Tag Archives: bills

Advice for Living in Student Accommodation

Communal living roomThis month’s blogpost is provided by Sophie Barber from Beaumont House, who provide student accommodation in West London for all UK and International students. Their accommodation is an inclusive, calm and supportive environment, ideal for postgraduate and international students.

Finding student accommodation can be a difficult task, especially if you are an international student coming to the UK for the first time. At first, it can seem as though all of your energy is spent on finding the perfect place to live! Then, it’s a big relief when you finally find somewhere.

However, during the busy period of finding somewhere to live, we sometimes forget that we will actually be living here! Whether you are studying in the UK for one term, three years or even more, it’s important to get some advice on living with other students. We’ve outlined some top tips below so that you can make the most out of living in the UK.

Socialise with your housemates

How you start your life at university tends to be how it will continue. In those first few days in your new room, flat or house, you will have plenty of opportunities to socialise with your housemates and get to know them. Everyone will be in the same boat as you, so there’s no need to be nervous.

You can start by getting a takeaway meal together, or playing some board games as a house. After a few weeks, you will probably find that you have already made great friends in your housemates!

Create a jobs rota

University accommodation can get messy – that’s just a fact. However, there are ways to prevent things from getting too out of hand! It’s a good idea to make a cleaning or jobs rota with your housemates. That way, everyone plays a role in looking after your accommodation and keeping things tidy.

The jobs might include taking the bins out, hoovering or keeping the kitchen tidy. However you decide to do it, make sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities and stays on top of things.

Work out a way to split bills

Although some student accommodation comes with bills included, there may be things that you need to work out with your housemates. These can include gas and electricity, the internet, your TV licence and water. There are a number of apps which allow you to split the costs between you, or you could set up a monthly bank transfer to whoever is paying.

Even if your bills are included, you will still need to consider shared household items such as toilet roll, washing-up liquid and soap. You can create a communal money pot for these items, or make sure that there is a fair rota for who buys them.

Set boundaries

While socialising with the other students in your accommodation is great, it’s also important to have your own boundaries, particularly if you have a heavy workload. If you’re stressed or just want some alone time, let your housemates know that you won’t be around as much.

This also works both ways, so if you can tell that one of your housemates needs to get their head down and do some work, try to let them get on with it.

Communicate

If you begin to get frustrated with one of the people you are living with, it is important to approach the situation in a mature way. There is no point harbouring grudges or talking behind their back as nothing will get solved this way.

The best approach is to address them about the issue in a calm and polite way. If you can communicate with your housemates, it helps any problems get solved a lot easier.

Be supportive

The final thing to remember about living in student accommodation is to be supportive of your housemates. University can get stressful and there may be times when they need a shoulder to cry on.

If one of your housemates comes to you with a problem, help them to find a solution or at least listen to them talk about it. Then, if you are ever having a difficult time in the future, you can rely on them to be there for you.

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A student’s guide to bills in the UK

Infographic on student billsThis month’s guest blogpost is provided by Emma Croke from comparison website GoCompare:

Moving away from home can be daunting, especially when you have never had to deal with paying bills in the UK before. This can be even more so if you are moving to Britain as an international student and everything is unfamiliar. Luckily, GoCompare has put together a handy guide to the bills you will need to pay as a student in the UK. If you are living in student accommodation, you will likely be given a total cost for the annual rent, and some of your bills, such as water and energy, may be covered. However, if you are moving to private accommodation, you will have to organise and pay your bills yourself. This infographic contains a handy list of essential and not-so-essential bills that you will need to consider, and we have some further tips about key areas to look at:

Bank accounts

If you are staying in the UK for longer than a term, then you should set up a UK bank account to allow you to pay bills, transfer money and keep track of spending. There are a variety of student bank accounts available which may offer benefits over a standard current account, and some are specifically aimed at international students.

Mobile phones

Research whether your phone will work in the UK, and if so, how much it will cost to use. If you are not sure the you can look at what mobile phone deals are available.

Budgeting

It is important that you do not fall into debt while at university, so ensure that your incomings cover your outgoings. Also, if you are living in shared accommodation, try to talk to your flatmates or housemates about bills fairly early on. Decide who is going to be responsible for ensuring the bills are all paid on time, and how much each person owes. It is also worth setting a deadline for transferring your contribution several days before the date the bills have to be paid, in case of any payment delays.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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How can I connect to the Internet in the UK?

