How Much Should you be Paying for Accommodation at Uni?
- Whether you decide to rent in the private sector, or live in university halls
- Where you’re studying – rent and rates cost different amounts in different parts of the country
- How close your accommodation is to the university
- The facilities and standard of the accommodation you’re living in
What’s the average cost of accommodation?
Going on the facts and figures found at the following link, we’ve come up with an average cost for accommodation in the UK.
The average cost for accommodation on a monthly basis including bills comes out at around £360. You’ll notice that on the above link there is a gulf in accommodation costs: with a student living in halls at Loughborough University paying £540 per month, whilst a student in Sheffield is paying just £260 per month for a double bedroom in a private property.
Obviously our figures are very rough because it’s an average based on both university halls, and the cost of living in the private sector. Typically you’ll notice that halls are a cheaper place to live than in the private sector if you look at the case studies very carefully.
When should you start thinking about accommodation?
Remember student houses can be hard to find, especially in a busy town. The sooner you start looking for a place to live the better. If you’re in your first year it’s probably a good idea just to live in university halls for the first couple of semesters. When you’re out and about in your first year you can look for places to rent during the second and third years of university. As a rule you should try and finalize a student house for the next year no later than June. There’s always a mad last minute scramble for accommodation – you don’t want to be a part of that!
Before you rent a house you’ll need to get a group of committed friends together who will all live with you. Lots of people agree to live with friends then pull out at the last minute leaving them high and dry. Make sure you appoint someone to organize the accommodation for the group and make sure deposits are taken from all interested parties to prevent them from backing out. Be careful who you’re renting with too – because the utmost care should be taken of the property so that any deposit you put down on it is returned to you after you’ve finished renting it.
There’s no rule on how many houses you should go and look at before finally settling with one, but you should definitely look at more than just one. Remember the more you shop around for things, the better the deal you’ll get. Don’t just look in the immediate vicinity of your university either. Houses a couple of miles away will be much, much cheaper to rent. You can then just get a bus into university – or keep fit by walking or cycling into lectures and seminars. You can find a range of student housing choices and compare prices at StudentHousing.co.uk.
Remember to factor in bills
If you’re looking at renting a place and the figure quoted is excluding bills, make sure you get some accurate estimates of what the bills are likely to cost. Bills can amount to several hundred pounds per month on top of the rent figure that you pay – so to avoid any nasty surprises you should find out what the bills are and how much they cost in advance.
With bills you can always shop around different utility companies and suppliers in order to get a good deal – so don’t take the bills you’re quoted by the landlord as solid fact. Normally though rent is non-negotiable – but if you’re feeling a bit cheeky you can always try and wrangle yourself a month free, or a couple of pounds off per month.
Remember you’re unlikely to be living at university for 12 months
Some students fall into the trap of taking things like utility contracts (phone and broadband for example) of 12 months and longer. You need to be careful of doing this because most students will only be living around their university for the eight or nine months that they’re studying each year. If you agree to rent a house that has a minimum lease term you’ll probably lose your deposit and have to pay off the rest of the term before the landlord lets you out of the agreement early.
Accommodation prices vary wildly over the country. Make sure you research how much it’s going to cost you to put a roof over your head during your studies – because you might be in for a bit of a shock if you don’t!