Expert chat: Moving out to university

Expert David from City UniversityDavid from student services at City University answers your questions about moving out to university. Have a read for his tips on how to find a place, what to look for when viewing a property, how to cope with feeling homesick and how to deal with difficult housemates.

Josh: When you want to move out, how do you go about doing it?

David: It really depends on why you're moving out, what you're looking for, that sort of thing. Do you have a situation in mind? What's your current living situation?

Josh: I'm at a stage where I want to move out, be away from family and have a completely fresh start. Obviously I know I have to wait until I have enough money, but from there I wouldn't know where to go or even where to start looking or what I was looking for

David: Having an idea of your budget is always a great start. You'll need some money to get started in the rental market. You'll need a deposit. A lot of estate agents charge fees. Where to start looking depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for a house share or a flat share there are various websites that specialise in it.

Josh: okay, thanks!

David: If you want to live alone in a flat, then again websites or letting agents are a good place to start. So for instance, there's spareroom or easyroommate. Other sites like zoopla or rightmove do rentals too. But don't take somewhere just from an internet search. Get out and look at the property. Look at the area the property is in. And if you're thinking of living in a flatshare, meet the housemates and see if you like them! Finally, if you're moving out to university, your students' union or university will have an accommodation office, which will have details of houses available.

Matt: When viewing properties from private landlords for the first time, what should I be looking out for? I'm going into my 2nd year of uni, and I've heard there are quite a few dodgy ones about...

David: You need to start with the basic stuff. Look at the walls and the ceilings, are they damp? Is there mould? And look at the surrounding area too. Do you feel safe? Does it look safe? If you like the area and like the property, make sure there are gas and electrical safety certificates. You might also want to look at the energy efficiency of the house - big, shared houses (called 'houses in multiple occupation') usually need to have an energy efficiency certificate. Some universities do have an accreditation scheme and some students' unions even run their own lettings agency.

Jen: I know my uni has a list of recommended landlords as a starting point, yours might too?

James: We've also got an article on things you should check before you rent a place that might be helpful.

Matt: Thanks guys. What if he promises to fix it up when we sign the contracts - but hasn't done by the time we arrive?

David: A tenancy agreement can be made verbally as well as in writing, so legally he should carry out any improvement work. But the problem is proving he said that he would do it. I would always advise you to get these promises in writing. If the landlord doesn't do the work, you have it in writing if you need to take further action against him. Remember that agreements can be made verbally when you make promises to the landlord, too. If you say you'll take the place then legally you might have agreed a tenancy agreement.

Matt: I didn't realise that. Thanks!

Anna: How do you cope with being homesick when you do eventually leave home? I'll be moving out to university next year.

David: Good question Anna. Everyone will feel homesickness in different ways, but having company and keeping busy is often the best way. When you're at uni remember everyone is in the same boat. You're not alone and you're not the only one missing home.

Anna: Ah yeah, never thought about that.

David: Your students' union will have more clubs and societies than you can shake a stick at. Get out to the social events and get talking to people. You may well feel that you want to come home after a fortnight. That's ok, a lot of people feel the same, but try not to go home every weekend, as you'll not get comfortable with your new place. But that doesn't mean never go home or never ring home! Be gentle on yourself, take time to adjust.

James: Anna, we've got an article on feeling lonely that has some more great advice for meeting people and getting involved with things.

Chrissy: Some housemates can be really inconsiderate when it comes to cleaning up after themselves. How do you approach the situation without utensils flying about the kitchen?

David: Great question! Firstly, it's really important to choose your housemates carefully. If their room in halls looks like a pig sty, don't expect them to be any different in a shared house. If you can, look how they live now! But if it's too late for that, it's usually best to bring things up sooner rather than later. If you let it go on too long, you'll just lose your temper and that won't do anyone any good. Try and have a quiet word with them in private. Don't have a "house meeting" and try really hard not to gang up on them.

Chrissy: Ah, that's good advice. Some friends of mine used a chores rota. Is that a good idea?

David: You might want to think about a rota, but be careful as these sometimes cause more arguments than they solve. If they're using your pots and pans and not washing them, you might have to be drastic and keep them in your room for a bit. At least then you know they'll be clean when you come to cook your dinner. But really it's about communication. Different people have different ideas on cleanliness. You might have to compromise too. Explain what you consider "clean" to be, get them to explain what they consider it to be, and try and meet somewhere in the middle. You probably think they're a slob, they probably think you're too fussy!

James: We've got an article on housemates who won't clean that has some extra useful advice.

David: Thanks for you questions everyone, I hope that's been useful.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015