Tips Students

Top Tips to Maximise Your Student Space in a New Rental 

One thing that remains consistent with student housing across the globe is that space is usually at a premium. If you’re renting at the more economical end of the spectrum, chances are you’ll be working with a smaller space. But there are ways to make that space work for you, whether making use of nooks in a room that might be going to waste or creating the illusion of a larger space through colour and layout. Here are some tips to maximise your rental space, without the need to upsize your property. 

Make use of storage anywhere you can

Storage is the obvious solution to any rental property, but you really need to think outside the box when it comes to a small space. Avoid using large free-standing pieces – they might seem like a good way to keep your belongings organised, but they can make a small room feel more crowded and they’re bulky. Look at areas of your property where you can sneak in added storage to free up space, such as under the stairs, beneath your bed or adding shelving above door frames. Adding storage vertically and maximising wall space is also a great way to utilise an area of a room that typically goes to waste. 

Go light and bright

You might be surprised just how much of a difference the right colour scheme can make to a property. When you’re aiming to maximise space, the trick is to go lighter and brighter, to create the illusion of a bigger room. Opt for decorative and smart lighting tricks with different coloured bulbs. Or, experiment with 3D printing ideas to create stylish desktop lamps and inspiring tinted bulbs, as Tata Rossi, a professional photographer explains, “creative bulbs can be done in different colours and shapes, allowing you to show off your creativity and create unique lighting for any room”.

Most landlords will be open to you painting a property if it’s a neutral colour, so speak with them to see what you’re allowed to do, and opt for clean neutrals such as white or tinted creams that will bring more light into the room. And, don’t neglect the floor; it’s a large part of a room and can work wonders to enhance that illusion of the room being larger than it is. Instead of carpet, why not choose vinyl flooring that reflects light and is easier to maintain too, as an added bonus. 

Consider your placement of furniture

The placement of furniture and your belongings goes a long way to maximising a rental property’s capacity, and you might be surprised how you can redesign a space to create a functional and aesthetically-pleasing home. By rearranging your furniture, you may find that it opens up new opportunities for storage or simply how you use the space on a day-to-day basis. For example, maybe you pull the sofa out from the wall so you can fit a tall bookshelf behind it that can act as storage for books, DVDs and ornaments. Or maybe you can replace a coffee table with side tables at the ends of the sofa that will free up floor space without losing the functionality of somewhere to put your drinks or phone. 

Create zones

Partitioning a room, particularly if you’re renting a studio flat, can be a great way of feeling as though you have more rooms than you have and can help to create a cosy yet functional space. You can split your room into a sleeping area and a space to work on your coursework, for example, or maybe you have an open plan living and kitchen area. In this case, separate the two sections with a moveable partition that adds interest to the property but also offers privacy without taking away too much of that all-important space. 

Think multipurpose

If you can find items that do double duty, it will help you to make better use of your available space. Just because a flat or house is on the smaller side, doesn’t mean you have to get compact furniture to fill it. In fact, small spaces can appear even smaller if it’s cluttered with numerous small items. Instead, try to prioritise the items you really need and think about ways you can have those items serve multiple purposes. For example, can you swap out your dining table for a foldable alternative that can double up as a place to eat and work? Or maybe you can change up a regular bookshelf for one with a fold-out desk that provides storage and a workspace in one.


Finally, the less you have to fit into your student rental, the easier it will be to maximise your space. There are always things we hold onto that tend to sit in cupboards or on shelves for months without us using them, whether it’s books we haven’t read, DVDs we’ve not watched in years or clothes that don’t fit anymore. So if you’re on the move to a new rental, take the opportunity to have a declutter and think about what you really need to keep and what can be passed on to someone else or donated. You might be surprised once you take a look at your belongings just how much you’re finding room for that you don’t need to. 

Make the most of hidden opportunities  

There are endless possibilities when it comes to a small space, and you don’t have to assume that your interior decor options are non-existent just because your home is on the smaller side. Making the most of your own space will help settle in especially if you’re sharing a student house with good friends and you want to live together harmoniously! In fact, with a bit of creativity, illusion, DIY know-how and considering places in the property that might otherwise be ignored, you can utilise every inch of the property and also create the sense of a bigger property. 


Three top tips for finding a safe student property

The freedom and independence that comes with living in your own home away from mum and dad is one of the most exciting things about any student’s university journey. But with this newfound independence also comes a huge level of responsibility, both for your personal security and safety.

With most new undergraduates living on campus in their first year, safety within student accommodation will largely be taken care of by university services. If you lose your key, for example, security will be on hand to let you in. But when moving off campus, this safety net is stripped away, and the onus falls on you and your housemates to find a safe new property for the next year or two.

According to one survey, 39% of students felt pressured into starting their property search, but it’s important to properly take the time to find a place that’s right for you, since this is a pivotal part of your uni adventure. So how do you set about taking this exciting step? Here are three of our top tips to ensure you will feel completely safe and comfortable in your new digs.