Students using mobile broadband

This month’s guest blog post describes the different internet connection options available to students in the UK, and is provided by Broadband Genie:

Broadband is an essential utility for today’s students, but finding a broadband service that’s affordable and flexible enough to suit student life can be a challenge. So what do you need to know, and what are your options?

Broadband contracts and student living

A common problem faced by students is that the majority of broadband packages require you to sign a lengthy contract of 12, 18 or 24 months. This is problematic if you’re only living in a place for a short period of time or aren’t certain about your immediate future. Ending a contract early incurs a cancellation fee and that’s an additional expense that most students would prefer to avoid.

One alternative is a short-term contract. While not commonplace, there are several ISPs (Internet Service Providers) – such as NOWTV, TenTel and DST – that offer broadband on 1-month, 3-month and 6-month agreements. This provides more flexibility as you can cancel at short notice without facing extra charges.

However, there are some disadvantages. These short-term packages tend to be more expensive than the long-term deals, both in terms of the running costs and the upfront fees. You will most likely need to pay a setup charge (often included for other packages) and may have to pay for the Wi-Fi router too. There’s far less choice as well, with just a handful of ISPs offering short-term deals.

Another option is a student broadband deal. These are packages offered by a few ISPs (notably Sky, Virgin Media and BT) which are explicitly aimed at student users. The key difference with these deals is they come on a 9-month contract to fit with term times. They are only available at certain times of the year, but are worth considering if you see them as they can be good value and may help to avoid a cancellation charge.

If you do have to go with a regular 12, 18 or 24 month contract, make sure you’re aware of the ISP’s cancellation policy and what it might cost to end it early before signing up.

Which type of broadband is best for students?

There are various types of broadband available around the UK. What are the differences, and which is best for your student home?

ADSL

ADSL broadband using the BT telephone network is the most widespread and cheapest fixed-line service. It’s available to the vast majority of premises and can be available for under £20 per month.

ADSL has a maximum download speed of 17Mb and an upload speed of just 1Mb, which is significantly worse than the alternatives. It’s sufficient for one person or a small group of budget-conscious users, but sharing ADSL in a busy student home can be tedious as it can quickly slow to a crawl.

Pros:  • Cheap   • Available to almost every home   • Wide choice of ISPs
Cons:  • Slow by modern standards   • Needs a phone line

BT fibre

Fibre optic broadband from the BT network is a vast improvement on ADSL. Download speeds reach 38Mb, 52Mb or 76Mb, and upload up to 20Mb is available. That makes it more suitable for handling multiple users.

It is, however, slightly more expensive, and is not as widely available. Just over 80% of properties do now have access to these services. While the service does run on the BT Openreach network, it is available from a wide range of ISPs just like ADSL, so there is plenty of choice when it comes to finding a package at the right price.

Pros:  • Fast   • Good choice of ISPs and deals
Cons:  • Availability is still limited compared to ADSL   • Needs a phone line

Virgin Media

Virgin Media operates its own fibre optic network and has the fastest speed of any nationwide ISP, with a maximum download rate up to 200Mb. That’s very helpful if you have lots of housemates and are concerned about performance.

Pros:  • Very fast   • Doesn’t need a phone line
Cons:  • Must be in a Virgin network area   • Virgin is the only ISP

Fibre To The Home (FTTH)

Some lucky students may have access to next generation ‘FTTH’ services. This is a full-fibre connection which can deliver incredible speeds of up to 1Gb, and does not require a phone line. This is only currently available in a few areas, but it’s something that will likely become more widespread in the not-too-distant future.

Pros:  • Incredibly fast   • No phone line required   • Surprisingly affordable
Cons:  • Very limited availability

Mobile broadband

Getting your broadband from a mobile network is an alternative to fixed-line services because it is very flexible in comparison. Contract lengths are less critical as the connection is not for a specific location – if you move home the broadband comes with you and there are no fees to worry about. There is also the choice of long-term contracts, rolling monthly contracts, SIM-only deals and pay-as-you-go.

Provided you can get 4G, mobile broadband performance is now very good. Speeds can outclass ADSL and even approach entry-level fibre optic home broadband. The connection is less impressive on 3G, but still capable of handling most of what the average user will need.

The biggest drawback is the limited data cap. No provider currently offers unlimited mobile broadband, so you’ll need to be very careful about usage to avoid extra charges or service limitations.

Pros:  • Flexible and portable   • Variety of contracts   • 4G speed can be excellent
Cons:  • Performance relies on a strong signal (You can check coverage using the Ofcom app)   • Low data usage limits

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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