From Richmond Row to Broughdale, London is filled to the brim with student housing. There are so many factors to consider when looking for a place to live that it may seem overwhelming to even know where to begin. Even if you binge HGTV and are a self-proclaimed seasoned house hunter, leasing a place for the first time (or 100th time) can be intimidating and requires a lot of planning and care.
The first step is to keep a list and take notes when visiting houses, even if organizational skills aren’t your strong suit. You’re likely (or should be) seeing many places, and it’s easy to lose track of which had the campfire-worthy backyard and which had the “bedroom” with no windows. Here’s a list of pointers and things to watch out for when house hunting.
1. Are utilities included?
Utilities change the price of rent drastically. If utilities are not included in the rent, this also means becoming more conscious of the way your house uses energy. Utilities are half price from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and on weekends, so refrain from starting the dishwasher, doing laundry and taking long, hot showers until the evening. If utilities are separate from rent, ask the landlord how they are usually handled. Does the landlord deal with them but in a separate, monthly payment? Or are you in charge and left to fend for yourself as you learn the new world of hydro and gas?
2. Is wifi included?
Along the same line of thought, ask the landlord if Wi-Fi is included in the price of rent. Wifi is of huge importance to students: it must be fast and reliable for handing in assignments and Netflix binging the new season of Riverdale. If Wi-Fi is separate from the price of rent, and you can hold off on purchasing, most internet companies offer student deals toward the end of August. The more housemates in one place also means more ways to split the cost of unlimited Wi-Fi.
Which amenities the house needs depends on personal preference. If some houses didn’t have a dishwasher, the kitchen would never be clean. On-site laundry is a luxury that some non-student apartments don’t have in big cities, so take advantage of it while you can. Just because you’ve moved away from home doesn’t mean that your sheets don’t need to be washed every couple of weeks. On the other hand, amenities usually contribute to the utility bill, so don’t go overboard with the washing machine.
Location is one of the biggest factors when looking at houses. Are you an early riser? Then the commute from downtown may not stop you from getting to your 8:30 a.m. classes. Always running a little bit behind? Try closer to campus: if you sleep through the first fifteen minutes, there’s still time to brush your teeth and go. Proximity to class is important, but so is looking at what kind of stores and bus routes are around. Find the closest grocery store and ensure it’s on a bus route or within walking distance.
Although general messiness from previous tenants can be cleaned, there are certain stains that just don’t come out. If you don’t want your house to be haunted by parties past, make sure to double check that nothing is broken and the carpet is free of jungle juice. This also includes looking around at the state of windows and doors; if they’re broken, inform the landlord. If you don’t inform them right away and get them fixed, the landlord may charge you for the damage.
Some apartments have furniture either included in the rent or that is available separately to rent. If getting furniture to London would be a problem, like if you’re an international student or if you need to purchase an entire house's worth, then this may be your best option. If you’ve already fought your siblings for Grandma’s spare couch then make sure you’re able to picture it in the space available. You don’t want to end up stuck on moving day when the sofa doesn’t fit in the living room.
7. Coordinate bringing items with your roommates
You don’t need two coffee makers! Nor do all five housemates need to bring a spatula. As a house, coordinate to ensure you’re only getting one of each item. Break it down into sections: two roommates cover the kitchen, two get the living room and one gets the front entrance. Based on what the house needs and what roommates already own, make another list about who’s bringing what.
Bonus point: is the house haunted?
London has some pretty old houses...