Trust me-you'll remember your first flat for the rest of your life. Finally, after all those years, you'll have a space of your own. It's an exciting and liberating experience, and you'll learn a lot in the first few months.
But there are a few common pitfalls which might make you remember your first home for all the wrong reasons. So pay heed, fledgling home-makers, to the voice of experience and consider these tips for sharing a home for the first time.
Assembling the A-team
Choosing your flatmates is the first decision you'll have to make before looking for a place to call home. But choose wisely, because once the lease is signed there's no going back.
You might think choosing your best friends is a good idea, and this can sometimes work well. However, bear in mind that whoever you live with, you will end up hating something about them after a year of close-quarter encounters; sometimes it's helpful to have a best friend down the road to visit for a break from flat politics.
Agency or private landlord?
Renting from an agency is generally more expensive as they have more overheads. On the plus side, they will usually provide a better service when it comes to maintenance.
With a private landlord you're more likely to establish a friendly relationship and they can be more lenient than big businesses. But don't count on them to be there in your time of need.
The first thing you'll want to do when you move in is to make sure you're registered with all the necessary energy suppliers. It's only a quick phone call to set up an account, just shop around for the best deal to suit your needs, and make sure to note down any meter readings before you use any energy.
You'll also want to get an internet connection as soon as possible, as it may take a week or two for the service provider to send someone round to install it. Click here for info about Student Broadband.
If you decide that you want a landline and TV as well, many broadband providers offer good value package deals. But be warned-you may get a visit from TV licensing if you don't pay up before tuning in.
As a student you are exempt from paying council tax. However, it is your responsibility to inform the council of your student status. If you fail to do this, expect angry red letters arriving on your doorstep demanding money you don't have.
It's a good idea, especially in big house shares, to create a joint account to handle all shared costs such as rent, energy bills, broadband connection etc. You may also consider keeping a cash kitty for communal purchases such as loo roll, cleaning supplies and beer.
Most of all-just be considerate of your fellow housemates and you'll get along fine. Skid-marks will put you in the bad books just as much as obsessive cleaning regimes; do your best to find that happy medium.