The location of a student property will be every bit as important to your first experiences of living independently as the accommodation itself, so it’s vital you take time to do your research first.
Location, Location, Location
As every estate agent knows, location is everything. It doesn’t matter if your new student house is spacious, stylish and kitted out with all the latest mods and cons, if it’s miles away from university, stuck in a backwater lacking a decent shop, pub or takeaway, and plagued by disaffected hooded teens, then you’ll soon wish you’d prized your local environs over the size of your bedroom.
Factors to Consider
When selecting an area to live there are many aspects to consider. First and foremost, is it convenient for university, either by being a handy walk away or on a regular bus route? Likewise, is the town or city centre easily accessible?
The local infrastructure is also very important – you don’t want to have to jump on a bus or trudge miles every time you need to do your food shopping or have a low key evening at the pub.
Answers to such questions about student accommodation can usually be found on university-related websites, where you’ll typically find guides to the various student accommodation areas. In fact, before even picking out potential properties, it’s a good idea to use such guides to help you decide the target areas to focus on in your search.
As well as highlighting the advantages to certain parts of town, these guides will also offer valuable tips on which areas would suit certain types of student.
For example, undergraduates still intoxicated with joys of being young and free of the parental home, will likely be drawn to the livelier areas, which boast excellent potential for late night revelry. Postgraduates or mature students on the other hand, having grown weary of student highlife, might prefer the quieter locale. Also, if they don’t need to attend university as frequently they will be less concerned about securing accommodation that is convenient to the campus. What’s more, if their studies are going particularly well they might even be able to afford the leafier less ‘studenty’ parts of town!
Be Aware of the Negatives
Student area guides are useful in relaying the main positive aspects to an area but less so the negatives. Like estate agents, the more diplomatic area guides might describe known troubled areas as undergoing ‘regeneration’ or being ‘on the up’.
When researching an area, it’s important to be aware of any negative vibes, because they too will affect your experiences living there. No student should choose to live somewhere, for instance, where they feel unsafe walking home in the dark or where they feel unwelcome in the community.
However, aside from areas that are known for having serious crime problems, it is not for one person to advise what area is dodgier than the next; it is entirely subjective. In the interests of cheap rent, it’s a fact of student life that their accommodation will likely be located in less salubrious parts of town, but it’s up to the individual to decide whether or not an area feels uncomfortable or unsafe.
For example, an area bustling with people from different ethnicities speaking unfamiliar languages may be friendly and exciting to some but strange and intimidating to others.
First Hand Experience
The best way to gauge whether you like the atmosphere of an area, and feel reasonably safe there – as well as assess whether it is blessed with amenities and transport links – to go see it yourself and get a first hand feel for it.
Not only should you wander around a prospective area during the daytime, but also at night too, because the atmosphere can change dramatically when night falls and the street population changes. A good way of doing this is arrange a night out to some local bars.
Quiz the Tenants
Once you view a property and are shown around by the present tenants, it is worthwhile asking them about what they think about the community, its facilities and whether they find it safe. As the tenants don’t own the property and therefore not trying to sell it to you, they should answer frankly to any questions you might have.