Accommodation

Hello again, and Happy New Year! 

I thought it would be a good time to talk about accommodation, as I have just secured a house for the next academic year, so this post will be very practical, but not to worry, I will balance that out with a more fun one next time 🙂 

Campus Accommodation

I lived on campus during my first year here, in Millennium House, which is by the lake. It was a band D room (with en-suite bathroom), and it cost me £160 a week, which you pay in two or three instalments.

But I started off in band C (£112 a week) for the first few weeks, on Stag Hill campus, and decided to move room because I wanted to have my own bathroom and shower, which ended up making a big difference to me. The accommodation service was very helpful and kind here in helping me find a new room to move into.

My band C room – Mole House

My new room in Millennium house was also further away from Rubix, the campus club, which made it much quieter too. The furniture was better quality and there was more storage space.

My flat wasn’t very sociable, everyone juts kept themselves to themselves, but the band C flat was very social. Band C are usually flats of 14 rooms, so you do share with a lot of people, but the kitchen is huge and there are multiple toilets and showers. In Millennium house, I lived with five other people. The quiet flat was actually quite good for me, because GSA is incredibly social, and I felt like I needed a bit of calm and quiet when I got back from a long day. 

My band D room – Millennium House

The room had a simple bed, a big desk with drawers and lots of shelving above, a big wardrobe and a small bathroom. 

* A little detail I didn’t know about when I moved in — Uni accommodation doesn’t provide any pots and pans nor plates etc. I bought everything I needed from an affordable kitchen shop in town called Robert Dyas, and you get a 10% student discount too, but TK maxx also has some nice discounted home-wear *

One of the advantage of living on campus, I found, is that you live very close to most of your new friends, so you can pop by to hang out with them, or have a movie night or have dinner together. I ended up meeting one of my best friends in my first accommodation in band C, so it is a very valuable experience to live on campus I think, just to give you the opportunity to meet lots of people from lots of different courses.

The one thing I did miss while living on campus was a living room, a sofa, somewhere to relax that wasn’t just my bed. And by the end of the year, I was ready to move into a proper house.

Off-campus housing

So for this year, I found a four bedroom house off campus, where I live with three other people on my course. It is very close to the big Tesco, which is handy, and only a 7 minute walk away from GSA (but a half an hour walk away from town). We pay £2000 rent a month for this house (excluding bills) which we divide into four. We then pay about £60 per person per month for bills (water, electricity, gas).

It was really exciting for me to move into a ‘real’ house, after having lived a year in student accommodation. This house, with its garden, living room and staircase had a proper homely feel.

I will be moving house again next academic year though, moving in with more like-minded people, whom I share a similar life-style with, which I think is very important when house sharing.

I have just secured my new house and will be moving in in August. This one is £2500 a month, which is a bit more, but all rents have gone up lately and it’s very hard to find anything cheaper than £2400 now.

Looking for a house

When first looking for a house, it can feel very daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before, but actually, it’s quite easy. The estate agents around here a very used to students, and they will happily explain anything you don’t understand.

There is an on-campus letting agency called Hoods Residential who are very good. I’ve viewed a few houses with them and they’ve always been very friendly and helpful.

But there are also lots of others : Bourne, Student Let, The Home Club, Surrey Student Homes to name a few. 

But, in the end, I found a website called ‘Rightmove’ very useful, because they advertise all the houses from all the different letting agents, so you have them all in one place.

So after I found a group of friends I was happy to share house with, we met up and looked through all the four bedroom properties together. We started looking before Christmas and viewed a few then, but nothing really convinced us so we decided to wait until January, and found that there were quite a few more houses available then.

Viewings are usually very friendly and quick. Sometimes I found the estate agents to be a bit pressurising, reminding us of how quickly the houses go and usually that is true, but don’t let that push you into making a rushed choice either. If you’re absolutely sure about a house, it’s best to email them before the end of the day, or perhaps the next morning, just to be sure no one else snatches it before you, although if they do, there are lots of other houses around, and you will definitely end up finding somewhere. Usually, student houses are rented for a 12 month contract.

In most cases, you are asked to put a holding deposit down to secure the house (usually about £400 or £500 all together), which will then be deducted from the bigger deposit you pay later on. You then go through a referencing process, which is just a form asking for your details (and financial details as well). 

Moving out

When I had to move out of my campus accommodation last June, I put all my stuff in storage for a few months with a company called Spaceways (recommended by the Uni website), who specialise in student storage. You can have as many boxes as you need delivered to your door, and organise a pick up date with them. You can also store big suitcases etc. if needed. I paid £6.75 per box per month, and £11.45 per month for other items. They come and pick everything up at your door, and then you can organise a pick up date. There is also an extra return fee which cost £45 for me. This is a very good way of storing all your belongings if you don’t have anywhere to take them back to in the UK. Spaceways are quite a small business, and I found them very good and friendly. 

One last important tip about moving out – I would definitely recommend having a friend or parent helping you out with this, because I moved out by myself last June and found it very hard ( I promised myself not to do it alone again), so I would make sure you get some help with this 🙂 

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more posts

Audrey x 😉