Speak with current tenants

There is no better way of getting a proper feel about the safety of an area than by speaking to people who already live there. When viewing a property, you can expect to bump into fellow students who are currently occupying your potential future home. Instead of eyeing up how you might redesign their bedrooms, take the time to pick their brains, or ask for contact information if you’d prefer to talk away from the landlord (if you’re being shown around).

Come prepared with questions around not only the house itself, but also the local area and how safe they feel in it. Both during the day and at nighttime, it is crucial that you feel safe in the surrounding area, as you will be spending far more time off campus than you were in your first year.

Speak to the landlord about safety precautions

As well as feeling comfortable in the area, it’s just as important to feel safe inside your property. Whilst you will generally get a relatively good sense of how safe a house is just by visiting it, it’s advisable to also speak to the landlord about any measures or precautions that they’ve taken to further protect the property and its tenants.

Look out for security cameras/alarms and check locks on the doors and any outdoor storage spaces. All of these additional measures can help to prevent theft during your time at university as well as a whole host of other crimes, so this is a crucial part of your search. As well as your personal security, you should also look for and address any health and safety concerns. Things like fire extinguishers, no signs of mould and fully-working appliances should all be on your checklist for things to look out for when visiting a prospective property.

Use university services

Whilst it can feel like you’re being kicked off of campus into the big wide world at the end of your first year, the university will still be on hand to offer support and services to help you take the next step safely. They will be your first port of call when you begin your search for an off-campus home.

Not only will they be able to share their knowledge of the local area with you, but your student union will also be able to point you in the direction of some reputable landlords or estate agents. This can be helpful as using a landlord who regularly deals with student properties will be able to better advise and support you throughout the duration of your tenancy.


How to choose the perfect housemates for shared housing

For many reasons, you may find yourself in a position where you are considering shared housing. Whether you’re a student moving from halls into your first privately rented property, or a working professional moving to a new city, shared housing is an excellent way to save money on rent, meet new friends and make great memories.

Statistically more of us than ever are living in shared housing, and that covers all ages from 18-50+ years old. A survey in 2015 showed that the number of house sharers rose by 186%, and last year flatshare website SpareRoom reported that searches for shared housing had increased five-fold over the past 10 years. 

Despite being a popular option, choosing to live with friends, acquaintances and even strangers can of course come with its complications, and can be extremely daunting. We’ve gathered together a foolproof list of things to consider ahead of moving into shared housing, to help you find the perfect housemates, and not ruin your renting experience. 

Schedule a meeting to hang out, sit and talk

Now, this may seem obvious. However, if you’re moving from overseas, using an app to meet new people in your house share, or in a rush to find shared housing, it can be easy to find yourself in a situation where you skip out on crucial chats before moving in. Make sure you put some time aside to sit down and talk about details, and if it’s easier this could even be done virtually over FaceTime.  

Be honest about what it is you’re looking for in a housemate and shared housing 

Honesty is the best policy, after all. Being misleading about your lifestyle and what you’d like in a house share (and vice versa) can lead to future tensions. Consider what your daily schedule looks like, and what you think will complement it in a housemate. For example, does your university course or job have a lot of contact hours that could be unsociable, or could someone who is working from home and leaving the heating and TV on all day lead to tensions over the bills at the end of the month? We recommend writing all of these points down to discuss.  

Housekeeping, it’s not all fresh laundry…

Everyone’s idea of “clean” is very different. If you’re a bit of a germaphobe, you definitely won’t want to find yourself in shared housing where crusty dishes are left in the sink on the regular. Before committing to living together, try to establish what kind of a cleaner they are and see if a house cleaning schedule early on would avoid any awkwardness.  

Consider your social life

This is particularly important for those studying at University, or in a demanding job. A conflict in social lives can cause stressful living situations. If you’re a social butterfly, find yourself regularly recovering from the freshers flu, and are looking for a more social house share, it’s probably best that you don’t live with people who never leave their rooms. When considering your housemates, ensure you ask lots of questions about how they spend their free time. Ask what their ideal day-to-day circumstances would be in the house. Are they looking for someone who they can make friends and have dinner with, or would they rather keep themselves to themselves? 

Make sure they can pay their way

No one likes to have the money chat, but let’s face it, when it comes to living together it’s definitely the most important and stressful part of renting. It’s essential that you ensure that your potential housemates are able to pay their portion of the rent and bills before entering a contract together. This should all be confirmed through referencing checks, however, if you or other members of the house share are unemployed or studying, one way to alleviate this stress is to ensure there is a guarantor. If you’ve got concerns about members of your shared house paying their portion of the rent, Only My Share is also here to help you rent with confidence. 

Our service ensures that you are only responsible for your portion of the rent. Only My Share’s guarantee means that if a housemate is unable to pay and the landlord pursues you, we can step in. This is perfect for shared housing with friends, and strangers and can help to reduce difficult conversations and the risks of you having the liability of someone else’s costs. 

If you’re looking to enter a shared housing contract, find out more information about the Only My Share service by getting in touch today, or visiting our knowledge base here.