ALISHA is going to be looking for a place to stay with her boyfriend and another friend next year, and Stacey is living in private accommodation for the second year in a row. They sat down and discussed a few things which any student should look out for when finding the perfect property. Alisha came with a list of needs, wants, and luxuries the property could have; and Stacey explained how realistic those are in Aber, and added a few other pointers for finding a decent place to stay.
So to start off: what do you need in your house/apartment?
• Light and well ventilated
That’s a surprisingly easy one. Find a property which has a lot of windows, and preferably is on the end of a road or a corner. This maximises the amount of light which can reach the house. For apartments/flats, the top floor is your best bet, but could be difficult when it comes to getting the groceries home.
• Posses a sink that holds water
If the property doesn’t have that, walk away. Leaky plumbing needs to be taken care of, because it can lead to further issues down the line, including water damage and just overall is not a good thing.
• Completely furnished and finished. No cracks in the ceiling or walls and NO REPAIRS RO BE DONE. Sturdy furniture and bed frames are also required
Most properties will be fully furnished, especially if they’re aimed towards students. As for cracks, since most properties are fairly old, it’s pretty likely that there will be at least a few cracks, but nothing which will be too dangerous or will really affect the structural integrity of the property. The sturdiness of the furniture is dependent on how many tenants there have been before. Also depending on your landlord/agency – if there is damage, which you didn’t directly cause, they should be willing to either repair or replace the furniture.
• Out of the town centre and away from pubs
Since this is Aber, and has the highest density of pubs in the UK, being away form pubs is going to be difficult without being outside of Aber itself and halfway to Penparcau. Out of the town centre, however, is fairly easy. There are plenty of properties which aren’t directly in the centre of town, so by sticking away from the places near the highly frequented pubs, such as Cambrian, Harley’s, etc., you should get what you’re looking for.
• A living room
Again, this is also surprisingly easy. This might not be as big a living room as you may want, but it will exist. The only time it won’t is if you got a studio apartment, but that’s mostly because the living room is basically the bedroom.
• Needs an in house bathroom , which is not shared with others (a sink, shower and windows that open or a decent extractor fan)
In house bathroom: easy. Not shared with others? Dependent on if you mean the other people you’re renting with, or others who aren’t on your contract. There is usually at least one bathroom per property, and is only shared with people on the contract. Sink, shower, toilet – those are all standard, and depending on where the bathroom is in the building, there will be either a window or an extractor fan. Windows are more common, and usually open – again, if they don’t you should tell the landlord to fix it.
• Must have at least two bedrooms (both decent sizes)
The majority of contracts basically put you in one bedroom per student, unless it’s a single room studio, which is usually for either one student, or a couple. As for the size – it depends on the property and the size thereof. Some bedrooms aren’t much more than a cupboard, but others are more than decently sized, and could fit at least one uni accommodation room inside.
• At least one double bed or two singles that can be pushed together
Double beds are hard to come by, but I have seen them… in studio apartments. Since you want to move in as a couple plus a friend, a studio probably isn’t what you’re looking for. As for pushing together singles, that you can discuss with your landlord. Odds are, they’ll be okay with it, as long as you put everything back at the end of your contract.
What other things would you like to have there?
• Two good sized bedrooms and a smaller one for storage
If you’re running off the above, you could easily wrangle getting this. Get a place with three bedrooms, one of which is smaller than the others – relatively common, as rooms vary in sizes even within the same property – and you’re sorted. This is easier in a house than in an apartment, so may help narrow things down.
• Large fridge and freezer
You might be able to get one or the other, but it’s next to impossible to get both unless you get really lucky.
• At least one bill included
This is actually relatively common in Aber, so could easily be a thing you could manage. I’d personally try to get the water bill included, since you can get rebates on the other bills, but you do whatever you feel works best for you. Sometimes it ends up that paying your bills on top of your rent works out cheaper, it is entirely dependent on where you end up and when you sign the contract.
• Shaving light
I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen many of these in student housing outside of uni residence. It doesn’t seem to be a thing that happens very often, mostly since the majority are older houses which have been renovated to be more orientated towards students instead of families. You might find them in the newer buildings, but odds are those’ll be more expensive than the older ones which won’t have the lights.
