Siobhan from the Advice and Money Team, explains why you shouldn’t sign for a house too early.
Every year for as long as I can remember (and I’ve been here a while), the festive season is always accompanied by an unwarranted panic to sign for future accommodation. There seems to be this idea that you must sign for next year’s house before you leave for your Christmas holidays. This is a myth – there is plenty of accommodation in Cardiff, far more than the number of students that are looking! Panicking over housing now is like worrying that there’ll be no Bounty’s left in the Celebrations box (unless of course, you know one of those rare specimens of human that like Bounty).
So don’t get caught up in the panic! There is definitely no need to commit to anything for 2017/18 this early. You have only been here for 12 weeks. I hadn’t even unpacked all my boxes in 12 weeks, never mind looking for a house and signing a contract.
There are 3 things you need to think about at this time of the year regarding house hunting, before you even consider looking for student houses.
Do you know them?
12 weeks, yep 12 weeks. That’s the length of your first term. It felt like forever when you first arrived but it’s flown by already. Have you really got to know people in that time? Are they noisy, messy, never clean the bathroom, don’t replace the toilet roll or pinch your food from the fridge?? In 12 weeks you may not have even noticed some bad habits. You think you can live with them, but can you really?
Relationships take time to form. Would you marry someone in 12 weeks? Take your time to get to know a potential housemate. 12 months living with someone who is lazy or inconsiderate could feel like a prison sentence or affect your studies.
Sign for a house or buy a train ticket home for the Christmas recess?
With festive nights out, dinner in halls and the obligatory Christmas jumper (even if it is a Primark special) on top of your usual spending, can you afford a deposit of one month’s rent? (Roughly £300-£325) And the letting agency fees? (Varies from £50-£150)
If your overdraft is already groaning at you, your banking app is sending you warnings and you’re close to your overdraft limit – Can you really afford £400 now?
Waiting till after Christmas means you may have received money as gifts or maybe you were able to fit in a few hours of paid work. You may also be expecting a Cardiff University Bursary payment at the end of January. All this will help with your budgeting and stop those banking Apps from texting.
If think you could benefit from a little guidance on finances, learn more about managing your money here.
Have you got the time?
Looking for a house takes time, if you want to find the right one for you. December and January should be a time for essays, revision or exams, not trawling the internet and traipsing after letting agents looking for somewhere to live. There’s no point finding somewhere to live if you can’t come back because you didn’t pass your assessments.
Guides for finding your student digs
Once your deadlines and exams are out of the way then you can start the house hunting discussions. Further information on starting the process can be found here.
Take your time. Read the House Hunting Guide and make the right decisions at the right time for you.
House hunting shouldn’t be a quick process, so try to make the right decisions for 2017/18. You should think carefully about who you want to live with, and if you think you could live with the friends you’ve made so far.
Watch our video on ‘House Hunting’
Other useful sources of information
Come and see us in Advice and Money
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Siobhan, Advice and Money Team.
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