Monday, 12 May 2014

The state of student accommodation

Well, if you thought students have an easy life, think again.

These days students are borrowing thousands to pay for somewhere to live to do there studies. Sure unipol etc have come up with a few rules for landlords to adhere to but these are just some rules and do not cover the overall condition of a house.

I think when you are paying 50+ for a room in a house you should be expected to get a nice kitchen, nice bathroom and some decent decoration. To many houses are simply thrown together by some handyman from bristol.

I mention Bristol as that is where I live and I shall name and shame my property. It is in the student quarter of the city and on a main road, about half way up. Thats all I will give away. Would you want to rent this place? No is your answer. Why not? Because the furniture looks like somebody else has already thrown it out. The kitchen looks like it was taken from a caravan and the bathroom, well I never knew you could ever buy a sweet in dark brown. That is not sarcasm either the bath, sink and w/c all match in dark brown.

Now I think all landlords with ageing properties no that one day these things will need to be modernised. Why not do it now, if you do not I hope your house does not rent next year!!

A decent handyman in Bristol is not hard to find, with all the sales on at big builders depots bathrooms and kitchens have come down a lot in price. So do yourself a favour and stop being tight!!

Friday, 7 March 2014

A little help choosing your student house

When looking for a student property there are going to be several factors which you need to consider before choosing the perfect house.

Initially, the most important thing is affordable rent. You could find the best property in a lovely area with the most wonderful surrounding which suits you perfectly but if the rent is extortionate you are not going to be able to afford that as a student! Work out your budget before you even view a property. Don’t visit properties with higher rents than your budget – if you can’t afford it on paper then you can’t afford it in reality and you are likely to get yourself into a mess trying to maintain a standard of living which is beyond your capacity.
So once you have narrowed down the field in terms of price-range, you will likely have several areas which are available to you as properties usually are in trends depending on the area – most 3 bed semis in a certain area will be a similar price etc. You will find that you sometimes get more for your money in reduced standards – IE – the decor may not be very modern but the living space is slightly larger, often the equation of rent is based on the property that is offered in total – not just size. That is why you will find that you sometimes get a very large housing opportunity that is much bigger than others in the area but there is peeling paint and the odd stained carpet. The Landlord is choosing the reduce the rent rather than pay to remedy the repairs to decoration, this will obviously be of benefit to you if you are on a tight budget and are not too concerned with busy wallpaper.

The next thing to consider is how you will travel. If you have a car, this makes things easier but do consider petrol costs on a regular basis – if it a 20 minute drive each way to your campus, you are going to be spending a fair amount on fuel each month. If you do not drive then you are going to need to look into bus routes in the surrounding areas. Don’t just consider getting to campus. How will you get to and from libraries, Doctors surgeries, the local supermarket and of course getting to and from those late nights out in town? Look at bus routes and times – especially if you are coming from an area where buses run all the time, as this is not always the case and they may not run all throughout the night or on Sundays!
So when you have considered how near you will need to be to University and how you will get there, you should have whittled down your potential areas a little further. You will be left with one or two areas with affordable houses for your budget. Now you need to consider the houses in this area, make appointments to view some and work out what you will be getting for your money – and if you have to compromise, what the most important things in the house are! For example, a small garden area would be acceptable but would 1 bathroom in a house of 6 students? If you have to choose between a large garden and two bathrooms, which is going to benefit you most in the long run. Consider that you will use the bathrooms every day (hopefully) but how often will you use the garden? If the weather is good you could just as easily go to a local park or pub garden!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

A word from MUM about your student accommodation

Since my son moved to Nottingham to study at university last year I have tried my best to keep my beak out of his business and let him get on with things in his own way. But as any parent will understand this really is easier said than done, especially when everything, despite their independence they still seem to come knocking when they need more money!
Well next term he will be moving out the halls of residence and into private student accommodation. I think this is quite a big deal, and there are several points to consider before making this important transition. Well I must be over thinking it or something because although my son is excited about the move and has already worked how who he will be sharing with and how wild the partying will be, he has gave little consideration to the financial aspect of the move. So I will be heading down to Nottingham at the weekend to hopefully give him a gentle nudge in the right direction. The university seems to be a good place to get some initial advice about how much the rent should be, and where the bulk of student accommodation is etc. Then I think we will do the rounds of some local letting agencies, i’ve already contacted a couple online and arranged some viewings at some potential properties.

Hopefully my son will appreciate my input and not just think I am interfering. But I need to know he is safe, not getting ripped off and fully equipped to manage in a student property.

