If you have never lived in rented accommodation, trying to juggle your academic studies and your new-found social life is hard enough without the hassle of keeping on top of all the new bills. Rent will more than likely be your biggest expense: you could get a room in a shared flat for about £250pcm, a one-bed flat for £450pcm or a modern and stylish 3-bed for £1000pcm. It's reasonable to expect to pay between £250pcm and £450pcm for your accommodation and some good places to start your house hunting, is on the RGU alternative accommodation page, the RGU:MOVE Facebook group and the Live Right campaign.
Before deciding on how much rent you are willing to pay, keep in mind any add-ons that you are going to have to pay also - a £350 property may end up costing £500pm with all the bills on top! You are probably aware that you may have to pay for gas and electricity but what about the phone-line, broadband, TV Licence and contents insurance? Have a look below at the most common fees and bills that you will come across, and a rough estimate of student monthly expenditure, to help you better plan for your next place to live.
Estimated Monthly Costs
The cost of living can vary greatly, especially when we take into consideration: lifestyle, budget, spending habits and wealth. Rent might be cheap, but factor in a deposit, electricity, gas, a TV licence, broadband, phone plans and insurance and you could be looking at £1500 extra on top of your rent a year – and this is without food or drinks! Here are some estimated per monthly costs to get you thinking about how much you are likely to spend: Rent: £250-450pcm; Utilities: £30-60pcm; Food: £100-200pcm; TV Licence: £12.50pcm; Broadband: £15-60pcm; Phone: £10-40pcm; Misc (laundry/printing/books): £20-£40pcm. This comes to an estimated total of around £430-860pcm.
Premiums/Letting Agent Fees/Admin Fees
Premiums are illegal payments requested by letting Agencies/landlords. Fees for carrying out reference/credit/inventory checks, charges for supplying duplicate copies of the lease and any non-refundable 'holding' fees are illegal fees. Letting agencies in Scotland are prohibited from charging fees before you sign up to rent a property. Once an agency has found you a property, they can ask you to pay a deposit and rent; it is illegal for them to charge any other fees. In the instance you are charged for anything other than rent or deposit, question it and refer them to Shelter. If you have been charged an illegal fee, you can challenge the fee at any time in your tenancy and up to five years after. For more information, visit Shelter.
Utilities are expensive! The property and the installations (boiler, TV, lights, etc...) use a lot of energy, so before deciding on a property, check the gas and electricity safety certificates, the efficiency of the appliances and the energy performance certificates. The energy performance certificate will give the property a rating from A+++ to G, with the former being the most energy-efficient. Higher rated properties may be slightly more expensive but in the long run you will save energy and in turn money. After moving in, take meter readings and contact the suppliers to inform them of the date you started your tenancy and your current meter readings. Every month, record your readings so you have the evidence to challenge any disputes over energy consumption. The number of tenants, the supplier, the amount of energy you use, and the state of the house all influence how much you are going to be paying.
Reducing your energy consumption is a good way to reduce your bills, but sometimes this is difficult to do when you're a student. Visit MoneySupermarket to reduce your expenditure!
The majority of full-time students do not need to pay Council Tax. After you have moved into a property, you should inform Aberdeen City Council you are a full-time student to ensure you are not charged, this can be done even if you have already received a bill. A property is only exempt from Council Tax if every tenant is exempt. If you are exempt from paying but you are living with people who are not, the property will receive a Council Tax bill. The responsibility is on non-exempt resident(s) to pay the tax as the student(s) is not liable for the bill. Ensure you know who you are living with before moving in as if other tenants demand you pay or they feel that you are not contributing, the situation can be very difficult to resolve.
As an estimate, students have £3,000 worth of possessions (laptop/phone/clothes/tablet etc…) so you need to decide whether you want to get cover for these items and to what extent. If you decide against insurance, then in the event of damage to or theft/loss of your belongings, you will have to pay the full amount to replace or fix them. Contents insurance can be as little as £10 a month and will reduce the cost of repairing or replacing your belongings and some insurance companies offer policies specifically for students. For more information, visit Citizens Advice. And if you are in RGU accommodation, core contents cover is usually already arranged in partnership with Endsleigh. You shouldn’t have to do anything to activate this cover, but check and make sure you fully understand the protection provided and whether it is sufficient you.
A TV Licence is legally required to watch or record programs as they’re broadcast on TV (this includes live programs on an online TV service or watching/downloading live or catch-up programmes on BBC iPlayer) and applies to any device (TV, laptop, mobile phone, games console, etc...). It costs around £150pa which can be paid in one sum or spread over the year. Halls normally have a communal licence but this won’t extend to your room, so if you are going to watch iPlayer in your bedroom, then you need to get a licence. If you are absolutely certain you don’t need a licence, inform TV Licensing. If you are found in breach, you could be prosecuted. For more information and to check if you are covered by your parents’ licence, visit TV Licensing.
Thinking about internet before moving in as it can take months to set up! ADSL and fibre are the two most common types to choose from; ADSL uses telephone lines and Fibre uses fibre optic cables, the latter is considered more reliable. ADSL normally costs less than £20 pcm, although you may not have the best speeds, and Fibre could cost up to £60pcm but is considerably faster. Students in shared accommodation usually select a fibre optic connection with wireless broadband to ensure they have internet in all parts of their property. Most broadband contracts are 12 months long but you can find some for 9 months. If you don’t want to be tied into a long contract or you don’t really access the internet a lot, you might want to consider mobile broadband which is cheap and with normally a 3G/4G/5G connection.
If you are going to live in shared accommodation, ensure everyone is taking on their share of the responsibility by keeping a clear calendar of when each bill needs to be paid (weekly, monthly, one off payment, etc…) and by making sure each tenant is taking care of at least one bill so that not one person becomes overburdened with responsibility – it can become quite a headache if you are responsible for remembering/paying/budgeting everything. If you are having some trouble with your bills, tcontact Citizens Advice, Shelter or ResLife.
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