships or bursaries
  • Paid work
  • Savings you’ve allocated to your time at uni
  • Money provided by your family

 And taking off essential outgoings, such as: 

  • Rent for your house or flat
  • Household bills, such as internet, gas and electric
  • Tuition fees
  • Contents insurance
  • Phone bill
  • Food
  • Travel costs 

Choose your accommodation carefully

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When the clock’s ticking and you need to choose accommodation for the next academic year, it’s easy to panic and make a rushed decision. This can be a big mistake though. Moving into a house or flat that’s not the right fit for you can seriously harm your studies, so it’s important that you make a considered choice.

Here are some pointers to bear in mind:

If you’re sharing accommodation, choose flatmates who you get on with and who share your priorities. For example, if tidiness is important to you, try to avoid people who don’t mind mess. Look for flatmates who share your work ethic too. 

  • Look for a place that’s within easy reach of campus. You don’t want to spend half your days traipsing around town getting to and from lectures. 
  • Choose a house or flat that has a good broadband connection. Slow or unreliable internet can really put the brakes on your learning. 
  • Make sure the property’s legal. Most shared student properties require a house in multiple occupation (HMO) licence, so check this out before you sign a tenancy agreement. Also, make sure your landlord or letting agent provides a gas safety certificate, energy performance certificate and deposit protection certificate before you agree to move in. Check that the property complies with fire safety regulations too. 
  • Keep a look out for a list of approved, student-friendly landlords and letting agents provided by your university. This is usually a good way to find suitable accommodation. 
  • Start searching for accomodation early on to give yourself as much time as possible to find the right place.

 

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