There are many great things about living off-campus, but in this article, we won’t talk about any of them. Instead, here some extremely practical advice for anyone about to make the move away from the comforts of campus accommodation into the dreaded, much-anticipated world of student housing.
While the accommodation teams on campus were less strict about the condition you left your room in upon vacating, this sadly isn’t the case for private landlords who tend to be fussy over the smallest details.
As soon as you move in, thoroughly check the flat for any damage like leaks, marks on walls, things falling apart, and take photographs of it. This means that in a year’s time your landlord can’t refuse to give you back your deposit because of something that was already broken when you moved in. Also, never put BluTac on your walls. Just don’t do it. Ask your landlord in the beginning what sort of things will prevent you from getting your deposit back, and how you can avoid it.
Bringing chargers with you everywhere you go is absolutely essential
Moving off-campus means that you’ll probably need to commute when you want to get to campus. If you live in Leamington, give yourself about an hour each way to get there and back, Coventry will need around forty-five minutes.
Remember that you’ll need to bring everything that you need across the day in the morning. Don’t leave your POP! costume at home if your last Wednesday lecture finishes at 5 pm. Along with this, one of the most useful things to have as a second or third year is a friend who lives on campus whose room you can dump your laptop in while you party. Also, bringing chargers with you everywhere you go is absolutely essential, regardless of how good you think your battery is.
A bus pass can be useful, but because of Coronavirus, it’s unclear how much time students will actually be spending on campus, so wait until you have your timetable. If you’re getting the bus to campus five or six times per week it’s probably worth it, but less than that and you might be better off without one.
My biggest piece of advice is that if you’re late for something – get on any bus
General bus advice is to remember that the raised seats right at the front next to the driver on U1 buses often get ignored, drunk people particularly walk straight past them. If you’re cold, then the corner seats right at the back are sometimes slightly warmer because they’re underneath the engine, avoid them if you have motion sickness.
If all seats on the bus are full and you really want a seat, find someone who doesn’t look like a Warwick student and stand near them. Non-students are more likely to be getting off the bus at an earlier stop, and as soon as they stand up, you’re in the right place to take their seat.
My biggest piece of advice is that if you’re late for something – get on any bus. It doesn’t matter if you have a bus pass for a different kind of bus, a single ticket is only a couple of quid. You are actually paying for seminars and lectures, and if you do the maths, missing one is expensive.
Sorting out bills is annoying
Similarly, U1 buses are faster, but this is only relevant if a U1 actually turns up. Bus timetables are just computer-generated lies, and you can never fully trust them. Also, remember that trains exist. It’s obvious, but if you need to get from Leamington to Coventry or vice versa, the train is much quicker and easier than a bus.
If you still have time, sort out your bills yourself. Some housing companies will offer to do this for you in a package for a set amount each week. I wouldn’t advise taking on one of these deals. Sorting out bills is annoying, but if you take one of those agreements you can end up paying literally hundreds more than if you’d sorted it out yourself. These companies take advantage of the fact that students don’t know the market rates for electricity and water. Plus, most of those packages don’t even include internet, and so you’ll end up paying at least one bill separately anyway.
When it comes to gas and electricity bills specifically, it is sometimes cheaper overall to take a one-year contract than paying each month individually. If you’re on a contract the money will be taken out of your account automatically, so you’re also not at risk of forgetting about a payment. It’s very easy to switch, and you still only pay for what you use, a contract just means that you can’t switch to a different provider. If you really want to get a good deal, call up your gas company and ask how to save money, any employee will be happy to give you advice, plus many have information on their websites.
Another good way to save money is just making sure you always bring food to campus with you
If one of your flatmates has a car, schedule grocery shopping with them so that you don’t have to carry heavy bags home. Either way, find out where the big supermarkets are in relation to you early on, it’s easy to get into the habit of shopping at convenience stores but they’re almost always more expensive.
Another good way to save money is just making sure you always bring food to campus with you. Buy a lunch box and fill it with sandwiches or leftovers, or just bulk buy pot noodles and use the hot water tap in the library. Sometimes you might even need to bring more than one meal with you if you have a lot of club or society activities as well as lectures.
Don’t dress for the weather in the morning if you’re going to be on campus for a long time, especially during winter. Finally, always be super nice to your landlord, because you never know when something will need to be fixed.
Moving into off-campus accommodation can be a huge adjustment, especially after the comforts that come with living in the centre of the Warwick bubble. However, you’ll most certainly get used to it and with these tips, you’re bound to find the transition much easier.