Go Higher: Counting the cost of a room

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Indy Lifestyle Online
PAYING FOR the roof over your head will be your biggest outlay.

When choosing your university or college remember that the cost and availability of accommodation is a major consideration.

If you choose London you need to budget for spending more on your student digs as well as possible transport costs to get you around town.

The cost of living is lower outside London. A recent survey showed rents near Kings College, London, were pounds 55-per-week while students at the University of Teeside could get digs for pounds 26.50-per-week.

Check the details when you get the university prospectuses and also have a good look around if you visit the campus for an interview.

If there are different blocks of accommodation on campus ask other students for advice on which are considered best. Some might be in better condition or in a better location than others.

Most students suggest trying to live on campus in the first year as it means you can't help but make friends with your neighbours, and saves you the hassle of finding a home as soon as you reach the university.

A study by the National Union of Students in 1997 found that the average cost of university or college accommodation was pounds 48.37 per week, with private accommodation being slightly cheaper at pounds 40.12.

The study also revealed that a student living in institutional accommodation in receipt of a student loan will, on average, spend 63 per cent of his/her income on rent.

If you don't get a room on campus and need to rent digs in town then the Law Society says it is important to enter into a proper legal tenancy.

The tenancy agreement is there to protect both the tenant and the landlord, laying down the rules that both must observe during the tenancy.

Make sure the agreement is in writing as it will be much harder to prove your basic rights as a tenant without it, if things get nasty.

Also ensure that the agreement covers all the basics, such as:

Your rent, some landlords charge rent "inclusive" of the cost of gas and electricity (but not the phone bill). Check what is covered and what is not. Also agree how and when the rent should be paid.

Does your landlord want a deposit and is it refundable? Where is it going to be kept while you are a tenant. Remember most landlords ask for rent a month in advance and for a month's rent as a deposit. This means you have to find two months' rent - often more than pounds 500 before you get over the doorstep.

Get a receipt for any money paid to the landlord, a rent book from the local stationery shop might prove a good investment.

Try to ensure that the bills are in joint names and are a shared responsibility. You don't want to end up with a phone bill in your name for all your flatmates' calls.

Your rent will be the largest chunk of money coming out of your budget, so never sign up for a property outside your means.

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