It’s that time of the year, when many people are in the midst of looking for a flat. It can be a really stressful time, especially in first year when it feels like this huge decision that you’ve never had to make before. There is a lot of different things to consider when flat hunting so I thought I would bring up some thoughts from my own experiences with flats.
Firstly, especially when you are in first year one of the most stressful parts is figuring out who to live with. I think it is important to consider the living arrangement that you are personally comfortable with. Some people are happy living with many flatmates, others prefer a quieter atmosphere with maybe only one or two other flatmates. Or, you may even feel the most comfortable with your own space and choose to look for a flat by yourself. Before looking for a flat it is important to consider what arrangement you might be happiest with. This can feel like a really big decision, and it is important, but at the same time remember you aren’t locked into staying with the same people for all 4 years of University.
Overall while looking for flats, and especially when living with people, its vital to communicate often. When you’re looking for a flat, make sure to talk to your flatmates about what your priorities are for the flat. Some people may value a short distance to University over the size of the bedrooms or even the distance to the supermarket. So, it is important that everyone is communicating about what they are thinking, as its critical to prevent any large disagreements. For instance, I knew in my first year that I was planning on studying abroad for a semester during my 2nd year at uni. So, I made sure that my flatmates, before looking for a flat, where aware that I wouldn’t be there for the whole year, and that I would be looking for someone else would take over my room. This gave plenty of warning to my flatmates and just made sure that they weren’t surprised later on. The idea of communicating is equally important when dealing with letting agencies. Remember that it is their job to be responsible for the property and any issues associated with it. So, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions (especially when dealing with a virtual flat tour).
One other small point, is don’t get too bogged down in other people’s timeline. I keenly remember being really worried that I hadn’t found a flat in December of my first year, I didn’t even know who I would be living with. There was so many people chatting in class about already having their flats sorted in December and January. Even November! I didn’t know how people had already managed to organise all their accommodation, when I didn’t even know where to start. My flatmates and I found a flat quite easily in February. So don’t stress too much about finding a flat, if you feel like you’re late to the search. Living in a city with a large student population means that there is almost always many flats and rooms that are available, so just be patient, open-minded and flexible.
Lastly, always read the tenancy agreement in full. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you want somewhere where you feel safe and comfortable to live so don’t feel you need to rush into any decisions. Take your time and figure out what the best living situation is for you.
Dundee Students Association has some great resources that I have used while I have lived in student flats, so if you have any questions, are looking for a flat then I would encourage you to have a look at these links.