Agony aunt: student housing

I haven’t yet signed for a house. Have I missed the chance to get a good one?

Not having signed for a house yet in late January can be a bit nerve-racking. Especially when left and right you hear friends talking about their great new homes, some of which were rented as early as November!

Let me begin by reassuring you that you WILL find a house and that you WILL find a house which you like. The big month for letting agencies is January, so you’re not even that late to the party. Most importantly though, I know from speaking to agents that there are more houses in Leeds than students to fill them all. So I repeat: you will 100% find a house.

Still, it is important to have realistic expectations. Most if not all of the best houses will have gone by now. Nevertheless, there are definitely good houses still out there, you just need to be a bit more thorough in your searching. Don’t be lazy. Book viewing with as many letting agencies as you can and try to get all your future housemates to go with you.

Most people will not want to sign a contract for a house they have not seen. Spending some minutes familiarising yourself with each others’ schedules will save precious hours later when the big signing decisions need to be made – and these decisions usually need to be made as quickly as possible to prevent other groups from swooping in and stealing the prize.

Seriously consider viewing houses that are somewhat above your original budget, because chances are you will find good houses left over due to their higher prices. That’s how I found my house. It’s a great one and it was still available in February. It is more expensive than my housemates and I would have liked, but we have managed to minimise costs by paying our own bills instead of having bills included in the rent.

Of course, it isn’t always possible to accommodate a higher budget, so make sure you and your housemates are communicating. If you can’t afford to be flexible budget-wise, look for houses in different locations, especially if you’ve been looking in Hyde Park. The Hyde Park area is a student favourite, but it is more expensive. You’ll find nicer houses for the same price if you look elsewhere.

Finally, remember that what is most important isn’t the house; it’s who you’re living with. Having a great place to live can seem like a really important condition for a happy year, but a building isn’t going to make or break your year. Your housemates will though. I have friends who, last year, were unhappy in gorgeous houses and friends who were extremely happy in shabby houses. The bottom line is that if you love the people you’re living with, you’ll love your house.

Mariana Avelino

Photo credit: Pixabay