Tips on Accommodation

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By John, Computer Science
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham

There’s one thing that’s on everyone’s minds from when the year starts, right up until you sign the contract and everything is ready to go – where am I going to live next year? I know that was true for me, at least. As my second house hunt has come and gone, I thought I’d help with a few housing tips.

So, how exactly do you find good roommates? Most people, including myself, tend to pick people that they’re friends with. That’s usually a great option and one that usually allows you to live with like-minded people who have similar standards to you. If you don’t have that luxury though, it’s a good idea to find people who match what you’re looking for, first and foremost. It’s important that you can get an affordable house – and if you’re going to be living with people who are looking for the same things as you, it’s almost guaranteed that you hit somewhere in your ballpark.

Some people might have a spare room that they need to fill and that can be a good opportunity to meet people to live with. If you find a situation that you both like, they will probably want to have a chat with you. In that case, there are a lot of questions they might ask: do you smoke, do you like clubbing, do you play games, do you have any dietary requirements etc.

Similar to a job interview – as well as thinking about whether you’re right for them, remember to think if they’re right for you. Be sure to think of your own questions too, and any questions about the house.

Once you’ve found your group, it’s time to look for a house. There are a few things to look for: budget, as stated above, is very important. However, even when you’ve figured out what you want and it fits in your budget, there are still other things that separate a good house from a bad house.

To maximise your chances, you should be looking at a lot of different houses from different letting agencies and have multiple viewings of different places. When doing viewings, look out for the shower pressure, damage to any walls or surfaces, and available furniture. If the current tenants are in, it might be a good idea to ask them a few questions on what their experience living in the house has been like, as well as things like internet speeds and bills.

Then comes the signing of the contracts. You might have previously heard stories about certain lettings in the area, take a note of these, and try to go for the more reputable agencies. Any contracts you are asked to sign, you can get support from the accommodation service Living. Make sure you look carefully at contracts before you sign them and ask for any support, if needed.

But hopefully, you’ll learn a lot from the process and it’ll soon be sorted. You’ll be set for the next year and be in a great place to begin your new year of university.