For those of you having to go through Clearing this year, missing your target grades and examining what options remain to you can be incredibly stressful. You’re too busy preparing for phone interviews and the publication of placement lists. However, once you’ve secured a place, you now have another hurdle: where are you going to live? Overseas study is incredibly expensive and not all families have the resources to choose private serviced student accommodation (a great deal of which is already booked up, especially in popular educational destinations like central London). So this week we’re offering tips to help those of you who are joining the party a little late avoid the last-minute panic of an accommodation scramble.
Your first stop should be the accommodation office of your new university. You should do this as soon as your new university place is confirmed. However worried you may be, remain polite. Unfortunately you are in no position to make demands as the accommodation office is under no obligation to provide a room for you at this late stage. If they are able to help you, it is a good idea to manage your expectations. They may not be able to offer you the private room close to university that you wanted, but you may be able to get something. Try to focus on the positives. You won’t be living there that long and after a term you may be able to move if other student’s have dropped out. Also, remember the biggest positive of all: you now have a university place despite your less-than-ideal exam grades. Your life might just have changed in wonderful new ways that had previously never occurred to you.
If you are going to rent privately outside of university-approved serviced properties, don’t hand over any money without viewing the accommodation first and read any contracts you are signing carefully. Your main concern is that you are safe and secure, so check things like locks and smoke alarms as a priority. Even if the accommodation office isn’t able to offer you a room, they do provide services that will help you with this process. Websites like The Student Room (http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=289/) will have group that you can join to see what rooms are available in your area. There are a number of other online options, including SpareRoom (https://www.spareroom.co.uk/), StuRents (https://sturents.com/), RightMove Students (http://www.rightmove.co.uk/student-accommodation.html/svr/2709;jsessionid=1E81A746634F3A3736126A745D4E096F), Zoopla (http://www.zoopla.co.uk/), Gumtree (https://www.gumtree.com/) and Accommodation for Students (http://www.accommodationforstudents.com/).
Above all, learn to be safe. Ask your university for advice about the place you have selected, make sure you feel comfortable with the person or people you are going to be living with and take friends with you if you don’t want to go house hunting alone. Remember, a stable environment is the first step towards productive study.
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