Money

Top tips for moving into a new home

Moving into private accommodation can be very tricky, particularly finding people to live with considering you’ll be with each other most of the time, sharing the same spaces. Here are a few tips when deciding where to live and things to do or keep in mind before making the decision. While many of them might seem like you’re looking too far ahead and they’re not things to think of now, trust me they’re very important! Small things from daily life, like (not) cleaning up after eating, can be what tires you the most when living with someone and may increasingly build up tension.

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  1. Reliability of landlord
    • If you’re moving into a house, the reliability of the landlord is very important; you want to make sure that if there are any problems they will make sure to repair them in a timely manner.
    • If possible, try and look for accommodation approved by Manchester Student Homes (or any other equivalent) and read as many reviews possible for the accommodation and the area.
  2. Area
    • Keep in mind that you need to be in a safe area. No matter how cheap something may be or how nice it may seem, if it’s down a dark alleyway or has very high crime rates, it’s best not to risk it.
    • If you’re more of a quiet person, stray away from the party-like areas otherwise you won’t be happy with the noise-levels of the neighbourhood.
    • Don’t forget to think about transport costs get familiar with walking routes, find out which buses go where and how much they cost/if they’re covered by your Stagecoach bus pass),.
  3. Bills included
    • Bills included can be a great way to manage your budget.. It’s easy to waste electricity without realising it and ending up with big bills, but more importantly, it’s just a hassle having to follow up to pay bills and splitting them each time. This gets even worse in situations where people might argue that someone uses up more electricity than someone else so they should pay more or less (respectively.) 
  4. UK guarantor needed
    • Before going to a house/accommodation viewing or getting attached to the idea of anything, make sure you’re familiar with all the requirements. Many private accommodation requires a UK guarantor. 
  5. People you’re living with
    • You need to make sure the person you’re living with is right. It needs to be someone you’re comfortable with, feel safe around, trust that they will not bring home strangers, someone who will also be responsible for keeping the house clean, paying bills, keeping up with rent payments etc.
    • Don’t confuse friendship with living with someone! While it might sound great and like a movie to live with your friends, it doesn’t mean it will be dream land. It’s okay to be best friends with someone and not think you’re suitable for living together the same way not all relationships would survive living together. giphy2
    • Ultimately, it’s better to have one uncomfortable conversation with a friend telling them you’d rather not live with them and save the friendship in the long term as opposed to living with them and getting into conflict so deep that your friendship isn’t as strong by the end of the year.
  6. Establish ground rules before getting tied down to a deposit
    • Are you okay with people having visitors? How many, for how long? Do you mind people of all genders staying with you?
    • Are you okay with house parties? When is quiet time on weekends and weeknights? giphy3
    • Is there any protocol for using common areas? Helpful rules might include cleaning up right after cooking or the latest by the next day etc.
  7. Talk about practicalities
    • Decide on things like who will do the grocery shopping, how often it will be, if you will split it each time or pay in turns, what you will be purchasing together and what will be bought individually. Also keep in mind things that need to be bought like kitchen paper, cleaning products etc. giphy4
    • Think of how chores will be divided and how frequently. For example, vacuuming, taking out the rubbish, cleaning the bathrooms etc. 

5 Relevant Points when Renting Privately

So, you’ve herded a flock your friends together long enough to finalise an ultimate clique, and with the end of the academic year just around the corner, September 2017, NASA confirms, is well within sight. And so the age-old ritual of booking, confirming and attending house-viewings has begun, but despite you and your clan’s best efforts, you have yet to commit to the one… House that is. Read on, disillusioned house (rent) hunters, for some goggling guidance and as always, a generous sprinkling of gifs, from me to you.

  1. Location, location, location

As Kirstie Allsopp preaches, it is indeed all about the location. Whether you consider yourself a Longsight local or a regular Rusholme-ian, where you decide to call home will really impact on your day to day life as a student. Most halls and private accommodation in Manchester can be grouped into being in the City, Victoria park or Fallowfield areas, and having experienced all three throughout my time at university, I can attest to their various strong points and drawbacks.

