So it is coming round to that time of year again; the dreaded semester two scramble to find accommodation in our gorgeous, yet frustratingly tiny town. Whether this is your first time renting, or you're a seasoned flat finder, Covid has certainly done what it does best and made matters even more difficult than usual. From struggles with finding flatmates to the inability to visit properties in person, this year is bound to be tough when it comes to finding your term-time home. Here are a few tips on maintaining your sanity as you navigate the infamous task of renting in St Andrews.
1. Know your options
When it comes to finding accommodation as a returning student, there are three main options: reapply for halls, apply for university managed accommodation, or look in the private sector. Each of these have different benefits and application processes, so it is best to decide what you’re looking for early on. You can also choose to apply for more than one type of accommodation. For example, you might aim to find a private flat through a letting agency, but also apply to halls as a backup. This provides a good safety net in case you are unable to find anything privately. However, you are not able to apply for both university managed accommodation and halls of residence, so bear that in mind when forming a plan.
2. Get to grips with the process
This is something which can seem daunting at first, but is not too difficult in reality. It really helps to follow all of the estate agents on facebook and check out their websites to get regular updates on their properties and procedures. Some, like Eve Brown, will operate on a first come first serve basis, while others like Inchdairnie may conduct interviews and have a more selective process. Alternatively, University managed accommodation is allocated through a ballot, with applications opening at the start of February.
Various agencies will also differ in how they release their properties. Many choose to post individual residences on Facebook as they learn of their availability, however some, like Lawson and Thomspon, have released dates of when their properties will go live in advance. All this necessary information can be found online, so do some research early to get comfortable with how the various agencies operate.
3. Set priorities
Getting together with your flatmates (likely virtually) and deciding what you value in a flat will save you precious time later down the line. Discussing the important stuff like budgets, room sizes, bathrooms and location will help you narrow down what you want to consider when properties are released. This allows you to pounce on properties which meet your criteria straight away rather than having to discuss each one you see.
4. Organise your paperwork
This is something simple but it makes all the difference when it comes to submitting applications. Once you see the flat of your dreams (or a decent match to your priorities), you do not want to spend ages getting your paperwork together, allowing other groups to beat you to it. Agencies want to know you are serious about the property and will be reliable tenants, so whether they allocate on a first-come-first-serve basis, or evaluate each application individually, the quicker you can have your paperwork sent in the better. This means getting together key documents like an accommodation reference, character reference, personal ID, guarantor ID, and filling out any tenancy applications as soon as you can. This will vary slightly between agencies, so look to their websites for details of what is necessary.
5. Keep calm, and keep on the pulse
Flat finding in St Andrews has the undeniable potential to be a very stressful affair. This is a tiny and expensive town packed full of students, so the competition is bound to be fierce. Go easy on yourself and do not be discouraged if it takes a few tries before you find the right place. This is a difficult process, but once you get something sorted, it will feel incredible. Just keep up to date with the letting agencies, check your emails on the regular, and feel free to reach out to Accomodation St Andrews if you need more help figuring things out.
You can do this!