What to look for when viewing Student Accommodation in Lancaster
Top tips to help you find the best student crib in Lancaster
Finding your student house off campus can be much like browsing a charity shop: you have to look through a lot of weird stuff that looks a bit manky before finding anything appropriate. However, there are certain things that are essential to consider when you decide to move into a house.
Location, location, location!
Whether you’re hoping for a central hub or one slightly closer to university, there are pros and cons to both. Living in the centre of Lancaster is a popular choice. Booze is only a few steps away in either a shop or a pub, and the walks back from Sugar will save you those expensive taxi rides. If you catch the bus at the station you’re almost guaranteed a seat (which is always a welcome in the mornings), but if you prefer other transport there’s the canal that runs through the city and multiple bike routes.
However, another popular choice is Bowerham which is roughly half way between the city and campus. It is generally a lot quieter and the journey to lectures is much shorter, giving you those extra few minutes in bed before your 9am.
Though the idea of having to use the buses for both town and uni might at first seem annoying, it does mean that nobody will be begging to stay at yours after a night out and you won’t be expected to host pres every week! Wherever you chose to live, make sure you pick the place that best suits your needs.
Housemates from hell
There really are housemates from hell, and it’s common sense that if there’s someone who annoys you daily with unwashed dishes or late night raves you probably won’t want to live with them next year.
This is the chance to choose who you live with, so don’t rush into signing a contract if you’re unsure. It’s common to pick people you’ve lived with before – after all, better the devil you know – but don’t be afraid to ask that person you met in freshers and instantly became friends with if you think you’d be happier with them.
When looking at houses, make sure everyone is taking the hunt seriously. There’s nothing worse than someone who keeps changing their mind about where/who they live with, so if you’re confronted with one of these friends let them know that you’re happy to look without them. The job of finding a replacement housemate at the beginning of second year is not worse the stress. As for couples wanting to live together, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
Bathroom business is a small thing, but for some it’s a game changer. The idea of sharing a single toilet between four may work, but if you plan on hosting parties then just remember that if someone’s had one too many shots they might be hugging the loo for the rest of the night.
A single bathroom might also cause problems when it comes to showering – if two of you have come back from a muddy rugby game, who gets to go first? The one about to go on a first date or the one who starts bar work in an hour? If you’ve had an en-suite this year, think about who you’re going to be sharing with and whether their level of hygiene matches yours. No one wants to come home to an unflushed loo.
Money can be awkward to talk about, but it’s important that all housemates agree on a budget. For some it may be £80 a week, others it will be more, but as long as you’re honest and considerate of others they’ll be a house that suits you all. Double check what is included in the rent so there are no hidden surprises when you arrive.
Some will advertise the price with all bills included which saves the hassle of organising these costs yourselves, though it may not be the cheapest option. If you’re lucky, a TV license will be included which means you can actually watch BBC iPlayer without guiltily clicking the “Do you have a TV license?” box every time you want to catch up on The Apprentice.
The best thing you can do when searching for accommodation is taking a look in person! Who knows how recent the photos are, and mould doesn’t always show up on camera. Seeing the house in person allows you to have a snoop around and discover all the broken locks and dodgy electrics. The basement bedroom that looks like a cute snug on the website could actually be a damp cave with a window view of concrete and old cigarette butts stuck in the sockets (I’m not lying).
A quaint house with character could turn out to have a bedroom that has to be accessed by what can only be described as a ladder (genuinely) and that would certainly be interesting after a night out in heels. Seeing the place in person also allows you to ask the current students what its like living there.
Ask them what the noise is like a night, whether they mind the washing machine being in the attic and how quickly the landlord sorts out the broken bulbs. No one is going to be more honest than the students having to put up with the long treks to the bus stop down an alley that constantly hosts drunks.
Be prepared to see some peculiar houses, but don’t expect too much. At the end of the day, you’re a student and this is Lancaster – as long as there’s WiFi, a bed, and you’re living with your friends then you’ll survive it.