There’s a multitude of questions that have to be asked before one procures a flat as a poor student, but for said ‘poor student’, the most important ones tend to be: Is there a pub close by? A big enough living room or kitchen to fit a plethora of friends, and friends of friends? A cheap shop within two minutes walking distance, for those impromptu nights out – where only a bottle of Sainsbury’s finest, and cheapest, vodka will do?
Vital questions all. But, as you move out of Halls, or the sanctity of your bedroom deep within the pits of your parent oppressors’ home, the time has come to truly accept weighty responsibility on your shoulders and think before you send away your deposit on a sixth floor three-bedroom “party” flat with no direct travel links to your university and an abundance of children and elderly people with panic buttons living in the building.
Flatmates. You’re moving out with three guys you met at Uni last year, and two of them are fantastic. One of the two is a party animal, and his actions when inebriated make you feel twitter-famous when you tweet about them. The other guy is a stand-up character, a charmer, and you never fail to pull on a night out with him as your wingman.
You know the other guy? The third guy? The one that kind of gets on your nerves, but it’s alright because you only see him for a couple of hours here and there? Imagine living with him. For twelve months. I guarantee you, and I’m speaking from personal experience here, the guy that annoys you, even slightly, is going to annoy you a million times more when you stay in the room right next to him and share a kitchen with him.
Before you agree to a flat, make sure you like all your flatmates. There’s nothing worse in a flat than a nagging flatmate trying to force you to do chores all year. And there’s no escape. They live with you. It’s like being sentenced to prison with your mum.
Location. Of course, it all depends on where your Uni is located, but at least make sure you can get to Uni from your new flat before you start signing any contracts. I can’t imagine you’ll have a great year if simply to get to a bus that will take you to Uni you have to hike through a wilderness, avoid main roads aplenty, and stop and set up base camp half way to eat something because it’s so far away.
Also, if you can, avoid living in a building full of families and elderly people. And I’m not just saying that to protect the slumber of our precious children. Families complain about students. A lot. Elderly people complain more. Fact. Unless you want the police at your door every time you have people over to your new flat, please, don’t move to a flat situated in a “quiet, residential area”.
Cost. It’s highly unlikely that each of the people moving into your flat with you will have the exact same money available to them for flats. So before you even start looking, get together to arrange a price range. If one person can afford a penthouse flat overlooking the main clubs and pubs of the city then fantastic for them, but if your price range only allows for a bottom level hovel, then a decision has to made. Don’t allow yourself to be roped into agreeing to a flat you can’t afford, or can only afford if you forsake food. Also, remember that although a flat might be at the top of your price range and therefore affordable, rent prices don’t usually include bills. Gas, electricity, internet and television bills still have to be paid on top of rent, so your affordable flat in the hippest student area, could quickly become a drain on your money, and the reason you have to live on bread and water for days on end.
Size. Make sure that you view of a flat before agreeing to it. I’ve made the mistake before of agreeing to a flat and sending my deposit based solely on the advice of my flatmates, (“Yeah, honestly, all the bedrooms are massive!”), and then found myself living out a year in a box room next to their plaza suites. At the end of the day it’s likely that you’ll all be splitting the rent equally, so ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth. You may not mind having the smallest room right now, but I assure you in a few months’ time, the sound of them living luxuriously in a room big enough for activities (“Step Brothers” reference there) will aggravate you to no end.
These are only the most vital things to think about before you move into a flat, based on my own experiences. But there are plenty more: Does it have transport links nearby to other parts of the city? Does it allow smoking? Does it allow pets? (You may have a flat hamster or a parrot or something).
Once you answer all these questions and are happy with the flat that will be a home to you for at least the next year, then simply enjoy it. The independence, comradery, and memories alone are worth every penny spent, and as soon as you find the perfect flat for you and your flatmates I assure you, without a shadow of a doubt, you’ll find yourself quite literally and pretty much instantly, having one of the best years of your life.