I loved the leafy green *weather permitting* hideaway that my first year halls in Victoria Park offered, and equally enjoyed my days as a Fallowfield-er, partaking in the traditions of the rush-hour bus commute and the consumption of all things Kebab King. But, I can’t think of a better place to be in my final year than Hulme, just a stone’s throw away from town and campus.

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Overtaking morning traffic on the brisk walk to uni

  1. State of Mind vs. State of Property

At first, it can be hard to adjust to the concept of living in a house that, let’s face it, might not exactly feel home-ey… There’s nothing like leaving the comfort of halls for a semidetached dwelling where the responsibilities of putting out bins and declaring yourself exempt from council tax loom large overhead. When on the lookout and browsing places, it’s important to consider them as bases, something temporary for the next 9 months, not a site candidate for grand designs. Use your discretion to be level-headed, is this a superficial crack in the paint or a sign of potentially dangerous damage to the structural integrity of the walls? Likewise, a set or two of fairy lights can truly work wonders on a beige bedroom, however, they definitely shouldn’t be employed as a mould-masking tool!

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When the search for the perfect abode ain’t going so well

3. Compromise

So, would you rather the extra cupboard space or a washer-dryer combo to go with those crumbly walls of yours? And what about another bathroom or maybe T.Vs in each of the bedrooms instead?

As a wise woman (Carrie Bradshaw) once said, all relationships are inevitably a series of compromises and this goes for student houses too. It’s important to discuss the compromises that will no doubt arise when choosing between properties and what they have to offer, and it’s probably a good idea to talk about this before even looking at any… What basic boxes do you all want checked off? Will one of you be happy to settle for the attic room? Would a 10 minute walk to the nearest bus stop be a problem or are you all avid cyclists anyway?

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Viewing a house that only has a couple of hydrangea bushes when the last one had a pond

4. Included or Excluded?

Bills… Would you like them to be included in or excluded from your monthly rent? Some landlords and letting agencies will simply dictate whether bills are included or not, others may give the option. ‘Bills included’ can often refer to just the basic utilities such as water, gas and electricity. However in some cases, this can also include wifi, a T.V license and even a weekly or bi-weekly cleaning service in the communal areas. In any case, it’s best to be clear with whoever you’re renting with what the arrangements are from the outset. Organising your own bills can have significant financial benefits, particularly if utilities are metered and you’re good at switching lights off and keeping the heating below ridiculous degrees Celsius. On the other hand, if the extra responsibility would be unwelcome and you’d rather not be hounding your housemates for that £7.12 they owe you each month, having your bills arranged is an equally valid option!

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‘But I swear I transferred you the money for the BT bill on Tuesday?’

5. Make the Most

Make the most of the opportunities at your disposal! We’re lucky at the University of Manchester to have a whole range of informative events and a supportive Union that offers a wealth of material and advice on housing, from finding a property to moving out. Accommodation fairs such as the one on the 25th of April at University Place are a great place to start and find your feet if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed!

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Don’t be shy, ask for advice – the more informed you are, the better!

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Very best of luck with all your house hunting endeavours, you can do it!

Making the most of Manchester… on a budget

By Mary Johnson

There have been times when I feel like I’ve single-handedly cured England of any hint of a recession from just one lone shopping spree. I won’t lie, I love to shop but what satisfies the itch of retail-therapy more than anything is a well found bargain.

Naturally as a student, I always have an eye out for discounts and I’m happy to share some of my golden rules and tips for life at the University right here…

  1. ‘It’s not a bargain if you don’t need it,’ is probably one of the most relevant phrases to keep in mind when you’ve got your hunting goggles on. It’s so easy to be blinded by a ‘great deal’! Do the odd catch-and-release exercise and you’ll realise you never really needed a multi-pack of low quality USB leads or that personalised cotton tote in the first place! If worse comes to worst, you can always return after the heat of that initial sighting and purchase on further reflection. I repeat, IF YOU DON’T NEED IT, PUT IT DOWN.
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  1. Don’t be fooled by the array of £1 shops, 3-for-2 or BOGOF (Buy-One-Get-One-Free) deals that Manchester has to offer. Admittedly, I have be known to get carried away in Poundland and later that day found the very same item at the likes of Lidl or Aldi for a considerably better price!
    Be wary of these places friends…

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When realisation hits

3. Try online! A word of warning, do some research before splashing your cash – or your bank card –  as you can often find what you need for much less on sites like Amazon and eBay. *Mini tip: Unless you absolutely need a completely clean copy to annotate, go for a second-hand version of the book! Those declared ‘Used – Like New’ often are ‘like new’ and a fraction of the price! Personally, I also really like the worn-in feel of an older copy!

