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.
23 thoughts on “Find the right student accommodation by asking yourself this”
When each of my kids started college, they were required by the school to live on campus for their freshmen years. After that, they both choose to move off campus because not only could they get more space and privacy that way, but it was actually much cheaper to pay rent and prepare their own meals than to depend on the over-priced meal plans the college offered.
My daughter is still in school, and shares a house with four other girls that is only a ten-minute walk from campus, and has its own laundry. She is much happier there than she ever was on campus.
That’s interesting, Amy! I’m glad they are happy and it sounds like off-campus housing was perfect for their needs. Thank goodness for choices :) I’m hoping you and your family are doing great! <3
My oldest grandson is a Freshman in college. He’s in a dorm and I love hearing how happy he is settling in. You give good advice about student choices.
How nice that he is enjoying dorm life :) It’s amazing how much learning is done outside of the classroom in addition to inside of it during the college years. Wishing you a great weekend ahead!
Thank you for your share, Marianne :)
When I studied in England, I had two friends who where up happy with their dorm situations. One of them just didn’t like living in a dorm, so moved off campus into an apartment with a married couple also attending the university. The other was Chinese living with a bunch of other Chinese and was sick of how spoiled and annoying the guys were (raised by parents who gave them more cents than sense, I like to say); she moved into a small dorm room. Both were happier, and when I introduced them to each other, it turned out that my Chinese friend had moved into the same room the first friend had just abandoned.
Oh my, your story tells me that the world really IS small! What are the chances?!
Great advice, Christy. I lived at home during my college years and I’m happy I did. I heard so many roommate horror stories.
I was lucky with my college roommates. One of them always cleaned up after himself so well I never would have known he puked in my trash can if he hadn’t told me. The other was very studious. The third partied a lot, but it was only a problem once when he called me at 2 am to bail him out of jail… which is a whole other story.
How great that you were able to to do that AND that you enjoyed your family time, Jill :)
Accomodation is such a tricky matter. My daughters year 1 wasn’t great, she ended up in a flat which wasn’t very homely, Year 2 was better but year three they were ripped off by the landlady who took a whopping amount off for supposed damages, messiness, uncleanliness. It was ridiculous the only thing that had been neglected was the garden (and that they were happy to pay for.) My husband had even helped clean the place up so we were incredulous. The landlady complained about dust in the drawers of cupboards! So talk to previous tenants before you secure accommodation. In this case the girls had left their accommodation choice late so were limited in choice and we had little time to argue with the landlady as Tasha was going to South Korea so reluctantly the girls split the amount and we washed our hands off the whole sorry episode!
Oh MJ! Your daughter has certainly had to grow up fast in the area of accommodations. I hope she won’t let that dampen her spirits when she seeks future residences. I recently read an article that said get rid of the bad apples and don’t let them spoil the good apples.. Let’s keep thinking that way. Big hugs ~ It’s Friday <3
She now has her accommodation provided by her employer in South Korea where she’s gone to teach English. So no landladies to rip her off this year!
Great! And what an amazing experience she will have overseas :)
Great article, Christy. I have another suggestion to add.
ASK current TENANTS directly – don’t rely on internet posts (or letters on a management wall) for housing reviews – especially if the landlords own a number of rental properties in college areas.
My college area appt. is pricey because it is big enough for 4 students to share. The landlords get tons of GREAT reviews because they do a regular “win a free month’s rent by posting a review on FaceBook” contest – each student responds to increase their chances of winning.
And yet, asking around in person, you’ll discover that there is a high turnover (and not just because students graduate) Be suspicious, ASK how long tenants typically stay and why they leave *before* you are locked into a lease.
ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
“It takes a village to educate a world!”
Hi Madelyn, you opened my eyes to the “deal” of a free month of rent in return for a positive review on social media. I thank you for the additional info here! Asking someone directly would absolutely be more reliable then!
I’m sure other landlords have other ways to skew reviews and feedback as well. After all, who wants to rankle the person who owns the roof over your head? I even worry that they will consider me “a complainer” when I tell them about even important maintenance issues (repeatedly, btw).
My LL doesn’t insist on “positive” reviews, btw – but the point above still stands. Not surprising that there are no negative reviews on their page!
I tweak the old adage a bit: “If you can’t say something TRUTHFUL, don’t say anything at all!”
I like your update to that old adage, Madelyn. Truthful is a great way to live. I hope it’s okay that I responded to Robbie’s note on your post and included a link to a post that I had found helpful myself with PTSD. I really appreciate you.
Any link from you is welcome Christy – always!
Amazing tips, although I personally don’t think buying a house is a good option because there’s a very fair chance one will have to move for job but it’s just a personal opinion. As always, loved your post ❤
Hi Bhavya! The post actually doesn’t recommend the home buying activity; it’s an option available, which is why it’s included here, but it ties down the student’s money and can become a burden on top of school costs. Thanks for being here <3