A Guide To Off Campus House Hunting

It’s approaching that time of year again, the time where students panic, rushing around to view that house before anyone else snags it! But worry not, here’s my tips for making off campus house hunting that little bit less stressful.

1. Student Housing Fair

If you’re a first year, this is a must. The Student Housing Fair takes place every year and offers students the opportunity to meet a range of different off campus housing providers and get to grips with what accommodation is available off campus. Having a variety of landlords/letting agents all in one place makes for an easy comparison when investigating what each has to offer, and more importantly which of these fits best with your needs! Whether you plan to live alone or in a group, heading down to this event is a guaranteed way of making the potentially overwhelming process that is accommodation hunting that little bit less daunting. This year the event takes place on Thursday 15th November 12-4pm in The Great Hall!

Image from Lancaster University Homes

2. Lancaster University Homes

In addition to events such as the fair, another valuable point of reference is the Lancaster University Homes scheme. This initiative allows students the security of knowing which off campus accommodation offerings have been approved by the university. The information can be accessed by any student living in Lancaster and it’s free of charge! Their website features a database that allows you to search for accommodation that’s right for you, so you’re not left settling for something that isn’t quite what you wanted. Also, creating an account allows you to be notified when properties of interest become available. The scheme also offers a flat mate finder service for anyone looking for a housemate!

Image from Lancaster University Homes

3. Agents with offices

During my personal accommodation searches, I always found letting through agents who have offices to be the best choice. The purpose of these agencies is to attend to the needs of students, whether that be information about move in arrangements or if something goes wrong in the house! Having staff members available to speak in person helps prevent having to chase a stranger up over email, which in turn is likely to improve the rate at which your problem is resolved!Image from Scott Winterroth on Unsplash

4. Noise and Neighbours

If you’re someone that’s particularly sensitive to noise, then that’s also something to consider when looking for accommodation. Does the property face on to a busy main road? Particularly in Lancaster we might want to consider the constant noise that will be likely if living in a property located within the one-way system. For those looking at houses towards the railway station in town, how tolerant do you anticipate being of noise from the railway itself? For some, this issue would be marginal, however others could find certain settings particularly unpleasant, it’s all about finding what’s right for you! On a similar note it might also be worth acknowledging whether or not your immediate neighbours are students or locals, or is the property totally empty? While I haven’t encountered any problematic neighbours during my time living off campus, it might be something to bear in mind! Image from feipeng yi on Unsplash

5. Parking

This next tip specifically applies to students who wish to bring their cars to university. Naturally many more students bring their own cars to Lancaster when living off campus for ease of transportation as well as in a bid to avoid busy buses. However, it is essential to establish what kind of parking is available nearby to your property. In particular you may need to research whether or not a permit is required and at what cost? Considering factors such as this prior to moving in, or even signing a lease ensures you’re not in for any surprises or nasty fines upon moving in! Image from Emily York on Unsplash

6. Bus Stops

As mentioned previously, one of the main methods of transport utilised by Lancaster students are the public buses. In this case, another thing to consider would be the proximity of a property to nearby bus stops. Would you prefer to be situated immediately by your stop, or are you happy to walk? It could also be worth considering which bus routes run by your nearest stops, are they frequent or infrequent? This is definitely something to consider in light of new Lancaster bus timetables, as many non-direct routes now run at a far less frequent rate. You wouldn’t want to be missing that 9am because of a missed bus now would you?

Photo by Pau Casals on Unsplash

7. Shops

Finally, an important thing to consider would be how close or far you are living to any local shops. Do you like the idea of living close to one of the larger supermarkets in town? Or are you happy to visit a smaller shop such as SPAR for your emergency loaf of bread? You wouldn’t want to move into your new house only to realise you have to walk for half an hour to buy a pint of milk!Image from Mike Petrucci on Unsplash​

While it might seem like there is a lot to think about when looking for off campus accommodation, the process can be a thoroughly enjoyable one. Moving into a house with a group of friends will be a memory cherished forever, and this process is only the beginning.

Happy house hunting!