As the new academic year begins, tens of thousands of students are moving into new accommodation. Some will stay in halls of residence or other properties owned by their universities, but for many the new term means moving into new student housing. Student housing is usually affordable compared to most housing in university towns, but rents can still be a major cost for students. With the cost of higher education rising, keeping non-tuition costs down is a high priority for many students. Fortunately, there are a few simple tips that can help save money on housing.
Comparing prices is probably the most important strategy for keeping housing costs low. It might
seem that all student housing should be more or less equal, but in fact rents can vary significantly.
Students looking for housing should check not only with their university’s accommodations service
but also with local estate agents. Some agencies specialise in student housing, while others may only
have a small number of suitable properties.
Almost all student housing consists of shared houses or flats. Proportionally, this is far less expensive
than living alone: two people pay more for a two-bedroom flat or house than one person does for a
one-bedroom, but far from twice as much. Sharing a home has its challenges, from loud music to
arguments over the washing-up, but as a cost-saving measure it can’t be beaten. University
accommodations offices can help locate rooms in shared houses and match potential flatmates.
An advertisement might show an appealingly low rent, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that a
house or flat will be affordable. Rent isn’t the only expense associated with student housing.
Because students are perceived to be high-risk renters, some landlords or agencies will want large
deposits or signing fees. The exact amount of these fees may not be revealed until it’s almost time to
sign the lease, meaning that students pay more than they should in order to avoid the effort of
starting their housing search over again. Students looking into a house should also find out what the
typical monthly utilities bills are. Older properties may command lower rents, but they often have
proportionally higher heating bills, for instance.
Cleaning and Maintenance
High deposits aren’t as much of a problem for students who can be confident that they’ll be
returned at the end of the tenancy. Getting a complete deposit back can be difficult, however.
Students moving into a new property should document any wear or damage that already exists —
ubiquitous mobile phone cameras make this so easy that no tenant ought to neglect it. A really
thorough cleaning when moving out can also help to ensure that students get as much of their
deposit back as possible.
Carpets are a frequent area of contention between landlords and tenants. Most conventional
cleaning methods are inadequate to deal with the stains and discolouration that can build up over
the course of a student’s year. Professional carpet-cleaning equipment is too expensive to buy for a
single job, but rentals are affordable. A thorough, professional-grade cleaning will pay for itself when
the landlord returns most or all of the deposit.
Daniel N is a UK-based blogger who writes on a wide variety of subjects including business and
DIY. He is currently working on behalf of tool hire specialists, who have recently published a carpet