If you’ve got your sights set on starting university next year, you’ll have the task of finding student accommodation ahead of you. While many people leave this task until the last minute, it pays to be well prepared and start thinking early about what you really want from student living.
After all, there’s more to it than just finding a room. These days, the range of student accommodation in the UK is much more varied than it used to be – giving your parents the chance to exclaim ‘we didn’t have that in my day’ any time you discuss it. There’s certainly a lot of choice, but it’s worth asking yourself what’s really important to you before you sign up to something which may not suit your own needs.
Here are some factors to consider as you begin your search.
When you start looking around at student accommodation options, you are sure to notice that social spaces are a big deal. While you might not find much in the way of facilities at university halls, and will have to forego them completely if you choose to live in a student house, private halls of residence – like those run by iQ – generally offer a wide range of facilities. Depending on the location, these might include things like a gym, lounges with TV, games, seating areas and vending machines, cinema and gaming rooms, and even things aimed at more specialist interests like an art room or dance studio (our site in Shoreditch has both).
These offer lots of advantages, giving you a chance to get involved in activities you might never have tried before and, of course, meet new people from all over the world much more easily (not to mention, saving money on a separate gym membership). All of a sudden, staying in becomes going out – there’s always something to do, even if you just have an hour or two to spare. It’s one of the big advantages of student living.
If you prefer to concentrate on your studies, some of these things might not be so important, so it’s worth looking into what quiet zones and dedicated study areas are on offer. Some student accommodation providers will meet your needs here better than others, so check out whether the study areas offer any useful tech and that they’re not located in areas which are going to be disturbed by lots of noise.
Remember the advice they gave you at school about having a quiet area to do your homework, and not doing it at the kitchen table with the TV on? It was good advice! Every iQ room and studio flat gives you a study area of your own, so if you prefer to hit the books alone, you can.
As with any other accommodation, it’s generally true that the further away from the city you are, the cheaper your room is going to be. So, just as if you were buying or renting a house, you need to balance the possible inconvenience with the cost involved. You might find that commuting back and forth to university every day, which can take some time and cost quite a lot on public transport, starts to take its toll. How much study will you feel like doing after a long journey? A university education is an investment in your future, and short-term savings can turn out to be expensive in other ways later.
If you’re eager to experience all the social benefits of student living, a city centre location might be a priority for you. There’s nothing like being able to say ‘yes’ to a spontaneous night out – it’s much harder if you’ve got to get there first and have to worry about getting back afterwards. As for the cost, there are ways to keep it down. All-inclusive bills, which all iQ sites offer, mean you won’t have the hassle of paying extra towards electricity, gas etc, and central locations mean you can just walk into the city or to your campus – no need to fork out for a bus, train or taxi. You could even take a look at renting a shared apartment, and splitting your living expenses with a friend.
Moving away from home and starting university can be hard for anyone – it’s probably the biggest move of your life so far. If you’re moving from one country to another, there’s a whole extra level of newness to contend with – a new culture, new ways of doing things, and possibly a new language.
Your university support services are there to help you, but it’s nice to have a network of people you can rely on for informal support as you go along. This is where student halls come into their own – you can be sure there are others going through the same struggles as you. In fact, you might find this is a great way to bond and make new friends. This is one of the reasons many students choose to spend at least their first year in halls – the sense of community can be a great comfort.
Our teams are always on hand to help you adjust to university life and, if you need support on a particular matter, they can often direct you to a suitable source of help. Worried that you’re just not going to feel at home or that you’ll have trouble meeting people? We hold regular events with the aim of getting people together and developing friendships – after all, the student experience is so much more fun when it’s shared. You’ll have some great memories long after you graduate, and all your initial fears will soon be forgotten.
While it might be tempting to put off your accommodation search until the last possible moment, you run the risk of being left with accommodation which is low quality, poorly located or much more expensive than it could have been if you had booked earlier. If you can, there is a lovely sense of calm to enjoy when you have already booked your student accommodation and can just forget about it until the university year starts.
At iQ, we start offering accommodation for the following year in November, so you have plenty of time to get a list of possible rooms together, book some viewings and work out which ones tick all the boxes we have spoken about here. We definitely recommend you come and have a look in person – not only can you get a feel for the place, but our team can answer any questions you may have, so when you do make a decision you’ll have all the information you need.
Of course, if you’re a future first-year student, you might be thinking, ‘that’s fine for everyone else, but I don’t know what my results will be yet’. We hear you! Plans can change, so if you do book your accommodation with iQ and don’t get the grades you needed for your conditional offer to be confirmed, we’ll refund your booking fee, so it’s a no-risk strategy. We can even transfer it to another of our properties, if it turns out you need accommodation near a completely different university.
And when you’ve planned for every scenario, you’ll be able to concentrate fully on your exams and make the most of the summer break. That’s got to be a win-win, whatever your priorities are.
Need help with your student accommodation search? Get in touch.
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