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How to beat the student house hunt

By Lucy Pegg

Thursday 22 February 2018 Student Journalists

As Spring term begins many students will begin what can be one of the most stressful parts of student life; the house hunt. With tight budgets and overwhelming demand, it can seem impossible to find a house you can afford which will also be nearing pleasant to live in.

Once you’ve viewed your sixth or seventh house without success, you might have decided that you’re going to have to settle for a less than perfect choice. Perhaps a few rooms are far too small, or the location is less than convenient; it can seem that every house has a plethora of problems that make it not quite right. But sometimes what may seem like an unsolvable dilemma may be easier to live with than you expect.

A small kitchen is a blight upon many in an otherwise faultless student house. Maybe there’s a lack of work surfaces, or possibly it has a layout that feels cramped and claustrophobic. Whilst a spacious open plan kitchen, worthy of Nigella Lawson or Jamie Oliver, may be ideal, there are plenty of solutions to a lack of kitchen space. See if you could take turns cooking group meals, so that only one or two people are needed in the kitchen even when everyone is eating. Or consider how often your whole house will even be in the cooking space at once during term time. You might be struggling to fit around the dining table during your house viewing, but if your housemates all have different schedules and lifestyles it’s very possible you’ll rarely find the kitchen full on a day-to-day basis.

Another common issue is the box room. When family homes have been desperately converted into student accommodation, the reorganisation often results in some very tiny living spaces. These might seem particularly problematic if all the other rooms in the property are of a reasonable size, leaving one housemate to put up with a far smaller dwelling. There are plenty of ways to make it work though; if one housemate is more cash-strapped than the rest they might jump at the chance to live in a small room for a slightly reduced rent, or if the house has good shared storage space you could agree that the owner of the smaller room gets priority using it, so they can make the most of the limited space in their room. Smaller rooms can often be in loft conversions too, meaning they’re quietly hidden away at the top of the house, maybe with a lovely view thrown in for good measure.

Mould is also a problem which plagues many a student house. Large patches of deep mould throughout the house should certainly warn you off renting, but if the mould seems surface level and only in very limited areas you could consider choosing the house anyway. Minor mould can be easily wiped away with a special cleaning spray, so if the mould is in explainable places – such as near windows or in bathrooms – it could only be a minor, and fixable, problem. Be careful though, and be sure to flag any questionable issues such as this up with the estate agents as you’re viewing the property.

What if you have a less solvable issue, such as if the house of your student budget dreams is in an odd location? Being off the beaten track doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Areas which are less student-centric often have cheaper rent and you might be near more affordable supermarkets, pubs and other amenities too. If you prefer a quieter life, the lack of students can also mean you escape the sound of 4am house parties and rowdy nights out too. And even if you’re not near public transport to your university or the city centre, you should check out whether you could walk or cycle those journeys instead.

As long as your new property is safe and within your budget, imaginative thinking can transform any student house into a comfortable home for you and your friends.