Monday, 6 January 2014

choosing student accommodation

If you are looking for student accommodation, you will usually have several options; halls of residence (a room in the university halls, although, in many cases these are limited to first year students), a room in a student house (where you rent 1 room in a house directly from a private landlord), a student house (you and a group of other students rent a house and you are responsible for the entire rent regardless if one of the other students vacates the property) or living with your parents (perhaps not the coolest solution, but certainly more financially achievable if you are within commuting distance of your university).
When making your choice you need to consider financially which options are open to you. If you are living in a privately rented house you will need to pay for not only your accommodation but bills (which are not usually included in the rent) such as gas and electric, council tax (although this is sometimes included so you would need to confirm this with each individual landlord you meet with regarding renting a property), water rates, TV license, and of course other day to day costs including food costs, clothing and health and beauty costs. Although this may seem daunting remember that you will be in shared accommodation and will be jointly responsible for bills – council tax usually comes in around £140 a month (depending on area)  and will be discounted for students, you will then be splitting this amount by the number of people renting rooms in the property. Again, the same with household bills such as heating etc. But you will need to consider how you arrange any differences – if you go home in the holidays but others stay so how will the bills be worked out for this period? Will you just split all the bills evenly or will you work out usage amounts for specific times and split them? You are going to be relying on all members of the household jointly being responsible and none of them refusing to pay any bills. How will you overcome this situation if it arises?

Living in a student house is slightly more complicated as it involves making a rental agreement for the house. You would be responsible for finding and replacing any member of the household who decides to leave, so if somebody drops out of uni half way through the year, you would be responsible for finding somebody to pay their share of the rent and live in their room – if you can’t then you would be responsible for finding the extra cash (between those living in the house) to pay the shortfall!
If you are living in university halls there is usually a one of monthly fee which includes all costs. Quite often there will also be a cleaner who services the property too which will be an added bonus! If you are a quiet, hard working student, consider that not all students will be quite as diligent. How will you manage if there are students being loud and partying while you are trying to work or sleep and how will this impact your studies?

If your parents live within commuting distance of your university, this will certainly be more than likely the cheapest accommodation you will find – which will give you more time to study rather than trying to work to find the money to pay your bills. You will probably not have the freedom you would have as a student living away from home so consider what you want from your time at university and what is most important to you.

For great quality student accommodation in nottingham take a look here at shields student homes

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Improving your student house in Nottingham on a budget, written by my daughter

I have lived in my current student house in Nottingham for the last year. Being creative, I was keen to improve my student room from the mish-mash of bland furniture that my room contained. I am not one for lots of posters and wanted to make my room feel home like home and add some of my own style. However, being a student there was one obvious barrier to this – Money! I could easily find lots of things I wanted in my bedroom in my student home, but unfortunately most of my tastes didn’t meet my budget. This is where my creative side came in!
My student home in Nottingham was located very near the city centre. Luckily, Nottingham has a large city centre and a wide range of shops from expensive designer shops to pound and charity shops. I actually started my search for bits and pieces for my room in some of the more pricey shops, the ones I would have gone to at home with my parents. It was then I realised that paying £15 plus for a cushion was not going to suit my student budget. This is when I realised I needed to be creative in order not to compromise on the final effect.
The first thing I desperately needed was a full length mirror, essential when getting ready for those nights out. I had a look around some charity shops located near my student home and came across a full length mirror with a plain wooden frame for £3.50. It was in good condition but did not quite have the style I wanted. My room was currently quite bare and dull looking apart from a purple duvet my parents had bought me. I decided that I wanted a purple frame to match. I went to Wilkinson’s and picked up a tester pot of purple paint, a cheap brush and some masking tape for £5. I then masked off the edge of the mirror and painted the frame purple. One dried I peeled off the tape and had a great, unique mirror.
The next thing I wanted was some pictures. I love flowers and butterflies but couldn’t afford expensive pictures or canvases. I had a look around some DIY shops and found some wallpaper I liked. Although you are not allowed to decorate in most student homes, especially not with wallpaper, I love the designs and cut some rectangles of wallpaper out and placed them in cheap frames to make some stylish pictures. If you don’t know, most DIY stores let you tear of samples of wallpaper rolls to take home so you can easily get enough for a few pictures from free samples. There is nothing better than things which are free!
Another issue I had was storage. I have loads of clothes and trying to fit them into the limited storage in my room in my student accommodation wasn’t very successful. I found a small bookcase for £5 in a charity shop. I then discovered cheap vacuum bags in a pound shop – great for storing thick jumpers in the summer months. I also had some paint left over from the mirror and used this to paint some old shoe boxes which were great to place on top of a chest of drawers for storing cosmetics. I also found boxes which I received jewellery in for presents were usually quite attractive and useful for storing hair bobbles and clips.
I also found trawling round cheap shops was rewarding and I picked up some real bargains. My favourite was a purple lampshade with black flowers on from The Range for £1.99! Some of my other favourites include Pound Shops (it is surprising what you can get for a pound!), Wilkinsons, Supermarkets, Ikea (if you have someone who can drive it is just of Junction 26 of the M1), Argos, Home bargains, B&M bargains and Dunhelm Mill.
Now I am in my third year at University, my second in my student house in Nottingham and think I have finally got my room just how it! Though I always have an eye out for a bargain…I can’t resist!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Throwing a Student Party in Nottingham

One great thing I have found about living in a Student House in Nottingham, is the ability to throw a great party. Although we have needed to ensure that we don’t disturb the neighbours too much and made sure they relatively small affairs, they have been a great part of student life and one big advantage of choosing to live in student accommodation rather than living at home. I have found that the best parties we have thrown or been to have been ones that have had a theme and have involved some type of dressing up. Having a theme for a party definitely gets everyone in the right mood. I am going to share with you some of my top themes for parties and also where you can get hold of the things you need. This is based on what is available in Nottingham, although I am sure similar things are available in different cities.

