Student accommodation guide: When should I start looking?
If you're a first year student at Cardiff, then you've probably begun to hear the dreaded question... "have you found somewhere to live next year?" And if you're already in a student house, you might soon need to decide whether to stay or go. Over the next few weeks, we'll be giving you the lowdown on student lettings - from how to find housemates to what you can expect from different areas. But first up, when do you need to sort out somewhere to rent?
If you believe the hype, student accommodation in Cardiff is going, going GONE and unless you SIGN RIGHT NOW (certainly by Christmas, if not by Halloween or sooner!), you’ll be out wandering the streets, or at best living in some tumbledown shack that even rats moved out of! Argh! Panic!!!
Deep breath. Keep breathing. Yes, you. Breathe in, breathe out. Do it!
Feeling better? Good.
Don't panic, but don't leave it too late. Now is a good a time to start thinking about and researching where to live, but there’s no need to rush either. One tip to bear in mind is that if you want a larger student house - 6 to 7 beds and upwards - then these are fewer and tend to go earlier, so you might want to start looking now. But if you're after a more common 4-5 bed, there's certainly no hurry yet.
By November in my first year, I’d not even met all the guys I ended up living with. It wasn’t until after Christmas that we agreed to look for a house together for the following year. We didn’t start looking until February or so. And you know what? It was fine. We saw some crummy student houses, but also decent ones too, and were very happy with where we ended up.
There's a good supply of Cardiff student houses on offer – and with student numbers down a bit this year, you’ve even less reason to be rushed into a snap decision. If you’re super-organised and want to get it done and dusted before Christmas, great! But don’t feel you’ll be missing out and don’t be pressured into signing up to something you’re not sure about. You’ll still be able to find perfectly reasonable student accommodation into the New Year and beyond.
Perfectly reasonable student accommodation:
I wouldn’t recommend leaving it too late though: you lose out on peace of mind knowing that it’s sorted, and with the clock ticking you might end up having to go for something either pricier or not as high quality. Most students will want to get it wrapped up before Easter so that it doesn’t distract from spring semester exams, and isn’t a source of stress going into the summer break.
My tip would be to begin your research now, but do the full-on house-hunting thing from around the end of January, after your first semester’s exams and essays are in and before the workload starts piling up too much for the second semester’s work.
If you’re in your second or third year, then your landlord or letting agent might already be pushing you for a decision on whether you want to stay in the house next year. Ask yourself – do you want to be living with the same people next year? Is the house suitable, or do you want to find somewhere bigger/smaller, cheaper/posher, closer/further from uni and so on?
If you’re in your final year, it will depend on whether you are planning on staying in Cardiff to look for work after you graduate, or move back home or to some other town or city. These can be hard decisions to make at this point, so again, try to take as much time as you can get to think them through properly.