House hunting. Two words that have the potential to fill the most organised of students with dread. Despite being only a nasty cough since Fresher’s Week, now is the time to start thinking about your plans for next year. Are you brave enough to trade in the convenience of halls for the responsibility of keeping an off campus house in one piece? Whether a three storey terrace or a seven bed semi-detached, understanding what to look out for and knowing the right questions to ask is vital to avoid disappointment.
It’s important you start looking for houses as early as possible, procrastination, as with assignments, doesn’t get you anywhere. LUSU housing is a great place to start, offering a large property bank with accredited houses available for you to view. If you fancy branching out on your own then Yellow Door, Cable Street and Citiblock amongst others, also rent flats and houses in town, providing Topshop and KFC as vital next door neighbours.
Although living nearer to the centre might save you a couple of quid on taxis to Sugar, be careful not to be blinded by the convenience, budget wisely and consider the realities of the costs over the year. The rent on a typical house is usually much cheaper than campus, but, it’s important to consider whether bills are included in your weekly payments. Some landlords may charge per room per week, others may offer an inclusive rate with all bills included, this helps prevent arguments over turning the lights off and allows you shower in peace without the guilt. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to campus, take note of whether you will be asked to pay rent over Summer. A 52 week let, whilst paying less weekly, can stretch the cost unnecessarily. Make sure you always check your contract carefully, fine print isn’t always your friend.
When viewing houses, don’t get caught up in the prospect of a massive luxury rooms, be realistic with your expectations, this is Lancaster we’re talking about. As much as the thought of a double bed is enough to have you running away from halls, most houses offer single beds with a comfortable work space. Don’t pass upon a decent house at an affordable price just because you want to upsize as houses go quickly. Think practically and avoid picking faults with the colour of the curtains. Location is also very important, especially when you have to somehow try and get to a 9am lecture in time. Look at the main bus routes and see if these are easily accessible, most bus stops or the station shouldn’t be more than 10 minutes away. Bus passes for the year can cost up to £200 so be aware of this when you’re working out costs.
But ultimately, try and find somewhere you can see yourself living and being able to work too. Finding a decent house is not entirely painless, but remember, once you sign that contract, it’s never too early to start planning the housewarming party.