The final exams are dominating the thoughts of matric students right now and that makes it difficult for them think about next year’s varsity accommodation. But that’s exactly what they should be doing according to Gumtree SA’s Estelle Nagel.

Nagel believes this is especially important information for matrics heading to university in 2020 because “current varsity students know the market dynamics better and tend to get themselves sorted out with the best properties while the first-timers are often caught unaware.”

She says there are thousands of rentals on offer on Gumtree SA alone specifically targeted at students, but many of the best ones will be gone before October; “choices will be much more limited and, most likely, more expensive if you’re scrambling in December or January”.

Nagel advises 2019 matrics, and their parents who usually pay for the accommodation, to do some proper research and to follow this checklist.

  1. TAKE ADVICE. Talk to anyone who has been in the same market and find out the wrinkles and the traps to avoid. Get a good read on average rental prices in the areas around your university.
  2. THINK TRANSPORT. Will the student have a car? If so, will secure parking be an issue. If not, how will they get to campus? Is there a free bus service and does it stop near the accommodation?  Factor daily travel expenses into your cost calculations.
  3. BE AWARE OF EXTRAS. Clearly understand whether additional payments like security, wi-fi and electricity, plus, if relevant, garden services & pool maintenance, are included in the rental.
  4. DIFFERENT STROKES. The number of people in the digs matters. Some students thrive in big, noisy, social environments. Others find it hard to study in those spaces and might struggle with their degree as a result. But a small number of tenants can bring its own tensions and pressures. Find the right space for you.
  5. WORK TOGETHER. Ideally, you’re hunting for accommodation with at least two others so you can take a complete property. You might need to be flexible and add or drop people from the group depending on what’s available. Understand that, usually, one person will have to take overall responsibility for the lease.
  6. THE RIGHT LANDLORD. It’s best to be in accommodation specifically marketed for students because the landlord will be attuned to the lifestyle and the issues that arise. If you’re renting a more general use property then either make sure the landlord knows you are students or make sure you have a quiet year!
  7. KEEP PERSPECTIVE. Some parents forget these are student digs and apply exaggerated standards to accommodation (or are seeking their own peace of mind rather than what will be good enough for a student) and might overpay as a result.
  8. DON’T PANIC. If you can’t find anything immediately, gaps usually do appear later on. Plans change and students go elsewhere or find other accommodation. Get connected on social media groups to learn about spare rooms and use Gumtree alerts for new rental listings that might come up. 
  9. SAFETY TIP: Never hand over a deposit until you’ve viewed the place in person.

If you are unsure about the legitimacy of the rental, email for advice.

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