In this week’s blog we will be looking at the more practical side of finding new accommodation; with useful tips about finding the perfect location and budget to ensure the best fit for your needs.
How much rent can I pay/afford?
So, you have your group of friends and you are ready to begin searching for your next home. A good place to start before making viewing arrangements is to sit down together to work out your budget as a group. If you have not watched Poppy’s video yet, I’d recommend taking a look as she shares some sound advice on budgeting.
Here are our 5 tops tips on budgeting and location:
1. Look at the rent and ask what utilities are included.
If bills are not included then can you find out from current tenants how much they are spending on average. If this is not an option, then it may be worth seeking estimates from utility companies and internet providers to get an idea of how much you will realistically need to add onto the weekly rent figure.
2. Calculate the cost for the whole duration of your contract.
Example: Your weekly rent is £130 and then you need to spend about £20 a week for utilities. This makes is a total of £150 a weekly for a contract that is, let’s say as an example, 48 week. This means you will be paying £7,200 per year.
An academic year is about 9 months long and according to Student Finance your student loan is paid every term with the last payment being in April.
So, that means that you need to have a budget of £800 a month if you do not want to be paying the rent during summer holidays (i.e. in June, July and August). Of course, if you spread that cost of 12 months it will lower the monthly payments to £600 a month but it will mean that you will need to find that money over the summer period when there is no student loan payments due.
Be mindful that the above example includes the cost of the accommodation only and I have not made any allowances for food, which you will need to add on to your weekly/monthly expenses and these can quickly add up!
Hopefully this example helps you to see that it’s the overall cost that matters and that looking for a shorter contract (one with less payments over the summer time) may save you a significant amount of money.
3. Be honest!
Have a frank conversation with your flatmates about these costs and do not be afraid to say that a particular accommodation everyone in your group really likes is not affordable for you. Financial worry will not help with your group dynamic and may impact on your studies and enjoyment of your entire university experience.
4. Be open-minded about the location.
Once you all have agreed on the cost then see what is available within your budget. Then, compare it with properties in a different area to see if you can get a better value for the money. Our private accommodation price map may be a useful starting point to see how prices differ across the city.
5. Practice your influencing and negotiation skills
Do not hesitate to negotiate your price, which may be an option, particularly if you are looking for an individual house. Having done your research you should know what you can get for your money and will be a strong position to get a better deal. After all, £5.00 a week may not seem like a lot but it will add up to £240 saving over a 48 week contract so it is certainly worth the question.
Remember that it’s important to research your options thoroughly and make sure that it will be both affordable and somewhere you will be happy to live before you commit yourself to anything. Exeter and the surrounding areas boast a variety of private accommodation options so you will be sure to find something that will suit you.
Wishing you a great week!