One of the most exciting things about starting tertiary study is the opportunity to move out of home and start making some of your own choices, including where you will live. If you’re at the very start of the process and need a few pointers, we have four tips that will get you through the process.
1. Look for accommodation options that suit your budget
While this probably isn’t the part you’re most looking forward to, the first thing you’ll need to do is consider your budget. This will help you sift through your accommodation options and decide what’s suitable — whether it’s a college, privately-owned apartment, homestay or a share-house with friends. You’ll find a big difference in the costs of these options, with on-campus colleges being the most expensive, although you may find that the extra services and support (meals and tuition, for example) make this a better option for you.
You also need to be realistic — while you might want to pursue your city-living dream by renting a glamorous apartment, you’ll find that this may not be possible on a student budget. Remember to investigate your financial assistance options too, such as scholarships and bursaries from your institution and government allowances such as Rent Assistance and Relocation Scholarships.
2. Do your research
One of the most important things is to research each accommodation option thoroughly. This means attending open days and visiting on-campus accommodation, speaking to the institutions’ housing advisers and showing up to rental inspections (even if this means an early wake-up each Saturday for a month!) and having a thorough browse. You should also have a rough list of things you’re looking for and mentally tick these off as you visit each of your options (location, parking, bedroom size and so on). There’s nothing worse than signing documents and being handed the keys only to realise that you’ve overlooked a major issue or have extra expenses to cover once you move in.
3. Weigh up the advantages and disadvantages
As you consider each option, ensure that you are taking note of both positive and negative aspects. Try to remember that finding perfect accommodation will be near impossible and that each option will have its flaws. For example, you may find that while renting a share house with friends from school has social benefits it may not be the best for you in an academic sense (try studying late at night while your housemates party the night away). It’s also likely that while on-campus accommodation means you can roll out of bed ten minutes before a lecture, it can be quite expensive and may not give you a sense of independence.
4. Get organised
When arranging your accommodation, organisation is the key. This means submitting applications for on-campus accommodation on time (note that applications generally open the previous year, so you can apply before you are accepted); not leaving rental searches until the month you start classes; and, if applying for accommodation with a group of friends, ensuring that they stay on top of things (such as providing their share of a bond payment) or committing to attending property inspections.