This term many students will be starting to think about accommodation for next year. If you're one of them, you need to think carefully when deciding where to live and who to live with. Here are some tips on how to find a good houseshare and how to avoid some common problems with student digs.
Perhaps the most important issue is picking your housemates. If you find out that they're messy, moody, irresponsible or selfish, you'll probably be stuck with them for the whole year. It may sound like an obvious one, but the same person who's brilliant company in dull lectures might not be the best person to live with.
If they help themselves to your drinks at pre-drinks, imagine what they'll be like when you're sharing a fridge. When the end of your student loan is stretched to its maximum there can be some seriously heated arguments about who's been eating your cheese. Though it may feel like it at the time, missing cheese isn't worth losing friends over, so choosing your housemates carefully (and maybe not living with your messy best mate) is key.
Housemates that come in pairs can be just as bad, if not worse. Think carefully before deciding to live with couples. Of course, not all couples are bad to live with, but if your friends are advising you against it there may be a reason why.
Kea Barlow, a criminology student at the University of Greenwich, lived with a couple and says: "It was a bit of a rollercoaster, one minute they were all over each other in the living room, then they'd be screaming at each other down the hall.
"It was really uncomfortable to live with. It makes you feel awkward in your own home." Couples can be a serious challenge to live with and you may need to tread carefully.
Using an agency takes a lot of the hassle out of house hunting, and they'll be used to dealing with students. Your university will probably have a list of agents that they know and trust. If not, you can ask people in a similar situation to you – or even better, those who have been living in the area for a while.
Matthew Winney, an English student at the University of Leicester, says: "When we were looking for a house we accidentally used a black-listed letting agent who showed us around a seven bedroom flat above a Polish supermarket." Needless to say, he didn't take the house.
It's tempting to choose the biggest and best house or flat you can find, but often you'll sacrifice a good location for the sake of a bit of extra space. And don't forget that in cold weather you'll have to heat the whole place.
But remember, if you're looking at six or eight bedroom houses you'll need to start looking early to make sure you don't end up miles away from civilisation.
A forty minute walk from the library might sound doable during your Wednesday afternoon house viewing, but first thing on a Monday morning, in the rain, you might not be so keen to go to your lectures.
There are usually student-orientated residential areas in most university cities, try to stick to these. There's a reason they're so popular, they're generally quite safe, and there's usually a good pub or two nearby.