Words by Hannah Cannon, Local Life Sub-Editor
Starting the Spring semester is understandably daunting, especially for those in first year. Yes, whilst it is a triumph to have made it to the Spring, we sadly are not without our responsibilities.
As is for many students, thinking about the future- both near and far- is deceivingly avoidable at best and downright terrifying at worst. But one thing you should be considering for the beginning of this semester is housing for the next academic year.
Whilst it feels like miles away, moving house is a large feat that takes months of preparation so it is important to start with a plan.
Step One: Deciding your budget. With the cost of living crisis running rampant through a lot of our lives, money is not the most enjoyable topic to talk about. Sadly, when considering moving in with someone, you are going to have to face it. The majority of houses in Brighton are an average of £135 pppw (per person per week) making it a total of £585 per month (calculated by multiplying the cost per week by the 52 weeks in the year and dividing it by 12 for the months in the year). Remember, this is not including bills. Houses on the cheaper side start most commonly at £120 pppw (or £520 per month). Once you have done some thinking and calculations deciding what you can afford, it’s time for step two.
Step Two: Finding your housemates. You’ve found your budget and now have a starting point. Deciding you want to live with your friends next year is the easy bit, setting clear boundaries on budgets is often the trickier bit. Your best friend may adore an £135 per week house at ‘The Level’, but if you cannot afford it, you cannot afford it. Do not be shy in stating so. If you are stuck for options, a lot of people post on their ‘Instagram’ and other social media platforms stating they are looking for an extra person for their flat, there are always going to be people who need someone to live with.
Step Three: Creating your criteria. This is where the home-hunting begins, and whilst it is exciting and full of possibilities it is important to stay aware of facets such as budget, personal criteria and location as well as cosmetic aspects. I would advise making a list of certain aspects that would make a property appealing to you. For example, if you’re commuting most days to and from university, you’re going to want to make sure there are good travel links for each property you view. You will have to decide if you are set on certain room sizes and bed sizes or if you are flexible with that. One of my own preferences was to have a room with a lot of natural light because I find my mental health suffers without that.
Step Four: Booking your house-viewings. Chances are there is going to be one member of your housemates that will take control of this step. Even if this is not you, I would highly recommend browsing listings to get an idea of what you will be looking for. ‘Sturents’ tends to be the most valuable resource, I found. It has the highest variety of student property managers listed as well as an accessible platform. Do not feel as though you have to stick to a single lettings company- you can view properties from multiple companies. Once you have found a couple of properties that match your criteria, your next step is to book the viewings. Whilst it is not mandatory for the whole party to attend viewings, I would highly recommend you attend. A house is a big commitment. I found the easiest way to book the viewings is to call the company directly. Due to the volume of interest in properties, a lot of companies receive a lot of emails and messages regarding viewings and it is quicker and easier to call them directly. This way, you know you have secured a viewing and there is not a chance someone will take your viewing spot before you have been contacted by the company. Calling a company on the phone can be incredibly daunting, but a lot of these companies are specifically for students and are expecting young people. Once you get past the first call it becomes simple.
Step Five: Deciding on a home. It is important not to settle for a house. If it is not somewhere you would feel comfortable living, do not accept that you will live there. I do not know anyone who found the house they were looking for on the first viewing. Whilst this is an important decision, there is also a time-limit on your choice. Housing is very competitive and if you find a house you love, there may be another viewing for it on that day and they might be quicker at securing it. Be sure to ask the property manager touring the house about the application process.
Step Six: Securing the home. Most companies require you to fill out an application online to secure your home. They will require names and identification of all potential tenants as well as information on a guarantor. A guarantor is essentially an individual who would be able to pay your rent if you were not able to during your tenancy. Each person will have their own guarantor. The guarantor must be an adult over 18 with a good credit score who lives in the UK and has a specified amount of financial income. This amount may vary between companies and can change depending on the amount of rent you will have to pay. If you do not have a guarantor, you can pay chunks of your rent before the tenancy starts.
Whilst this list may sound like a daunting, huge amount of information, it is all critical to success in securing a tenancy for the next year. Remember to keep hope for the future and not settle for something you do not want.
Helpful Tips: This experience is inevitably daunting, especially for the first time. But regardless, it is something you will be able to pick up fairly quickly. I found students who had already gone through the process to be very insightful as well as online forums of people who had done the same.
One of the biggest pieces of advice I was given was to be unafraid to ask questions. When you are at a house viewing, you can speak to the people who live there. I had nearly settled on a letting before one of the tenants told me the landlord was horrible. They have first-hand knowledge and experience of their own home and will more than likely be willing to speak to you.
A lot of letting agents who will tour you around the house will mention the state of some of the rooms to be the fault of the current tenants but this is not always the case. Whilst general untidiness and uncleanliness can impact the conditions of the house, there can be some matters that are not impacted by the individuals living there. Keep an eye out for damp spots in corners of walls and near windows. Again, you can ask the tenants if this is a persistent issue or it is something they have noticed only in short periods of time.
Whilst most individuals tend to try and get their housing plans set early on in the year, there is still hope if you have procrastinated. Though this is not something that you can continuously put off, if you have not begun thinking about your prospective plans, now would be a good time. There are still plenty of properties available and a lot of time to go before you would have to move.
Finding somewhere you would be comfortable and happy living is more important than you would think and whilst I hope this article has been helpful and informative, I hope it has soothed your worries on the process of finding a student house. Brighton is bigger than you think and full of beautiful homes.
Picture Credits: Getty Images