Growing up, my dad could always be found tinkering with something in the house. Whether it be putting up a shelf, changing a light bulb, fixing the washing machine or mowing the lawn. As I got older my dad was keen to get me involved in doing lots of these things with him. ‘You’ll need to know these things when you move out’ was his favourite thing to say. At the time changing a fuse in a plug or reading the gas meter was not my idea of fun and I would much rather be sat on my laptop or watching TV. However I have now got to admit that he was right and thank him so much for showing me many life skills.
When I was 18 I moved from London to Nottingham to go to University. In my second year it was time to move into a student house. A house full of 6 of my best girlfriends was fantastic and moving in the focus was in girly nights in and big nights out. However after only 2 days of being in my student house in Nottingham, the things my dad had taught me came into use. It was the first Friday night and we were all getting ready for a night out in town. There was music playing and hair dryers blowing when all of a sudden it all went quiet. The power had gone. My fellow house mates started to panic. ‘We should phone the landlord’, ‘I’ll phone my mum’ and ‘I need to straighten my hair!’ were the calls of my housemates. However I knew that the most likely cause would be that the power had tripped. On the first day in the house my dad had shown me where the fuse box was and explained what to do if the power tripped. Using the light from my mobile phone, I searched under the stairs and found the fuse box and flicked on the switch which bought the power back on upstairs. Everyone was surprised I knew what to do, and I wouldn’t have either if I had not been taught. I don’t think the landlord of our student house would have been impressed to be called out on a Friday night to flick a switch.
From that day on whenever there was a problem I was the first port of call. From reading the gas meter, changing light bulbs, working the lawnmower to unblocking a plug hole full of hair – eurgh – I am the houses resident DIYer. These skills may not sound that difficult, but I was surprised how my housemates didn’t know how to do some of these simple everyday tasks.
If you are about to move into your own student house and don’t know how to do some of the tasks I have mentioned, get someone to show you now. Part of living away from home in a student house is becoming independent and surviving without the safety net of your parents. I know many people are taught how to use the washing machine and how to prepare their favourite meals but a bit of simple DIY is also helpful. Obviously, you have a landlord to do major repairs but being able to do things for yourself is a good life skill. I have also taught my housemates and when there is a problem I phone up my dad and her talks me through problems if he thinks there is an obvious easy solution. As much as I got fed up with being shown how to do things before I moved away, it has enabled me to get on confidently on my own and it is good to know I don’t always need to run to mum and dad for help.
So you have received you’re A-Level results and are off to University! If you are moving away and are off to live in student accommodation there is lots you will need to take with you, some obvious and some things that you may not have thought of. Here is a guide to some random items that you may wish to bring with you to ensure you have all you need in your new student home. This is written from personal experience of living in student accommodation in Nottingham, whilst studying at Nottingham Trent.
Clothes horse – You are likely to find that tumble dryers either aren’t available or cost too much to run. A simple clothes horse is a great help for drying your clothes efficiently, unless you are planning on taking all your washing back home for your mum to do! It is easy to find one for under a tenner. Make sure you get one that is easy to fold away.
Two sets of bedding – You are likely to not have easy access to a tumble dryer so make sure you bring 2 sets of bedding so you always have a clean set available when the other one is being washed.
Larger Plastic cup/beaker – After a night out you will definitely need a large glass of water by your bedside to help rehydrate you. A plastic cup is useful in case it gets knocked off, especially if you have a hard laminate floor.
Dressing up clothes – Raid your wardrobe for clothes that may be good for dressing up. Unions and student nightclubs often have student theme nights so if you have any old dressing up clothes, be it cowboy hats, 70’s outfits, neon tutus etc are likely to come in handy and save you buying new ones.
Earplugs – Student accommodation can be noisy. Every night can be a night out for students and they will come in handy when you need a good rest and a quiet night in. Party till the early hours is fun when you are doing it, but not so great when you want to sleep and others are making noise at 3am! Ear plugs will help to block out the noise and help with a better night’s sleep.
Tin opener – Tinned food tend to be cheap and a good student staple but is not much good without a tin opener! Student accommodation varies when it comes to kitchen equipment, so make sure you find out what you need before you go. If you are stuck look in pound shops for bargains!
Extension cables/bar plugs – Most students these days tend to have a wealth of gadgets and chargers. Hairdryers, hair straighteners, laptop chargers, mobile phone chargers, alarm clocks, lamps, televisions, DVD players, games consoles etc all need to be plugged in, many at the same time, but you may only have one or two plug sockets in your room in your halls or student home. A bar plug will be useful to power a range of things at one and extensions cables are good if the plug sockets are not where you need to plug this in.
Medicine – A range of cold/flu remedy’s, allergy tablets, cough sweets, painkillers etc are useful to have in stock. When you are at University you won’t have mum or dad available to pop to the shops when you are feeling rough so having some on standby is useful. These are especially useful the first few weeks as you are likely to catch the dreaded Fresher’s Flu!!
Cleaning products – Unless you want to live in filth, you will need to clean! Some basic multi-purpose cleaners are the best option as you don’t want to be storing lots of different bottles.
I hope this was a helpful list of things you may not have considered when preparing to move into student accommodation.
Times are hard, and everyone you speak to seems to be struggling to make ends meet whatever their financial situation. Even those on relatively good salaries are feeling the pinch as utility bills continue to rise and the weekly shops seems to cost more and more every time.Of course there is one group of people who are infamous for moaning on about money, or lack of it, and they are students. Leaving the comfort of the family home and moving into student accommodation, suddenly being responsible for their own finances and managing their own budget can be quite a shock to the system to some young people. The realisation that money doesn’t grow on trees can be a difficult lesson to learn for even the brightest sparks. So what can we all do to make our money stretch a bit further each month, short of robbing a bank?!Well….banks, theres an interesting place to start. Some blame the banks for getting us into this mess in the first place but hey no need to hold a grudge. Lets just have quick think about how we can use the banks to improve our own individual situations.
Students can often get a really good deal from banks so while they are out looking for student properties it may be a good time to bring up the subject of bank accounts.They will often offer some really good incentives such as free music downloads, gig tickets and discounted train fares just for opening a new current account with them. As for the rest of us, keep an eye on interest rates on your savings account and if another bank is offering a better rate then switch. likewise with ISA’s and mortgage deals. Being on the ball and playing them at their own game is the only way to bet the bankers!
Cashback is the new buzzword for the internet savvy shopper and most students know their way around cyberspace pretty well. Sign up now to quidco, topcashback or kidstart to take advantage of some really great money saving deals. High payers tend to be mobile phone companies and, insurance providers as well as many well known high street stores and restaurant chains. There is a voucher available for almost anything online so never buy anything without googling it first!
One thing that students learn very quickly is that the best way to save money is to learn to share. Some find this hard, others take to it very well. But living in student accommodation is far easier and cheaper if you can agree a food budget and shop as a collective rather than every man for himself. Buy things like pasta in bulk and give the cheaper supermarkets a go instead of sticking to the one your mum always uses! Be brave and experiment a bit with cheap but interesting recipes that are easy to prepare for a group of people. And although it is tempting to opt for a take away every night (which are often conveniently located close to student properties) this really is the most expensive option so avoid, avoid, avoid!!
Money may be tight but with a bit of thought and planning you can make even the smallest budget stretch to meet your needs.