Moving out of halls can be a financially complex endeavor, with rising demand fueling an increase in rental costs. The national rent average increased by eleven percent in 2016 alone, and the added burden of dealing with bills only makes matters worse.
It sparked one of the largest rent strikes in the history of England, with about 1000 UCL students protesting the rent increase in London.
Whilst rents in Norwich have not increased as much as some areas, costs can be minimised for students leaving university accommodation by being aware of some things.
When asked what advice he would give future students leaving halls, graduate student Nymie said: “Don’t wait until the end of the term to start looking for houses.”
Even in your first semester, it is worth scouting potential student properties. Some property agencies charge fees and some landlords demand exorbitant deposits. House-hunting is time-consuming business. You will spend whole days walking round Norwich looking for the perfect place but the aching feet are worth it for somewhere safe to live for your first year off campus.
Viewing the property, getting to know your landlord or agency, and being considered as a tenant generally takes multiple viewings to find the right fit for you. Then, if all goes well, you can pay the deposit and sign the contract.
When reading the contract, you should pay attention to extraneous fees. It is also important to ask the landowner for proof that they gave your deposit to the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme (as required by law since 2007).
For those moving in now, taking pictures before, and asking for an inventory, can also prevent unfair fines.
Unlike in halls, bills are often paid for separately and may be your responsibility to organize. Splitting bills without splitting hairs need not be difficult.
Companies like Glide and Splitwise do the hard work for you, but beware of extra charges, or be organized and split the bills amongst yourselves, and do not forget TV licenses. At £147 per year, it is a lot cheaper than the £1,000 fine you risk if you watch TV (or catch-up services) and fail to pay.
What’s also important to remember, is that it’s ok to ask for your letting agency to fix problems with your house. At first, it feels like pestering or that they are doing you a favour, that maybe you should just get on with it and live without an upstairs light bulb.
But they aren’t. Even if you are a student, you are paying for a service and you deserve to recieve it. So go to them with any problems, and more often than not they are happy to solve them. It is their job.
For those who are struggling, help is at hand. UEA offers a variety of scholarships (https://www.uea.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/scholarships) and the Student Support service can offer financial advice.
Some governments also offer scholarships and grants for their international students (http://www.scholars4dev.com).
At the end of the day, moving out of halls is exciting, as long as you prepare for it. With increasing rents and extra responsibilities, life after halls is not easy. But in the meantime, enjoy the experience. It will give you valuable life skills. Even if it does give you a headache at the same time.