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This year’s National Student Money Week is all about housing. Read our tips on getting it right.

Get student housing right

It’s that time of year when students need to start thinking about their digs for the next academic year so housing is the theme for this year’s National Student Money Week, run by the the National Association of Student Money Advisers (NASMA).

The campaign focuses on Where I Live, highlighting the financial pressures of living costs, debt and budgeting. All areas which shouldn’t be impacting studying.

Yet the costs are significant. Research last year from Save The Student revealed 50% of a student’s monthly spend is going on rent and that last year 17,000 students in halls fell behind with their payments. This is no surprise when the average rent is £125 per week, and a whopping £180 in London.

Where to live?

Uni halls, private halls, living with parents and private landlords – which to choose from first year through to your final year? Living with parents is the cheapest option, however according to Save the Student only 8% choose this route, as the fear of missing out means students would prefer to pay more for independence and a social life.

Private landlords were the most popular choice at 47%, along with 34% of students choosing uni accommodation. Although these options can be costly there are some tricks to help keep those costs down. Don’t be afraid to ask – most landlords are keen for a 12-month contract however some will allow a shorter contract to coincide with terms finishing in May/June or will offer reduced rent during these summer months.

Haggle with estate agents – letting fees are still very much around despite a ban hopefully on the way, so if you’re moving out of halls being brave and asking to have them wiped or reduced in price isn’t unheard of. Alternatively there are sites that you can use that only feature private landlords, meaning you won’t have to pay those admin fees.

Discounts that can help pay the rent

Students are exempt from paying council, although bear in mind if you’re living with non-students as they are eligible to pay. It’s up to you whether you split the cost between you as a gesture of good will but you are in no way bound to pay.

There are also countless student discounts available which can help save some much-needed rent money. Be sure to take advantage of student discounts from saving on clothing and eating out through to reduced rail or tube fares.

Bills, bills, bills

If your name is on the bill then you’re within your rights to switch energy, broadband and TV provider and get a better deal. If you rent from a private landlord then it’s always worth talking to your landlord to let them know.

You can also save by making use of student bundles on tv/internet, shop around and see if one can beat the price of another.

Make sure you’re only paying for what you use. Research from uSwitch.com has revealed that the average mobile user pays for 3.4GB of data they don't use each month, so it’s worth taking a look to see if you can reduce your package and save on your phone bill.

The same can be said for internet. Don’t be drawn in by large download speeds or unlimited usage if you’re not going to be using it. Make use of the free Wifi at your uni, as well as the electricity, charge any laptops or phones rather than at home.

Budgeting

Budgeting whilst at uni can be hard to start, as well as maintain, but making sure you have enough for all rent and bills (and to live) can help ease the financial stress.

‘No spend days’ – with some careful planning, undertaking one or two days a week where you don’t spend a penny can help keep the monthly spending under control.

Nights in – getting your mates around to watch a film, play some board games or just have a catch up can be a much cheaper alternative to going out. A couple of times a month and you’ve saved a lot of pounds that can instead go towards your bills.

Shopping smart – grab those yellow stickered items and pay less for your food shop. Aim to go in the evenings and buy reduced items that can be frozen on the day of purchase, go armed with a list and shop around to get the best deal.

 

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