Getting ready for the college semester? Depending on what point you’re at in your college career, you might not be living in student accommodation. Instead, you might be left to find your own place to live in the world, far from the security of a student dorm room. Actually, choosing where you want to live is one of the first important independent decisions that you will make in your scholarly life. To help you make the right choice in student accommodation, ask yourself the six questions below.
Bare minimum, or big and beautiful?
If you have some money in your account or you don’t mind borrowing a bit, you may be tempted to get a big and beautiful place to live when you start your next year of college. But is this the smart decision? On the plus side, it would be nice to come home to a luxury place where you can relax after a long day of lectures in a massive bathtub. Or, sink into a leather sofa and watch TV on a massive screen.
But, be careful. If it’s too comfortable, you might never want to leave the place. You could miss a lot of lectures and classes simply because you don’t want to leave the comfort of your beautiful home.
Instead, the ideal student accommodation is like a budget holiday. In other words, the place you choose to stay has the essentials, but you can forget the bells and whistles.
Basically, what you need is a place with a comfortable bed, small TV, space to sit with friends, a clean bathroom, and a working kitchen. Anything else is just going to distract you from your commitment to college life.
Oh, there is one other factor that definitely needs to be a part of your student accommodation, and that’s the internet. Wherever you choose to live ought to be a place that provides you with reliable high internet speeds.
It’s important so that you don’t wind up in a position where you can’t download the information that you need for an assignment because the internet is too slow. Also, you don’t want to be in a position where you have to head to college every time you want to work online. That’s going to quickly become annoying!
Where will your student accommodation be?
Ideally, you want to be as close as possible to the school. That’s going to make the early morning trudge to lectures a lot easier for you.
Unfortunately, you’ll typically find that student accommodation near the college is a lot more expensive than something further away. As such, you will probably want to live a little distance from campus. To figure out how far is too far, read on.
Ahem, the typical rule is that you don’t want to spend more than 40 minutes getting to and from school each day. A 20-minute walk would be ideal and will mean that you are far enough away that you don’t have to deal with noise from the school.
Who will you live with?
During your first year of college life, you will make different groups of friends. At this point, there may be a time when it is worth bringing up living arrangements for the next semester. You will usually find that there are at least a few people who have the same idea as you. You don’t want it to be like a dorm where there are 10 people though.
If you get roommates, remember there will likely be times when you want things quiet and peaceful. Meanwhile, others living there might want to party that night. Unless of course, you select people very carefully. But even then things can go awry.
As for how many people you live within the student accommodation, aim to live with no more than four or five other people. The benefit here is that you’ll be keeping living costs super low because you can share bills for electricity and more.
Furthermore, chores a little easier because everyone can pull their own weight, whereas if you live alone then cleaning and grocery shopping is all on your shoulders.
The best idea when you’re living with a group is to look at houses rather than apartments. If you are getting a house rental, then make sure that everyone has enough space to breathe freely. It means that someone can be cooking and watching TV while another can be happily studying in their room, hopefully without one disturbing one other.
Is the area safe and secure?
There are a few other features to look for in student accommodation. For example, make sure that is safe and secure. If you are buying an apartment, it is worth considering the possibility of getting one that has the best security features. For instance, it could have electronic locks on the front door and possibly even CCTV systems.
If you live in a building with low levels of security, you could find yourself in trouble with both thefts and break-ins. Don’t trust the landlord when they tell you it’s a safe neighborhood; they will say anything to get a tenant staying there.
Instead, think about asking people in other apartments in the building whether they have had an issue with break-ins or any crimes. Ask around, and you can make sure you’re not making the wrong decision here during college life.
That’s another advantage of renting a home rather than an apartment. You’ll often find houses are in neighborhoods or on streets with low crime rates. Of course, there’s no guarantee that a house will be more secure than an apartment as student accommodation.
Moreover, you really need to think carefully about the level of security available before you agree to rent a property.
Is the student accommodation clean and well-maintained?
As well as security, look at both maintenance and cleanliness. While I agree that it makes sense to look for a place that is budget-friendly, don’t mistake that to mean that you should live in a cesspit.
Any issues with your accommodation will distract you from college life, which could negatively affect your grades. No one wants to come home to find their place crawling with insects or water damage!
Again, if possible, it’s worth asking other tenants of the landlord about their experiences. If the issues are fixed quickly for them, you can bet the same will be true for you. However, if they constantly struggle to get ahold of the landlord, then think twice about living there.
In addition, check out reviews of different buildings online. You’ll generally find that past tenants are more than happy to divulge bad experiences. Why? To help make sure others don’t make the same mistake that they did.
College life: Is it worth buying?
This question is something you’ll most likely have to discuss with your parents. If you have enough money collectively, you might think about putting down a deposit and buying a place to live for college.
That’s especially true if you know that you will be there for four or five years. It might seem like a practical move and perhaps even a relatively good investment. So, rather than pay rent, you can pay a mortgage.
The problem with buying student accommodation though is that it often takes more than a few years to pay off. That’s true even with four or more people paying into mortgage repayments. It also puts a lot of financial pressure on you at a time when people already often struggle with debt.
So, it probably is in your best interests to rent rather than buy during college life. The last thing you want is to be stuck somewhere unable to find work once you graduate and tied to a house.
Hopefully, this guide helps you settle into college, finding the best place for you to live during those special years.
Over to you: Share your experience with finding student accommodation
What about you? Did you rent or own while in school? Share a bit about your thoughts on where to live for college and how to find the right living space.