The first theme we ever had was a cowboy/girl theme. The idea for this came out of a trip round the 99p shop at the top of the Broadmarsh shopping centre where we stumbled across cowgirl hats for 99p. We were thinking about having a party for one of our housemates birthday and saw the hats and thought they would be great to wear for her birthday. This was an easy theme to do as apart from the hat the rest of the outfit was easy to put together. We all has denim skirts, shorts or jeans and but the time we has plaited our hair and added a few freckles with some brown eyeliner the look was complete. We downloaded a few well known tracks to fit the them such as ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ and ‘5,6,7,8’ to get the party started. The party was well received by all those who attended, who all really went for it with dressing up. One person even turned up on a singing hobby horse! This was the start of themed parties amongst our student friends.
The next party we decided to go for a glam red carpet theme. We created some cheap cocktails (search for cheap student cocktails for ideas) and found some plastic martini and champagne glasses in the pound shop on Lister Gate, Nottingham. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford Champagne so cheap sparkling wine did the trick. We also found some feather boas and plastic tiaras in pound shops too. The cocktails were very popular and we asked people coming to bring spirits and mixers to add to the collection. We had a great night making cocktails, although I would not recommended throwing bottles like you see the professionals do! Apparently, it is very easy to drop them!
Another popular party we held at our student house was an eighties theme. For this shops like Primark and H&M were great for clothes and pound shops and EBay were good for accessories. A great place to get cheap old CD’s we found is ‘That’s entertainment’ which is located near Tesco’s on Nottingham’s Victoria Centre, This shop sells preowned CD’s and DVD’s starting from about 99p each. We spent about £6 on a few 80’s compilation albums which meant that we could just put them on and not worry about finding suitable songs. We also set up sing star with 80’s tracks which was fantastic entertainment for the night.
Another great excuse for a party is Halloween. We found lots of shops in town and supermarkets stock lots of stuff to decorate your house cheaply. As budget our budget was tight, we focus on decorating one room in the house to make more of an impact, rather than spreading the decorations we had throughout our house. A friend of ours had an apple tree in the garden of their student house, which provided lots of apples for apple bobbing, which was quite interesting after a few drinks.
We are currently looking forward to our next party and are toying with either a ‘uniform’ or ‘school days’ theme. Hopefully we will find some more bargains in town.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

WOW! My sons accommodation needs

Ok, it seems I have failed to teach my son anything about money! We are trying to find some appropriate student accommodation in Nottingham for when he moves there at the beginning of next term. I’m not being tight, and I genuinely want him to be comfortable and happy wherever he ends up living but I refuse to be suckered in by those charging a premium for shiny new televisions and leather suites! My son may be house hunting for the first time but I have been there, done that and got the tshirt and I’m just not falling for it no way…!

As I mentioned before we travelled down to Nottingham the other week to view a few student properties we had found on line. Well in general we were pretty impressed with the standard of accommodation on offer and we shor tlisted about 3 that we both agreed were reasonably priced and within the right area. At least that's what I thought anyway, turns out my beloved little boy had different ideas and he is now trying to persuade me to part with a bit more cash for a swanky new build which is granted, built specifically for students and very nice but nowhere near where he needs to be and by no means cheap!

We set up a savings account for Liam years ago to help him out when he was ready to go to uni, buy a house or a car, whatever….just a bit of a leg up for when he left school. There is a couple of grand in there so not a fortune and I don’t expect it to last long but now it seems it will be swallowed up in no time in rent alone. I’m sure the student accommodation in Nottingham is pretty much the same as anywhere else in the country. But as Nottingham has such a high proportion of students there seems to be quite a bit of competition between various letting agencies and landlords to offer the best deals and fill as many properties as they can. In my opinion a bit of competition is usually a good thing but it can sometimes cloud your judgement, particularly if you are an excited 19 year old leaving home for the first time.

The new builds are great I have to agree. Secure, modern, and well placed around shops, bars and takeaways. Liams excited because one of them has an onsite gym that is free to use. I don’t know why, he hates sport and has never set foot in a gym in his life!! Anyway i’m not convinced they offer the same value for money as some of the older properties that have been well maintained and kitted out to accommodate half a dozen students under one roof. For me, when I was at uni,  thats what being a student was all about. Ruffing it a bit and making some really good friends through sharing some quite dodgy experiences!!

Kids these days!! They just expect so much more than we ever did. I never thought finding student properties would be so complicated.  I’m sure we will find a compromise somewhere along the line but I am standing firm on this one.It is my responsibility to help him make the right decision and to make him realise that Mother is always right!!