Making A Choice

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Many students end up living at home during their first year in college but this isn’t a option for everyone – Aran Islands residents, for example, can find commuting a pain. If you do have to find a new home, then there are three main options open to you – renting, living in digs, or on-campus accommodation.

If you are opting to rent, then make sure that you don’t become a pig in a poke. The best way to do this is to thoroughly investigate all aspects of the experience…Try to get to know the people you are moving in with at least a little before you take the plunge. Otherwise you may find yourself living with a fervent religious nut, who insists on talking to you about the Lord during the OC. Make sure that your landlord is on the up and up. There is nothing more distressing than stepping out of the shower to find him there to hand you a towel.

Before you commit to taking a place, find out how much contact you will have with him. For example, find out how your rent is to be paid. Will it be through the bank or will the landlord be coming around at odd hours? Does he live on the same street? Does he have curtain-twitching spies? (You should probably phrase your questions a little more delicately, but these are the things that you need to know. )

When you are viewing the house/flat, there are some basic things that you should check.

These include:· Are the front and back doors fitted with secure locks?

· Is the house in a student area?

· Will you be living far from college and what is the public transport like?

· Are all the appliances – shower, washing machine – in full working order?

· Does the present furniture come with the house?· Is there a funny smell or damp on the walls?

· How does the central heating work?

Don’t be afraid to get down to brass tacks when you are quizzing your prospective landlord about money matters. Find out all you can – if you don’t mention it, chances are he won’t.

Pertinent questions include: ·

How much is the rent? (Find out the location average beforehand to make sure that you are not being taken for a ride)· How much is the deposit and when do you get it back?· Will you have to pay rates/council charges?· Will you have to pay the connection fee if you want telephone/television?· If there is oil central heating, who is going to buy the gas?· What are the conditions of the lease?


If you don’t fancy all the hassles of renting, then consider getting a place in digs – renting a room in someone’s home. This eases the transition from living at home to being on your own, as meals are generally provided and bills are often included in your rent. However, you won’t have the same freedom as you would if you rented your own place and tenants’ legislation does not apply to students living in digs. Before you take a place in digs, there are some things that you will need to sort out. First of all, find out what kind of arrangement your “béan an tí” has in mind for you.

Some questions to ask are:· What access you will have to the kitchen and television room?· Are you allowed to bring guests back to the house?· Are all bills included in the price?· Is the arrangement flexible – e. g. can you stay for five days one week and seven the next?· What are the meal arrangements? · What is the notice period?

On-Campus Accommodation

All the universities and some of the institutes of technology and private colleges provide on-campus accommodation. Units usually consist of apartments that accommodate anything from one to six people. You will most likely get your own bedroom, which may or may not be en-suite and share the kitchen and the living room with your flatmates.

Prices vary, but rent is normally paid in two instalments – September and January. Additionally, students also have to pay a deposit to the college, refundable when all outstanding bills have been paid and providing that no damage has been done to the apartment.

The provision of on-campus accommodation is better than it has been in the past. Many colleges have recently completed building work on extended student housing and first-year students should stand at least a 50/50 chance of getting an on-campus home. To improve your odds, the advice is to get organised.

“Book early, ” warns Maura O’Neill, accommodation officer with UCC. “If you want to get on-campus accommodation, book very early. ”

However, be sure to contact the accommodation office of the institute that you are interested in before you send any money. They will give you details on the terms and conditions attached to living in student residence – e. g. some colleges will not allow you to have guests in your apartment after 12 pm. As well as this, if you do book early and then do not take up your accommodation offer, then you might find that your deposit is non-refundable. Getting a place on campus has many advantages. For a start, being around so many other students means that making friends will be a lot easier and you will have a decided advantage in the stakes to actually make it to a nine o’clock lecture. As well as this, the bar, shops and sports facilities will be nearby, any repairs to the flat will be carried out quickly and you will have the added bonus of campus security. On the downside, there will be many distractions to tempt you, you might have to share facilities with total strangers and you may simply get sick of the sight of the place.

Finding the Place

No matter where you want to live, you can get help finding it from the college accommodation office and the student union. They will provide you with a base to start your search, lists of digs and rental properties and advice. You also could consider putting yourself in the slightly damp hands of the local estate agent, but remember that this may involve paying over the odds. Be sure to ask around at college and check the notice boards – fellow students might be aware of places that are newly vacant or in need of another housemate. Newspapers are an invaluable source of information, but if they have a wide readership, then all the other house hunters will be right there in the queue beside you. Accommodation websites, such as and, are another way to find your ideal home and most provide daily updates. Check them early enough and you can get the jump on other house seekers. is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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