Living costs - what to expect
There are many different types of accommodation available in the local area from a room in someone's home to a luxury self-contained apartment. In general, rental costs in Newcastle area can be around £300-£500 a month, depending on the type of room/property that you get. You may find cheaper rooms in shared houses, but it is unusual. The luxury places will cost a lot more!
Many student landlords and apartment style accommodation include bills in the rent, up to a certain specified amount. If you have to pay your own bills, it will depend how many people live in the house, the size and age of the property, but somewhere around £100-£150 a month for gas and electricity together would be average. This would then be split between all the tenants. Larger properties may use more gas and electricity and therefore cost more.
Broadband costs are around £25-£30 but again, many landlords include this in the rental costs.
It is highly recommended that students get contents insurance to cover their possessions in rental properties. Whilst the landlord will get insurance to cover the building and their own fixtures and fittings, you will need your own insurance in case of damage or theft. There are many different options available, but it will cost approximately £100-120 a year.
Water bills are often covered by the landlord but if not, you are looking at about £30 a month. Again, larger houses will have higher bills.
The next big expense is food and grocery costs. It will very much depend on how much you eat and drink, whether you have a special diet and if you share things like milk, bread and cleaning products with your housemates, or if everyone buys their own. Expect to pay £25-£40 a week for a basic shop for one person.
You may need to factor in travel costs. Some properties are within walking distance, but most require public transport. At the moment, a monthly bus ticket is £48.50. Taxi rides can certainly add up to an expensive way to travel!
It's vital to consider all these things alongside what your income will be, before signing up to a house. Once you are under contract, even if your circumstances change, you are most likely to be tied in.
If you have never lived in privately rented accommodation before, keeping on top of all the new bills can be a challenge. It's really important to know what you need to pay and when, and to make sure everyone takes responsibility. If you rely on student finance, you will be used to your money coming in three chunks throughout the year. Whilst that is great whilst you live in halls, it becomes a challenge when your bills start arriving each month!
Unless you have a contract that includes all bills, you will usually need to pay for gas, electricity, phone/broadband, water, TV licence and contents insurance.
Keep a clear note of when each bill needs to be paid. Is it weekly, monthly, quarterly or a one off payment?
It's worth having a calendar in a communal space so that everything is clearly marked for everyone to see.
Try and make sure that everyone takes care of at least one bill. It can become overwhelming if one person takes on all the responsibility.
It is a good idea to have all the tenants' names on each bill, so that legal responsibility does not fall to one person, if people do not pay their fair share. That way everyone is encouraged to pay on time so that their credit score is not negatively affected.
Make sure you know where your gas and electricity meters are and submit regular readings to your utility companies. This should prevent any big shocks at the end of the tenancy!
ASK have produced a budget calculator to help you work out your monthly income, remind you of the kind of things you may have to pay out for and see what's left over. Our Finance pages have lots of advice but if you prefer to have more detailed budgeting help ASK can advise you.
Saving money on your energy bills
The average student spends over £500 each year on energy bills but when looking for a property there are a number of actions you can take to save money on your energy bills.
You may wish to shop around and get the best deal for your utilities. You will probably need the permission of your landlord to change suppliers so check your contract and check directly with your landlord.
Check out the NUS guidance which has information on Energy Performance Certificates, avoiding damp and mould, smart meters, tips on wasting less energy and getting the best deal from the suppliers:
NUS Ready to Rent: Save money on your energy bills