Here are a few of my favourite deals and tips on and off campus:

On campus

As student loans land and the initial adrenaline and unattainable dreams of booking first-class trains everywhere take over, *adopts motherly tone* try and look ahead in the semester to budget your money rather than blowing your cash on an unnecessary luxury expense. Work out your monthly expenses to calculate what you’ll have left over to live on and you can plan ahead on treats like cinema trips, going out and holidays abroad!

Meat Free Mondays at the Students’ Union: all dishes without meat are half price at Union Bar every Monday! Such a fantastic deal – for both you and the environment! Give yourself plenty of time as it can get pretty busy… I really recommend the goat’s cheese pizza.

Brodericks £1 drinks in the Library and Learning Commons (and possibly dotted around elsewhere). A sweet dessert to compliment your veggie lunch earlier on in the week, go on you can afford it. #treatyoself

Prepare a packed lunch! Try and plan your shopping; buy in bulk and save yourself a fortune instead of eating out. I can’t stress how much a good lunch-making habit will save you in the long run. – A lot!

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When you’re allergic to seafood but really want in on the sushi trend.

Speaking of running…

Sporticipate! These are literally free exercise classes organised for students by the University. The Sugden Sports Centre also offers a great 9-month student membership for only £120! This may sound like a lot of money to part with in one go, but I’ve done the math and if you go regularly it really works out (pun intended)!

Off campus

Get a part-time job! (This is a bit of a joint one as there are some great jobs going on campus too!) Aside from the obvious financial benefits, balancing a job alongside your studies is a great demonstration of independence, personal time management and teamwork skills. A job can mean meeting a whole new circle of friends outside your academic discipline and a healthy change of scene every so often. Not to mention, it’s one form of procrastination you won’t feel guilty about because you’ll be earning.

Loyalty cards – if you don’t have a Boots card, get one! You can thank me later! Paperchase have also started a fantastic deal for their members, which I’m very excited about – FREE coffee every week from their cafe on the top floor. (This is not a drill people!)

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Caffeine dependency level: Lorelai Gilmore

Charity shops! I don’t mean the ‘cool’ overpriced ones, we’re talking Oxfam, Red Cross and Cancer Research (the Holy Trinity)… It is so worth inhaling those funky steam-cleaned ‘thrift store’ odours to find genuinely high quality clothes at ridiculously low prices!

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Me when I first laid eyes on the 100% wool coat I snagged from Red Cross for £12

Happy hunting friends!

The most important day in January…

… The rules of being savvy with your student loan

There is one day in January that all students look forward to- that much anticipated, beautiful day. And no I’m not talking about the end of exams, this is much much better. On the 18th of January 2016, Student Finance delivered all students with the best welcome back to Uni present… Their student loan.

Suddenly having enough money to book a five-star holiday to the Maldives can be a bit overwhelming BUT I have concocted these simple rules to ensure my student loan is spent on food and living instead of something unforgiving!

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Work, Work, Beer, Work

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As my title might suggest, I’ve been busy getting stuck into 4th year work and also rather a lot of beer. Not in the way you might be expecting though! Last week was the annual summer beer festival at the pub where I work, The Old Hall Inn in Chinley, near to where I live. It was a packed weekend, full of locals as well as ale drinkers from up and down the country (there was even a train put on especially from Manchester to Chinley) it was mad! We had over 200 real ales and ciders on offer (and from reading Matt’s blog posts it sounds like it’d be right up his street) and as usual, it was a massive success! I’ve literally never been so busy in my life, but we got lots of comments about how hard working and friendly all the staff were which was wonderful! Having a part time job whilst at uni can be a useful source of extra income, it’s just about balancing time between work and studying. The University has a really good careers service which can help not just with graduate jobs but part time jobs and volunteering opportunities for current students too.

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