How to find a place to live at University

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How to find a place to live at University

Even if you’re not sure where you’ll be studying in 2021, it’s a good idea to research your options as soon as possible.

University accommodation can often be competitive. However, you might be lucky in 2021,  with fewer international enrolments meaning there may be more options to choose from. There have to be some wins from the train wreck of 2020.


Check with the unis first


Of course the best place to start your search will be on the Accommodation pages of the universities that you’ve applied to.

Need a helping hand? You can find universities in our database, select the campus that you’ll be studying at and click on the accommodation link on the left. Nothing there? Head to the university’s main page and search “accommodation” or simply call the future students team for some advice.


University accommodation guarantees


Universities know that finding accommodation can be challenging, especially if it’s your first year away from home.

Many of them also offer a guarantee that if you enrol with them by a certain date, they will ensure that you have somewhere to stay. Sometimes you’ll also have to pay your application, orientation or other fees before a cut-off date to remain eligible.

They’re definitely worth checking out. If you can’t see the university you want on the list below, give them a call or send an email and ask them if they offer an accommodation guarantee.


Uni accommodation options to explore include:


  • On campus accommodation (sometimes known as halls of residence)
  • University shared housing
  • Renting rooms or units within buildings specifically designed for students through leasing companies
  • Privately owned houses rented out to university students – usually a shared arrangement to spread the costs


Halls of Residence


Lots of the major universities offer Halls of Residence. These accommodation options are affiliated with or owned by institutions. They are either located on campus or close to it. You could rent a single bedroom and share facilities such as a kitchen, bathrooms etc.

However, there are also certain institutions that provide apartment-style rooms with private kitchens and bathrooms. The utilities like gas, water, and electricity are included in the fees. Students will also have free internet access in their rooms.

Applications for many are open now.


Specialist student accommodation companies


Residential colleges are not usually part of the university, but they work together to help students find accommodation that is near the uni and provides all the facilities you might need.

At a residential college, your rent could include:

  • Meals
  • Weekly room clean
  • Fully-furnished bedroom
  • Easy access to library facilities
  • Tutors and Wi-Fi

If this is an option, universities may list links to the external organisations on their accommodation webpage. If not, they’ll be able to send you the contact details if you make an enquiry.


Managed Student Apartments


Purpose built accommodation dedicated to the housing students.

You may be able to choose between single or twin rooms with a shared bathroom and kitchen. Sometimes dorm style rooms are even shared amongst 4 or 5 students. There are different options to explore to suit all budgets and preferences.


Managed student accommodation might offer:

  • All utilities including internet
  • Furnished rooms
  • 24-hour security and on-site staff support
  • Social events and activities
  • Communal laundries
  • Kitchen and bathrooms with major appliances provided
  • Air conditioning and heating
  • Study areas
  • Recreation areas e.g. cinema rooms, gyms, table tennis, television, BBQs, etc.


Popular websites for booking Managed Students Apartments in Australia:


Private Rentals


Private landlords lease accommodation to students. You can live with your friends or alone, according to your preference. These may be inexpensive options compared to other forms of accommodations, but the rent may not include all additional bills, e.g. electricity, gas, internet etc.

Sometimes you’ll find furnished rentals, but don’t assume houses will be furnished; you may need to provide your own. You’ll also need to pay a deposit, which is generally payment of rent in advance and a security payment (bond).

You can search for rentals online, but it could be safer to go through registered Real Estate agents in the area you’d like to live in.


Save money and live at home


If you aren’t keen on moving away from family, friends or your part time job, then there’s always the option of studying online or enrolling at a university near you. That way you can continue to live and contribute at home, while getting the qualifications you need to help your career goals.


Organise your Finances


You’ll need to work out how you’re going to pay for your accommodation – probably the next highest cost after your uni fees. Then you’ll be able to work out a budget for essential living – any bills, food, etc.

Once you know that, you’ll know what’s left over for having some fun.

Start by finding out all the costs of the accommodation options at the uni you’d like to enrol at, and work out approximate living costs for the area too.

What Centrelink allowances are you entitled to?


Some of the Centrlink services you may eligible for include:


Search for other rental assistant options


Are there any scholarships, bursaries or grants you can apply for that would help to cover your costs?

Here are a few examples of scholarships etc that are still open for applications:

If you need more options, try searching the Study Work Grow Scholarships Database for more ideas, call unis directly or search online.


A couple of other things to keep in mind


  1. Keep connected

Make sure wherever you go that you’ll have that all-important internet connection included and that it’s a decent connection – or you could struggle staying up to date with course work. Plus, it makes it hard staying in touch with friends and family. If possible, check if the phone signal is strong enough too.

  1. Location is important

When you’re searching for accommodation and focused on your budget, it’s easy to go for the cheapest option. But if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere you could be spending a fortune just getting to uni and back each day.

So before you sign on the dotted line, consider your accommodation’s convenience to uni, local shops, other facilities and of course the all-important social life.

  1. Security

It’s really important that you have somewhere to live where you feel safe, and it will help to ease your parents’ worries too.

Ask about on-site security systems, staffing and check hours of operation (24/7 would be best).

Read up about the local area and find out from discussion groups or the university themselves what the area you’re thinking of living in is like for safety.

  1. Find testimonials

If you’re going for a private rental, it might be hard to get testimonials about the landlord, safety, and the area, etc. For any other situation, check websites for reviews, ask in discussion groups or try to find past students who will be honest about their digs.

  1. Do some checks

If you’re not staying in Halls of Residence at the university itself, then check the background records of the company that you’ll be using. Check their company registration or ABN number is valid, make sure they’re well established and reputable businesses to be dealing with.

  1. What facilities are available

When you’re new to a uni, it might make things easier to settle in if there are communal areas where you can hang out and meet other students. If there are common rooms, movie rooms, or gyms for example, they might be worth considering.

You’ll also want to check out what the kitchen and bathroom arrangements are to see if they’ll suit you, and importantly when you’re not at home, if there is a laundry you can use that’s conveniently close to your room.


Get your applications in ASAP


You have a lot on your mind already, but perhaps you can enlist a parent, carer or sibling to help you do some groundwork, then get your applications in soonish.

The sooner you apply the more chances you’ll have of getting your top preferences and it’s one more think you can check off your list and stop stressing about.

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