• Large windows with window sills
These may not be as large as you’re hoping, again it depends on the size of the house itself. You may be able to find one big enough to set up a seating area in, but it may be a bit more difficult to find in a house built for three. You may want to consider bringing in more people in order to check this box off.
• Washing machine and dryer
Some places do actually have both of these, but you really need to look for them. Most seem to only have a washing machine, or access to a nearby launderette. Depending on how important this is to you, I’d aim for one with at least a washing machine, and set up a clothes airer to let your clothes dry on.
• Space for an airer
Pretty much all houses have enough room for one of these, be it in the bedroom, the bathroom or the living room. If not, there is most likely a launderette nearby you can go to to dry your clothes.
• A good sized wardrobe with extra storage
these are one of the hardest thing to come by. Wardrobes in Aber all seem to varying shades of small, with the occasional extra-small thrown in. If you manage to find extra storage, nab it while you can. If your landlord lets you, though, and if you have the space to spare, you may be able to pick up a chest of drawers from Craft to help with storing things in your room.
• In a quiet area
This would be far easier than being away from pubs, surprisingly. Not all pubs get that busy, so if you can get a place near one of the quieter pubs you should be fine. Obviously, since these would be more in demand than places near the really busy pubs, they may be slightly more expensive, but overall it’ll make your life easier.
• A skylight
This could be difficult. I’ve not seen many places with skylights in the bedrooms, but I’ve seen a couple with skylights in the hallways. Depending on how desperately you want this, you could be looking around for a while.
• Something to hang extra stuff on
Like a curtain rail? Those are fairly common, but it may take a little while to find the type you’re hoping for. Quite a few have the type of rail which can’t really have anything tied to it, so stuff can’t really by hang off of them in the long term. However, some will have a sturdier rail, which you can tie things to and use as a hanging storage space.
Any last finishing touches which could make or break between finalist properties?
• Being allowed to burn candles and use fairy lights
Battery powered fairy lights are a possibility in some properties, but not all. Plug-in fairy lights are going to be a ‘no’ in most contracts, but some agencies may be more lenient than others. As for candles, these are a serious fire hazard, and considering the likelihood of being a drunken student, they are rightfully banned in student housing, both uni and private. You’d be able to get away with battery powered ones, though.
• A full length mirror (In one of the bedrooms or bathrooms)
These are difficult at best to find, but can be bought. Check the furniture/antique shops around town, and if those don’t have, then order a few large, flat, frameless mirrors from Ikea, and set them on the wall on above the other.
This is relatively easy to find in houses, so just be sure that you find one that you like, be it size or style-wise.
• Nice view
this depends on your definition. I quite like a seafront view, but when I was looking it was way overbudget, and also way too dangerous. If you just don’t want to be overlooking another building, it may make it a bit easier, but it might still be pretty hard to find one for cheap.
• Breakfast bar/island
You can get a counter in your kitchen, and a kitchen table. That’s about the closest you’ll get to a breakfast bar or a kitchen island in Aber.
You’re looking for student accommodation. If you manage to find a single student house with a dishwasher not only should you grab it then and there, but I will be pretty impressed and shocked.
• Secluded enough that others cannot see in through the windows
As long as you’re not one the ground floor, this one is fairly easy. As soon as you go up to above the ground floor, people can’t actually see into your windows. Most places don’t have bedrooms on the ground floor, so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Some places with a ground floor room will have net curtains to limit what passers by can see into the room, but may have restrictions on whether or not these can be removed.
• Lots of storage space
Some places have cupboards under the stairs, some have a little shed outside, some have both. Keep an eye out while you’re looking around and you might find somewhere with extra storage space, but if we’re being perfectly honest, it’s not likely that you’ll find a huge amount.
• Garden/balcony area
A surprisingly high number of places have some kind of outside space, even if it’s not quite a pretty garden area or an actual balcony. All you really need to do is keep an eye out when looking around, and maybe ask whoever is showing you the property.
A few other things I’d suggest is testing the cooker and the oven before you move in. Make sure they work, and if they don’t then have a chat with the landlord about either repairing or replacing these before you move in. When it comes to rent, most agencies will offer a summer discount for when you’re not in the house, (this can be anything from 10% to 75% off term time prices) but you have to ask to be sure and it may be more if you stay over summer, so stay wary.