How to choose the right uni house
orange and blue concrete painted house
Photo by Terrah Holly on Unsplash

How to choose the right uni house

Matthew McCulloch January 23, 2022

The prospect of choosing your house for second year is a daunting one. Choosing housemates, booking viewings, and making sure you’ve got a good landlord all come at you when you have only just settled into university life. It’s a new process for most students and one we all want to get right. Here are some ways to make the experience simpler and ensure you end up with the right house.


Choosing your housemates is the most important step of getting your first house. You want to make sure you are living with people you can get along with for the next year. These are normally people from your accommodation, friends you’ve made through your course, or people you have met through sports and societies. You usually want a group of five or six people, but anything from three to as many as ten people can work depending on the properties available in your area.


After deciding who you want to live with, and agreeing to look for a house, you need to decide your budget. It’s important to consider everyone has different amounts available to spend. While a luxury house may look appealing, it might not always be best for the budget.

If you’re getting financial help from your parents/carers, talk to them to see how much they are willing to give. There’s no point looking for houses you can’t afford! Also consider if you want to go for bills included or pay them separately yourselves. Bills included can save time and hassle. It also gives you a clear weekly amount but may be more expensive than doing them separately. It’s worth comparing and seeing what works best for you.

The Search

Once you know what size house you’re looking for and what your budget is, you are ready to start looking. Usually, property websites are the best place to start. Zoopla and Rightmove have plenty of student-friendly houses. Here you can filter the results by number of bedrooms, making sure you only see relevant houses.

When looking through listings, read the description. This often tells you whether the property accepts students, if they offer a bills-included package, and any other details about the house. Some listings may also have a floorplan, which can be helpful for working out, before a viewing, if the house is suitable. If you plan on splitting the rent equally, no one will want a box-room. So use the floorplan to spot these houses before you waste your time viewing.

House viewing

After you’ve found some houses that you think would work, you need to book viewings. It’s normally best to call the estate agent to arrange one. Student houses can go quickly, so you should ensure you’ve booked a slot. Make sure you book a few, as usually a couple will be taken by someone else before you get a chance to view.

On the day of the viewing, if allowed, take some pictures or a video of the house. This way, anyone that couldn’t attend the viewing can see it, while it allows you to compare with other properties afterwards. Also, while you’re at the viewing, if the tenants are in, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It can be well worth asking what the landlord is like in terms of repairs, what the neighbours are like, and any other questions you may have.

Signing the contract

Finally, once you’ve viewed a property you all like and want to get, it’s time to sign the contracts. This is different with every estate agent. But it will normally require a holding deposit to secure the house, before a series of forms for you and your guarantor – usually your parents – to sign to commit to the house.

If you’re unsure about any of the paperwork, speak to your parents or someone you know who has rented a property before to check it’s all standard. In some cases, your university will provide a service to look at contracts and check they are reasonable. Lastly, you will need to put down a deposit – often four weeks’ rent – and then the house is yours!

You can relax, knowing you’ve got the house you want for the next year.

Read next: How to decorate your university room

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Matthew is a Property Development and Planning MSc student at Nottingham Trent, having completed his Film and Television BA Hons at the University of Nottingham. His interests include architecture, film and all things related to the culture sector.