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Moving from home for the first time (for many) is one of the most exciting things about starting your tertiary education. This is a big step because you get to study and live independently, I mean you can eat ice cream for breakfast and have pizza for dinner for a week straight without your parent's disapproving looks. A lot of "adulting" comes into play though and one of the first big choices you often need to make is choosing good student accommodation. Now, this is an important task because the accommodation one chooses can play an integral role in a student’s academic and social life success. When starting the process there are different options and factors to consider.

The first option is the institution's (on and off-campus) residences. Most tertiary institutions have residences for students, however because the volume of students enrolled generally exceeds the capacity of the residences, spots are limited. There are also different criteria a student must meet (depending on the institution) to get placement in a residence, for example - good academic results. Some residences will also offer catering (perfect if the only thing you can cook is an egg) whilst some won't. The residences are often located close to campus so they minimise travel cost and expense. You should have an inbuilt student community here where you can make new friends - trust me this is important especially if you're in a new city because you get to build an instant support structure and you learn the ropes of living away from home together. When I look back at my experience, I definitely regret not choosing accommodation with a student community. Maneuvering a new city and campus was the hardest at the beginning because I was experiencing everything for the first time alone, which can make you homesick. Being around peers who are in the same boat as you can be vital especially for those who are still learning to be independent. This also means you have people to study and party with!

The second option is private student accommodation. This can vary from renting an apartment with a "roomie" to renting a room in a student "digs". Now, a lot more comes into play when choosing private student accommodation because there are various factors to consider:

  1. Budget - one of the first things you will have to do before looking for a place is to set up your budget. A luxury apartment with views would be nice but considering what is financially suitable for you will help you narrow down your options.
  2. Location - when looking for student accommodation you must search for a place that limits the costs of travelling to campus every day. Students have busy schedules; you want to be able to have the flexibility of travelling back to your accommodation between classes and going to the library at any hour of the day and feel safe.
  3. Security – it is important to research the safety measures your accommodation has in place to ensure you choose a safe and conducive environment to live and study in.
  4. Shops and amenities – having shops near to where you live means you save money on travelling for necessities such as food and study supplies. Take a look at the facilities (ie. laundry) an accommodation has to offer because as a student, convenience is key.
  5. Student community – choosing accommodation with a student culture where you can socialize with other students and participate in programs is always a perk because at the end of the day, it is also about the full experience!

Where to look for private student accommodation?

Here are some places you can look for a student accommodation:

South Point – is a company that has locations around the country. All their student campuses are located within a close distance to universities. They also provide a student community through events.

Digsconnect – is an online platform that helps students find  accommodation close to their institutions. There are different accommodation options so you can search according to your preference whether that is an apartment, student house or a room.

The third option is a good old Google search, as landlords and agents advertise private student accommodation on different platforms. I do have to warn you to be careful with this one though. When I was about to start my first year, I almost paid a deposit for an apartment that did not exist because I was desperate to secure a place. So please learn from my mistakes and do your research! There are scammers out there who take advantage of desperate students by advertising bogus accommodation.

What is the cost of  student accommodation?

The cost of student accommodation differs depending on where the accommodation and the institution are located as prices vary throughout the country. A factor to consider when looking at the costs is the room arrangements, some accommodation offer shared rooms and facilities which inherently reduces the cost. Other places are pricey because of the all-inclusive high-end facilities such as gym, clubhouse, game rooms which up the price. Some accommodation can also include WIFI, electricity and water in the costs and others can separate the payments.