The University has found you accommodation, and congratulations on getting a place. So now it’s time to leave home for the first time, and here are our top tips for making a success of it:
Student halls are nowhere near as uniform as they used to be. Some places now have self-contained studios, some are rooms along a corridor, others are shared houses with different sized bedrooms. In the UK it's uncommon to be share a room with someone else. Rooms are usually single, shared kitchen and a shared bathroom/bathrooms if not en-suite.
Some will be equipped, some not.
Wait before buying to see what space is available, what facilities you can access and what your sharers already have.
If you’re in catered halls, make sure you know what facilities there are for food and drink outside of canteen hours.
If you’re arriving in landlord accommodation have a look under ‘first week’ below, and see if you can arrange any utilities etc in advance if the university hasn’t already sorted things. Unless all agreed in advance, you’ll need to negotiate bill paying etc between you.
Starta spreadsheet to keep track of all expenses and see how much you need to survive to get into good habits from the outset and serve you well if you move into private shared accommodation with friends at some point.
Apply now for student financing from your sponsor or via student loan: https://www.gov.uk/get-undergraduate-student-loan.
If you’ve been working somewhere, let them know you’ll be leaving (assuming that’s the case).
They may be able to arrange a transfer. Even if you don’t particularly want to keep the job in your new place, you’d be well advised to keep it to begin with. It can be a good place to meet people and at least you’ll have an income while you’re chasing all the other flexible hours work that every other student is chasing, at the same time as they’re all chasing.
Resigning early gives your workmates time to organise leaving drinks. Often (but not always) a plus.
Don't let them arrange a wild night out the evening before you drive off to your new life!
Check that you’re well stocked up on any regular medications, from asthma inhalers to contraceptive pills. You’ll eventually need to meet your doctor, but you don’t want to lose valuable ‘meeting people’ and ‘settling in’ time on an avoidable emergency prescription.
Pack in smaller boxes/bags, clearly marked with their destination (kitchen, bathroom, bedroom etc): your room may be up several flights of stairs, lifts may be blocked by others moving in at the same time and your unpacking will be faster.
Less is more: come overloaded and your room will be cluttered, and perhaps remain that way!
Prepare an ‘overnight bag’. If accommodation isn’t ready or suitable, there’s been a mix up or a minor problem, you have your bag to hand to check in elsewhere.
If everything goes completely smoothly, you have everything you need to hand and can sit around looking smug or ‘Netflicking’ while everyone else faffs. (Extra brownie points with flatmates if you use this time to help them out.)
Include toilet roll, hand soap, and favourite teddy. Don’t forget phone chargers, laptops etc – these are the things that all too often get left behind.
A bottle of wine or cans of beer etc are a way to break the ice with your new flatmates on your first night there. (Go easy though – you want them to see you at your best, not the back of your head over that ‘big white telephone to God’ - the loo!).
Arriving early, you get time to unpack and explore and may get first dibs on things like room, bathroom shelf space, kitchen cupboard space etc.
You also have time to make up your bed before it’s absolutely necessary, at which point you may be tempted just to lie down fully clothed under a counterpane. Do this and you’ll feel manky on your first day in your new home, and may set up a hard to break habit. Best not go there!
Saying goodbye to friends and family can be hard. Don’t string it out – agree what you’re going to do in terms of unloading, sharing goodbye coffees etc and go. Drawn out goodbyes are hard on everyone and may cause tears at a time you’re about to meet the people you’re sharing with. You can cry into your pillow later if you need to.
Electricity, gas, landline phone, wifi etc may well be connected before you move in. For anything metered, take meter readings on arrival.
If you’re in landlord rather than Uni accommodation, agree with flatmates whose name will be on the bill and how you’re going to arrange payments.
You will need to do at least some of the following, if you haven’t already:
· Find out where the closest and the cheapest supermarkets are.
· Change your address on your driving licence.
· Change your address with your bank (and find out where cashpoints and local branches are).
· Register with a new GP.
· Find the best route to get to your faculty, the library, the Students Union, on campus student cafes/bars, and essential places dictated by the university for registration, Freshers Week activities etc.
· Register for your course (The university should tell you how to do this.)
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