Going through Clearing and then searching for last-minute accommodation can be incredibly stressful. But it doesn't have to be! The Student Hut team has put together this Survival Guide to Student Accommodation after Clearing!

So, you have managed to survive the Clearing process and you’re now definitely going to university in September! That's amazing! Go you!

It has, no doubt, been a crazy and stressful time for you and it’ll probably take a moment to sink in, but before you relax for the rest of your summer, make sure you have your uni accommodation sorted. It’s another slightly stressful hurdle to get over, but the Student Hut Team have put together this handy guide to help you.

 

DON’T PANIC!

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As is often the case, panicking won’t help you solve anything! Try to remain calm and design your strategy - make yourself an action plan of who you are going to contact and when.

Make sure you check your uni’s accommodation application process for students arriving through Clearing. 

Draw up a list of requirements you have for your accommodation. Think about things like:

  • Location

  • Whether or not you want an ensuite bathroom

  • How many other people you want to share with

  • Whether you want catered or non-catered halls

After this, you need to consider your budget (and take into account extra costs like bills etc.) It’s helpful to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for - BUT you must also be prepared to compromise!

 

UNIVERSITY ACCOMMODATION Services

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First things first, you should talk to your uni’s accommodation service. Some unis actually guarantee students who join through Clearing a room (either in uni-run or privately-owned halls).

Some universities don’t guarantee it, but will do their best to find you a place, and as long as you aren’t too late in contacting them, there is a chance they will find you one.

If you don’t get a place in university-run halls, they may be able to help you secure a place in privately-owned halls.

If all else fails, they should be able to give you the names of some private landlords or letting agents that are approved by the university.

Don’t be afraid to ask - this accommodation service is in place so that you don’t have to find accommodation and live away from home without any assistance. They could even help you with stuff like understanding contracts for privately-rented accommodation if you have no-one else to ask.  

 

University HALLS OF RESIDENCE

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Some unis actually hold Clearing Information/Open Days, so definitely look into them and attend if any are at the unis you’re thinking of! This means you’ll get a chance to have a little look at whatever halls are still available.

Don’t immediately react negatively if you aren’t offered the standard of room you would have originally liked. As long as not having an ensuite, for example, wouldn’t be too uncomfortable or anxiety-inducing, don’t instantly reject the non-ensuite room you’ve been offered. You’ll probably find that it doesn’t make much difference to your halls experience in the end!

Remember your budget! Sometimes, the top-end rooms are all that are left along with the least expensive rooms. Don't be blinded by luxury! Can you honestly afford to stay here? Would you really want to stay if it meant you had no spare money for fun? Don't allow the uni accommodation service to pressure you into accepting accommodation that is too expensive. Be firm with the person you’re dealing with!

 

PRIVATE HALLS

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Unis may block-book space in private halls, which they can offer to you when you get in through Clearing. Or the uni may simply recommend a private halls company they are affiliated with.

There are lots of private halls companies nationwide, but there will also be local companies, so make sure you check out all the options.

In private halls, you should ask to be put with other freshers from your university, and they will do their best to accommodate you.

Private halls companies to consider (it’s a place to start at least!):

 

PRIVATELY RENTING / HOUSE SHARING

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If uni halls just aren’t a possibility and you need to privately rent in a house share, make sure you join all the housing-related Facebook groups affiliated with your uni. You will be able to pick up important information and advice, as well as seeing when people are looking for a housemate. You could also use these Facebook pages to get together with a number of other freshers to organise sharing a house with each other.

In addition to talking to your uni’s accommodation service, you could try asking the student union for advice. They might be able to point you in the right direction with letting agents and steer you away from common problems. It also couldn’t hurt to ask local letting agents if any of their tenants are looking for a housemate.

The first very important piece of advice regarding renting privately is to always view the property. Never hand any money over before you see the property/room!

