This article is sponsored by Sulets
Now that you know you will be studying at De Montfort University (DMU) it is time to start thinking about your accommodation.
Whether it is your first time living alone or not, moving in can be quite overwhelming. So, we contacted two second year DMU students to hear about their experience and spoke to our Advice and Wellbeing Team to get you some general pointers.
Both students were new to the city when they first joined DMU and found that moving away from home brought many challenges, but even more learning opportunities. The two had very distinct living situations in their first year. Julka Wójcik, an International Marketing and Business student, originally from Poland, moved in to a private flat that they shared with four other students. Contrastingly, Shaikha Rahimi, a Bahraini Journalism and International Relations student, opted for a studio flat at a student accommodation.
Now, first things first, how do you find a place?
There are different ways for you to find what you want for your living space - many students find their accommodation through the University, others opt for forums such as Facebook groups - Julka, for example, found her flat through a Facebook group for Polish students in Leicester.
Shaikha pointed out that a crucial factor in her choice was how close her accommodation was to campus. Julka agreed and added that for her it was also important that the flat was close to the city centre, which can be more convenient if you are considering getting a part-time job.
Furthermore, Shaikha said “as someone who likes the gym, it was important for me to have one on site.”
“Plus, having someone always at the reception of my accommodation was a big thing for me because it made me feel supported and secured,” she added.
Friendship is friendship, business is business
Moving in with other people can be challenging whether you met them before or not.
“I knew I wanted flatmates because I wanted to meet people,” said Julka.
“It was alright, sometimes it could get quite noisy, and we were always arguing about chores as there were so many of us. But you would always have someone to talk to if you needed and someone to rely on in case something went wrong,” she added.
“So, even though it was not always smooth-sailing, I think it was a great learning experience. It was risky, but those people turned out to be my best friends.”
If that is not the case for you, do not feel pressured to be friends with the people you will be living with!
It’s normal that people sometimes don’t get along. So, it's great if you do end up making friends, but if that doesn’t happen don't beat yourself up. Likewise, the fact that you are friends with someone doesn’t always mean you will be good flatmates, so give it a bit of thought before making any decisions.
The other end of the spectrum...
Contrary to Julka, Shaikha rented a studio flat, which meant she did not have any flatmates.
“I was lucky enough to get a studio, so there was very limited frustration being just me organizing and deciding where everything went,” said Shaikha.
“It would get lonely often and it felt really strange being in an empty flat, so I wanted to quickly make it feel like home. To do this, I got a rug and a couple of plants – now my flat is like a forest!”
“Sometimes it still gets lonely, but I started to appreciate it more because I would rarely get alone time back home. I found that spending some time with just me has been very advantageous because is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about myself and grow from it. However, it can be bittersweet.”
So many new things at once can be overwhelming!
Between getting your head around everything and effectively organising your time, things can get quite overwhelming!
But the good news is that throughout your first year you will get better and better at it, and both Julka and Shaikha have tips for you.
Shaikha pointed out that it is very important to keep on top of things because “if you don’t do it, nobody else will.”
“It is really easy for student flats to get messy, and I noticed it affected my mood a lot,” said Shaikha.
“Then, I learnt I am a huge nit-picker about my living space! I was sweeping the floor twice a day and it ended up being very time-consuming. So, I now designate one day of the week to clean the flat.”
For Julka, the most overwhelming part of the whole experience was the paperwork.
“There were so many things to take care of I had no idea about! So, it is important not to panic. I got through it all because of my to-do lists - help you keep track of what you have to do, and you can organise everything and get through it at your own pace.”
To you, from the Advice team
The DSU (De Montfort Students Union) Advice and Wellbeing Team is here to give DMU students free, impartial, and confidential advice regarding student wellbeing. So, naturally we wanted to hear what they had to say about student housing, especially to students moving away from home for the first time.
Sharon Kerry, one of our Student Advisers, stressed the importance of checking the accommodation you will be moving into and, if possible, booking a visit to the flat.
Then, much like Julka noticed, there are a lot of things involved in renting a flat, and some may feel quite daunting for being so new.
So, Sharon recommended that you "check the terms and conditions of the Tenancy Agreement. The DSU Advice and Wellbeing Team offer the service to explain any issues that may arise before signing to enrolled DMU students.
“It is important to remember that a Tenancy/License Agreement is a legal and binding contract that students cannot leave without penalties.”
Also, as both students found, the number of things one needs to have on a day-to-day/housekeeping basis, was at the very least surprising. So, Sharon advises that you make a shopping list of the essentials – pots, pans, cutlery, and bedding (with an extra set of pillowcases and sheets) - to help you keep track of what you need.
Another aspect of moving out is having to manage your time and money. Our Student Advisers said there are many shops and supermarkets around the city centre that do student discounts, which can be an effective way to save money. Moreover, a useful tool to help you keep on track is budgeting - producing a rough monthly or weekly plan of your spending can be helpful.
Lastly, Sharon reminded that often students feel homesick in the first few months, especially in first year. So, if you have the chance to go home to recharge your batteries, it is useful to keep funds available for that – your “future you” will appreciate it.
Hopefully, this gave you a clearer idea of what you need to be looking out for but also, got you even more excited to start this new adventure!
Learn what other tips our Advice & Wellbeing Team has for you.
If you need any kind of support, email our Advice and Wellbeing Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0116 255 5576 to book an appointment. The Advice and Wellbeing Team can only offer support to current DMU students.
Sponsored by Sulets:
Sulets are a not for profit, charitable trust. De Montfort Students' Union is one of our founding members. Our mission is to provide better student accommodation at a fair price. Finding accommodation that is right for you is an important part of your university experience, we are here to help you with that choice. Visit the Sulets website here.
If you would like to book a viewing for a studio, apartments or a house please contact us by email or call 0116 467 0315. You can also come and see us at our lettings shop in Students' Union Building in the Campus Centre next to Subway.
Phone: 0116 467 0315