It is coming up to that time of the year when first year students are having to decide where they would like to live next year. We all had those fears and questions like, how different will things be to university accommodation? Who do I choose to move in with? Where in the city is best to live in?
Or perhaps you are reading this right now and thinking it is WAY too early to consider moving out and in to a new place next year… Although you have what seems like plenty of time till the end of year, it creeps up on you quickly, and all of a sudden… you’re signing a year’s lease!
So I am writing this blog as a guide or pointer to help you consider those big questions for the year ahead and what is best for YOU in the long run.
So a bit about me: I am a second year English law student, now living off campus in the North-West end of Dundee. During my first year I stayed in the on-campus Belmont Flats student accommodation. When I was considering moving out I felt super uncertain of my plans, and it took me a long time to figure out what the best option was for me.
You will need to ask yourself whether you want to rent a flat on your own, with a group of friends, move into halls similar to student accommodation, or perhaps move in with a stranger. Although it may seem pretty daunting, and a whole new world outside the protective bubble of university accommodation, I promise it is easier than it sounds.
Many factors need to be taken into consideration such as your personal monthly budget, as with most privately rented accommodation, utilities and Wi-Fi are not included in the monthly rental price (unlike student accommodation). Last year, my estate agent advised me to use the price comparison site “Uswitch” for the best deals on energy and Wi-Fi, which I found really helpful: https://www.uswitch.com/ . You also need to consider proximity to the university, shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, depending on your needs.
So to help you with this, here is my advice on the various options available to you:
Moving in on your own:
Although not the choice for everyone, there are many reasons students decide to live out on their own. Some students:
- like to know that the mess being made in the flat and tidied is their own;
- haven’t found that group of friends they wish to move in with;
- enjoy their own space, and want to be able to come home to a flat they can call their own.
My advice if you choose to move in on your own would be to make sure you have people close by that you can meet to socialise with (government restrictions applied).
Moving in with a group of friends:
I know several people who had to make the decision of moving in with friends from their course, flatmates from the previous year, or moving in with friends they had met through societies. Things to consider when choosing your flatmates:
- Focus on studies – your flatmates can have a huge impact on your studies, and how much time you spend revising, writing notes or discussing course content. Living with flatmates on the same course can help you keep up with deadlines, as well as having people close by to turn to when you need help with course content.
- Social life – although this has vastly changed this year it is still so relevant. Choosing to live with people who make university life fun and exciting outside of your studies is also so important. If the people you choose to live with spend 90% of their time in their rooms this may be something you want to consider.
- Positive impact on mental health – university life isn’t always easy. It can have a very serious impact on our mental health. In these times more than ever, it is very easy to feel alone. The people you want to live with should be those who have a very positive impact on your happiness during your time in university, who build you up and check in on you regularly.
Moving into halls again:
In Dundee there are several accommodation options available that are very similar to living in on-campus accommodation. Popular examples include: Peterson Hall, IQ Parker House and Marketgait apartments. Some of these are very high in-demand and require early applications to secure a room. Thoughts to consider here:
- Meeting new people – If you enjoyed your time in student halls this year, perhaps this is the perfect choice for you. It gives you the opportunity to have the halls experience all over again with communal areas for socialising, and getting a whole new set of flatmates – a great chance to meet new people again.
- Strangers – there is always a chance with student accommodation that you won’t gel as well with your new flatmates as you had hoped – but don’t let this put you off! There are plenty of options if this happens and advice on how to deal with this is given in each residence.
- Support – this option is good if you are just not quite ready to rent privately. With Wi-Fi and utilities included in the price, it is one less thing to worry about, as well as a support team being on hand for advice and to guide you.
Finding a flatmate:
If private accommodation prices seem daunting, or you haven’t found that group you want to live with, there is always the option of moving in with someone in a similar situation. Last year DUSA provided a service called “Speed renting” where you could meet potential flatmates, although it may look different this year, it is a great opportunity for those looking for someone to live with. DUSA also allows you to advertise to find a flatmate through their housing page.
Find the DUSA housing page here for helpful tips and advice: https://www.dusa.co.uk/advice/housing
The key thing to remember in the process of flat hunting is what you want your next year to look like. More than ever right now, your flat is your home away from home, it is the place you spend the majority of your time studying, socialising and living uni life. At the end of the day, it is up to you what environment you want to live in, so never feel pressured to live somewhere you would rather not and always make sure wherever you choose that you are prioritising your mental health above all else, as that is what is most important.
Check back for my next blog about desirable locations in Dundee and where is best for you…