Parent help: The top 5 priorities when you’re researching accommodation

There’s are lots of questions you’ll want answered when it comes to researching accommodation – here are 5 of the most important to consider.

There’s are lots of questions you’ll want answered when it comes to researching accommodation – here are 5 of the most important to consider.

1. Applying for accommodation

Students who don’t live at home while studying, will either live in accommodation managed by the university or owned by private landlords.

The main kinds of accommodation include:

  • halls of residence – shared accommodation with private bedrooms, often reserved for first year students
  • a shared student townhouse or apartment – with shared spaces and a private bedroom
  • a shared house with a private landlord – with a shared bathroom and possibly with a garden

You can research uni accommodation with our search tool –it’s a good idea to browse all the options, as everyone has their own preference. You can even take a virtual tour of accommodation to have an initial look around.

In terms of applying, once a student secures their place at uni they’ll be able to apply for accommodation through the uni’s website and arrange their tenancy. To have the best change of securing the accommodation they would like best, it’s worth checking whether the university has an accommodation deadline – and obviously make sure you apply by it!

2. Accommodation costs

Most students have what’s known as a maintenance loan – separate to the tuition fee loan – to help cover living costs. Students apply for both loans together through student finance. They’re means tested, meaning the student’s combined parental income is used to calculate how much they’ll get – and they don’t pay anything back until they’re earning enough to do so.

Students living in university-managed accommodation usually use some of their maintenance loan to pay for accommodation upfront each semester. If they’re renting privately, they’ll probably set up a direct debit with their landlord.

3. Bills

These vary from student to student – from how frugal they want to be to what they like doing in their spare time. If it’s their first time living independently, they might need to budget to begin with.

It could be worth encouraging them to think about:

  • food and drink
  • water, electricity, gas (sometimes included in accommodation fees)
  • gym subscriptions
  • apps, TV costs, games
  • phone and internet
  • travel

4. Location and facilities

Your child’s interests outside of their academic discipline could help them choose where they want to live. Many students like to be immersed in a cosmopolitan atmosphere – but if they’re more of a country dweller, they might want to be closer to a range of footpaths or green spaces.

You should also consider the amenities on offer. For instance, is your child likely to embrace the independence of doing their own washing – or will they save up a month’s worth of it for when they come back home? Perhaps on-site laundry facilities would prove futile, but hopefully they’ll be open to learning!

Think also, would they like to live near:

  • a gym, pool or fitness studio
  • a Students’ Union bar
  • laundry facilities(!)
  • medical services (some campuses have on-site medical centres)
  • spiritual and wellbeing areas
  • libraries and computer rooms

5. Safety

When it comes to on-campus security, universities usually have security guards and CCTV, and plenty of support teams they can contact. In student accommodation each room is lockable and there are often Residential Assistants on hand – usually students who are coming to the end of their own studies. They will probably have lived in similar accommodation already, so they’ll know the possible queries your child might have.

Or if students are thinking of living off-campus, most universities have an approved list of student landlords – which have minimum standards in quality and safety.

If in doubt, think about:

  • how secure the doors are, including the one to their bedroom
  • how safe does the local area feel?
  • do they have the necessary contents insurance?

There’s a fair bit to think about

We hope these considerations are helpful! If you have any questions about accommodation, you or your child could always chat to a student already at uni – you could ask them for tips on how they chose their accommodation.

What’s next?

Once you've made a decision, check our big list of things you need to prepare for the big move to uni.

Or start your student accommodation search here.