The next thing to remember is that you will need to pay a deposit on your property/room and your landlord or letting agent will expect you to have a guarantor.

Don't forget that agency fees will be an extra expense when you rent through a letting agency!

Here is a handy list of places to start your search for privately rented student accommodation:

 

SOCIAL LIFE WHEN YOU’RE NOT IN HALLS

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You might be feeling a little disappointed that you haven’t got a place in halls and worried that you will miss out on some of the fun that freshers usually have. What you must remember is that your social life at university doesn’t solely depend on housemates - you will also make friends on your course, in your sports teams and in any other societies you decide to join. And who knows...the people you end up living with in your shared accommodation could become your life-long best friends!

Don’t forget, universities often hold special events during freshers for those in private halls and privately renting (and those who have decided to live at home) to make sure that you get to meet each other, get into the social spirit of things and don’t miss out on any of the fun!

 

PROS AND CONS OF EACH ACCOMMODATION TYPE

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Halls of residence

Pros

  • Often nearer to uni

  • Bills are included (less for you to organise/worry about)

  • Easy to meet and make friends with other freshers

Cons

  • Can be pretty noisy

  • Can be quite expensive

  • Are sometimes located quite far away from a supermarket/grocery shops and any nightlife

Private halls

Pros

  • Still get to have that university halls “experience”

  • A bit more protected/sheltered than when you rent privately

  • Still quite easy to meet other people your age and at your university (others in the same boat as you - a surefire way to make friends!)

Cons

  • Can be more expensive than uni-run halls

  • There's not an option to swap rooms in private halls

  • Might have to make more of an effort to get involved with freshers stuff (they won’t necessarily bring the fun to you, so you need to take yourself to it!)

Privately renting/house sharing

Pros

  • Often less noisy than halls

  • Often better choice of locations - might be able to find somewhere near-ish uni, as well as shops and nightlife

  • Can be cheaper than halls

Cons

  • Bills not included (more to organise/think about)

  • Smaller group of people to meet and not quite the same “social” feel as halls, but still great fun

  • Might be harder to get involved with freshers stuff - really try to make the effort!

 

TOP TIPS!

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  • Act quickly! There’s no time to drag your heels. With some unis, you may be put on a waiting list for a room in halls - it makes sense that if you act quickly, you’ll be higher up the waiting list and thus in with more of a chance of securing a place in halls.

  • Research, research, research!

  • Be prepared to compromise!

  • Follow your uni’s housing office on Twitter (if they have an account) - they might tweet about people looking for housemates

  • Wherever you end up living, make sure you always go with the most sociable option available! Ask to be housed with freshers from your uni in private halls or look to house share with people who are also freshers or, at least, share some of your interests

  • Remember to check what is included in the rent you’re paying - in uni-run halls this isn’t a problem, but in private halls and house shares, it’s sensible to check what else you’ll need to be paying out for. Think bills, insurance, licences etc. Remember to factor this in when considering budgets!

  • Always read the contract for your accommodation (however long and tedious it is!) before signing it!

  • Remember that in private halls and student house shares, you can’t swap rooms (like in uni-run halls) or drop out, because you’re bound by a contract for the year. Make sure you’re happy with everything you’ve decided before you sign the contract.

  • Finally, if you end up in university halls and you find that you’re very unhappy about something, you can always ask about swapping rooms - there is sometimes a list of people who wish to swap. There might be a match with someone who’d prefer your room - so just ask the housing office if such a list exists at your uni and what can be done if not.

 

Just remember that, at a stressful, busy time like this, you’re doing amazingly well! You’ve got yourself a university place, when a few days ago even that seemed uncertain! Be very proud of yourself and try to keep calm for this next hurdle. It really isn’t as hard or scary as it seems when you break it down into manageable steps, and there are people and services around to ask for help every step of the way.

Whatever accommodation you end up in, we're sure that you’ll have the most amazing university experience and Student Hut will be with you every step of the way!

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