By Vicky Witts | Advice Editor
Whether you are a first-year student living in halls or a student who will be returning next year to continue their studies, arranging where to live and who to live with can seem like an impossible task. There are some tips however, that can make the prospect of renting for the first time seem less daunting.
When to start looking
There is no right or wrong time to start looking for student housing, and when you decide to start looking can depend on your own individual circumstances. Some people start securing housing for second or third year as early as November or December, however, if you don’t know who to live with next year or aren’t ready to start looking, there should be no pressure to commit to anything so quickly. Housing companies will always have housing available, and sometimes don’t release houses until early into the next year, so it is untrue to suggest that if you do not act quickly, you will not get a good house.
Although it can be good to start browsing company websites so you can get an idea of what you want from a house and what to look out for, you should wait to commit to a house until you feel that you are ready, as most people will have to live with the house and people that they chose to live with for the whole of the next academic year.
Who should I live with?
Deciding who to live with can be difficult, especially within the current coronavirus pandemic, as many first-year students may not have had much opportunity to meet new people around university due to isolation or government restrictions. It might therefore seem easy to just live with the same people that you did in your first year which is perfectly fine if you find that you get on well with them all. However, you should also consider that private housing comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you may feel that living with a smaller or greater number of people sounds more appealing to you.
Living with other friends or course-mates is also an option for many people, however, if you find that you do not want to live with any of the people that you currently know at university, there are still many options. You could choose to live in a one bedroom private flat if you feel that living on your own is your desired situation. Alternatively, you could also look to live with new people that you have never lived with before. There is a section on the Cardiff Students’ Union website where people can advertise if they are looking for housemates as well as Facebook groups with a similar purpose.
What to look out for
There are certain things to look out for when selecting a student house that may aid in your decision. Firstly, you should consider what kind of appliances are supplied and which you require to meet your needs. For example, some landlords supply you with things such as microwaves, washing machines, televisions and tumble-dryers, whereas others do not, so you should make sure that the house you select can meet your needs.
Location may also be a significant factor, especially if you have to be close to a specific building for a lecture or if being close to a supermarket is important to you. Within Cardiff, most student housing is relatively close to the main university buildings, as well as many small shops, however, some are further away than others so deciding where to live can be important. For example, medical students might find it better to live closer to the hospital if that is where much of their learning takes place.
Whether to have your bills included or excluded from your rent can also be a difficult decision for those moving into private student housing for the first time. Arranging your bills via independent companies can often be cheaper than going for bills included with your rent however, having bills included does mean that you do not have to arrange multiple different payments each month which may can become confusing. Ultimately, this decision should come down to what you and your housemates decides is best and easiest for you.
Which company should I go with?
Knowing which housing company to go with when looking for student housing can seem confusing and often off putting due to the many mixed experiences that students seem to have with specific companies. To avoid renting a house with a company that may cause you problems in the future, it is advisable to read online reviews, talk to students who are currently renting with the company that you are looking at using, or speak to the business themselves so that they can answer any concerns that you may have before deciding to rent with them.
How to start looking
At present it is unlikely that in-person tours of houses will be possible due to coronavirus restrictions. However, you may be able to arrange things such as virtual tours with housing companies if you enquire with them about a specific house that you are interested in. It can therefore be useful to make a list of houses that you are interested and contact companies directly to find out more.