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When should you look for student accommodation?

Once you have accepted your study place, you need to start looking for suitable student accommodation in Preston. It is beneficial to visit your study place and get a feel for the available types of student accommodation and identify your needs; for example, some students are happy to share bathroom facilities, whereas others prefer an en-suite. The location is also essential, as you want something that will be close to the lecture theatres, library and study areas. If you are planning to make the most of what the city has to offer, you want something quite central to the shops, bars, cafes, leisure facilities and nightlife.

The best time to start looking for student accommodation depends on what year you are in. Many universities will give preference to first-year students looking for accommodation in student halls. This is usually the most popular choice when students first start at university, as they want to make friends and want the security of the university managing the halls. In this way, they know that any maintenance issues will quickly be dealt with, and there is usually the reassurance of knowing that there is a university team to deal with any problems that arise; for example, in the case of rowdy student groups, the university security team can step in to calm down any disturbances.

Universities will usually set deadline dates for when the applications for accommodation need to be submitted. They will stay in contact with students to keep them updated on the deadlines and availability and will confirm when a place has been allocated. Make sure you stick to the deadline dates and get your application in on time. Also, make sure that you confirm the accommodation, understand the requirements for making the finance arrangements, and respond to communications to secure your accommodation. Be sure that you have your financial arrangements in place and that you make the necessary transactions by the agreed payment dates. Many universities are in a position to offer university accommodation to first-year students; therefore, you shouldn't have a problem finding suitable accommodation provided you complete the application process properly.

After the first year, a lot of students decide to arrange accommodation for themselves, usually with a group of friends. As many universities prioritise first-year students, it is less certain that you will be able to stay in university accommodation for the second and third years. If you decide that you want to stay in university accommodation, you should get an application in early before arrangements are made to accommodate the next intake of first-year students.

If you decide that you want to find your own accommodation for the second and third years, the best time to start looking for accommodation for the next academic year is as early as November. There can be quite a lot of competition for the best places, so you should decide early on who you want to live with, what your budget is, and the type of accommodation that best suits your needs. Starting the search in the winter months can you give you the advantage of finding the best places early on and securing your place. However, don't be in too much of a hurry, as you will be spending a year in this accommodation with this group of people. Only settle on something when you are sure it is right for you.

If you are planning to move out in the second or third year, you need to ensure the location suits your needs and consider the budget side of things. Ensure you do your due diligence and ensure you do not fall foul of the 'small print'. Work out how long the contract is for and whether the rental price covers utilities. There can be hidden costs that you may not have considered.

Can you apply for accommodation before firming?

If you want to start looking for accommodation before you have confirmed your first choice of university, you can have a look at what is available. Some universities may allow you to apply for university accommodation even if they are only your insurance option and not your first choice, but many will only accept your application if they are your first choice.

You can't apply for accommodation until you have received a firm offer of a place, but it is useful to have a look around and see what types of accommodation are available. This could even influence your choice of university. You are usually going to be living and studying here for at least three years and you may find that two universities offer similar courses and facilities but the accommodation at one could make it your main preference. It is good to get an idea of what type of accommodation you want and what is available. It might be important for some students to have self-catering facilities or en-suite rooms, so it is a good idea to consider everything before you confirm your place.

You won't be able to confirm your university accommodation until you have a firm offer of a place to study there; however, you will know what the options are and what your preferences are, so you will be in a good place to make your accommodation application.

Bear in mind that you need to consider what types of accommodation best suit your needs. Suppose you live far from the place you are going to be studying or you are planning to get a part-time job. In that case, you may decide that you want a longer tenancy contract than the university accommodation can offer and may prefer to go with private accommodation.

If you decide to arrange private accommodation, bear in mind that you will be signing a legally binding contract. You need to be sure that you have a firm offer of a place because if you sign the contract but don't get the offer of a place or your place is conditional, and you don't meet the conditions, you will have agreed to a tenancy contract that may be difficult to get out of. Some landlords may agree to release you from the contract if you can find another tenant to take it on, but this is not certain, and you could be left with a difficult financial situation if you are legally contracted to pay the rent on a place you can't use.

Is student accommodation first come, first served?

When you make your university accommodation application, most universities have enough accommodation for first-year students to be able to offer them what they are looking for; however, it is best to get your application in as soon as you can once you have been offered a place to study. This is especially true if you have particular requirements, perhaps in terms of budget, self-catering or an en-suite room, as there may be less of these types of accommodation available.

You need to check with your university when the best time is to get your accommodation application in. You can often send in the application as soon as you get a formal offer, but some universities do not accept any applications until after a certain date. This can vary across universities, so be careful to check when you can get the application in and make sure you stick to the application deadlines. As a rule, assume that the first applications will be processed first, so it is first-come, first-served. However, don't panic too much about this, as there will usually be enough accommodation available to suit everyone's needs. Keep in touch with the university to make sure you know what the rules are for applying for accommodation and make sure you respond to their communications in a timely manner. You may need to confirm your acceptance of an accommodation offer, so make sure you have everything confirmed in writing so that you can relax knowing that everything has been sorted.

If you are planning to move to Preston and are looking for great student accommodation, why not try Brunel Court? It is in a great location, just ten minutes away from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and has great facilities so that you can make the most of your student days. Close to the centre of Preston and the university, you can make the most of your time here studying in a vibrant place with lots to see and do. Brunel Court offers great student rooms, which are well equipped and well maintained; a social space where you can relax with friends; a retro arcade games room; and a cinema and gym. There are also practical facilities available, including a kitchen to entertain, a laundry room and parking facilities. Come and see what is on offer so that you can make the most of your time studying in Preston.

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