It’s that time of the year again in Exeter – the frantic scramble for next year’s student housing is reaching its peak. With rents being released earlier and earlier each year, prices increasing, and the pressure of Student Cribs informing you that 300 other people are also viewing your top choice property, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed by the whole process. I certainly was!
Whether you’re a fresher trying to wrap your head around the options available to you, or a returner who’s just feeling a little stressed about it all, I hope some of these tips will be helpful.
1. Go with your gut
This applies to the people you’re living with as well as your house. I know that sorting out housemates can be tricky, daunting, and sometimes a little awkward – especially if you’re a fresher and have only just started getting to know people!
It’s impossible to predict who will be your closest friends in a year’s time (you may not have even met them yet), so instead consider which people would be best to live with. Some of my best friends would not be compatible housemates for me, and that’s okay. Go with your gut feeling and be honest about what you’re looking for – it’s fine to turn people down if you don’t want to share a house with them!
2. Ignore the keen beans
There will always be that friend who seemingly scouted out the best houses before term started, who got a group together in week one and has already laid down a deposit. They are scarily organised and look shocked when you tell them that you haven’t even started looking yet.
DON’T WORRY – although the hype around housing is massively drummed up in Exeter, remember that many places won’t even be on the market yet. Agencies tend to stagger their rent releases, so seriously don’t lose hope if you haven’t found a place by reading week. You will get there, and it is better to take the time to consider all of your options than rush into something you might later regret.
3. Set alerts with On the Market
On the Market is a website that shows you different properties from a variety of agencies – think Skyscanner for houses! It’s a great way to view many potential properties all in one place, rather than trawling through each individual housing site. Simply type in the location, number of bedrooms, and price range into their search bar and the website will do the work for you. Make sure you set up alerts so that you’ll be notified whenever a new property within your criteria becomes available.
4. Consider private landlords
Students typically flock to the same group of popular agencies, which can make it feel like options are very limited! This is by no means the case. Ask around and search the internet for private landlords and smaller agencies, and you’ll be surprised by how many great places are available. Cutting out the middleman often means that rent is cheaper, and if you have a good landlord then any issues that might crop up can be sorted directly through them.
5. If you can, go for bills included
This isn’t essential, but it does make life easier. If you have the option for bills to be included in your rent, then go for it – it’s generally cheaper that way and saves you the hassle of sorting them out yourselves.
Plus, it means you don’t have to feel guilty for taking a really long shower (besides hogging the bathroom and wasting water).
6. Read the fine print
Student housing is not cheap in Exeter, and once you’ve signed a contract it’s very difficult to get out of it without losing money. PLEASE make sure you read every document thoroughly before you sign so that you know exactly what you’re agreeing too. It sounds obvious, but you really don’t want to get caught out over some small detail that you missed scanning through the lengthy paperwork.
7. Don’t panic!
Finally, try not to get too swept up in the frenzy. Despite the mad dash to lock down a house, remember that you do have time and you don’t want to rush into anything. Keep calm, assess your options and everything will work out for the best.