How to

How to Choose Your University Accommodation

It was only so long ago that you were unpacking your bags and sitting through orientation week, and now the time to renew your student accommodation contract is drawing near. Do you want to stay on or are you looking for a change?

Here are some considerations that can help you to determine what accommodation best suits your needs.

What style of accommodation do you want to live in?

It is likely you may be living in purpose-built student accommodation, which is a popular option that offers many conveniences to university students. You can read more about this in our article ‘The Benefits of Student Accommodation’.

Some students find boarding halls or student apartments too communal and may crave independence or privacy; this could be a sign that you are ready for a private rental.

Are you happy to choose a metropolitan apartment or townhouse, or do you want to look for something more spacious in the suburbs? Be sure to do your research on suburbs; some of the most important considerations include median rental prices, transport options, general safety and accessibility to conveniences such as supermarkets and banks.

Perhaps you miss your mother’s cooking and long for a more nurturing household? Many students love the homestay set up. While you probably will not be attending as many parties, the delicious dinners and assistance with housekeeping make this an appealing trade-off. For local students, moving home could be an option. This has the advantage of saving you money, which you can then redirect towards other goals such as buying a car or paying off your student loan.

What is your budget?

Accommodation in the city is likely to be the most expensive option but is usually the most convenient. Is it worth paying an extra $50 a week to save on a one-hour daily commute? Also, can you afford your own unit with an en-suite or are you prepared to share your bathroom and kitchen with another student or students in the interest of saving money?

One common mistake students make when comparing the costs of accommodation is not factoring in utility fees. While a private rental may seem to cost less than student accommodation or homestay, you need to consider the additional cost of utility fees such as water, gas, electricity and internet. If you are thinking of renting further away from your campus, you may want to buy a car, in which case you would need to factor in the cost of running and maintaining it (including petrol, registration, insurance, mechanics fees and license renewal).

Does location matter?

While you may put a lot of thought into the location of your apartment or house, one of the best things to do is to view the place yourself to see if there are any deterrent factors that the real estate agent has not alerted you to. If possible, spend a day in the neighbourhood and perhaps even try to talk to locals about how they like the area.

You may have found the perfect student apartment minutes away from campus, but if it is located on top of a karaoke bar, it may not serve as the best place to study or sleep! Or you may have found a spacious house with a newly renovated kitchen and an amazing bathroom, but if the neighbour’s dogs bark day and night, it may not be ideal.

What works best for YOU?

Many students make the mistake of just going along with what their friends are choosing; after all, if they are happy, you should be too, right? Not so. For some, living right on the doorstep of their university seems ideal. For others, it can feel suffocating and distracting, and for them a property in the suburbs would feel more relaxing and conducive to study.

Once you have determined the accommodation option that appeals to you more, our final piece of advice is to apply for your accommodation early, rather than leaving it to the last minute. This way you will avoid disappointment, and may even find a better deal.

Happy house hunting!

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