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What about living off-campus?

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Most people coming to York live in college, but if nothing grabs you or you're unlucky enough to miss out on a room, then you might consider living off-campus. There are a range of options open, and although it may look horribly scary and daunting, you shouldn't panic as with a few careful pointers you'll be moving into your new home hitch-free.

1. Choosing where to live

You'll need to choose between off-campus college accommodation, private rentals and flat shares. Living in Fairfax house (part of Vanbrugh), Constantine House and 65-7 Fulford Road (part of Wentworth, postgrads only) will mean that you're alongside other students and you'll be part of a college. With the private housing markets and flat shares, you'll be assigned a college so don't worry you won't miss out (see points 3--5 for more).

Finding housing outside of the calm of the uni accommodation website can be daunting. The University website has a page devoted to finding somewhere to live, and this is a great place to start. Beyond that there are letting agencies which advertise houses. The most popular are Sinclairs, Adam Bennett, IG Properties, Right Move, Find-a-Property and Prime Location (a full list can be found here). If you need someone to share a house with, check out the 'YUSU House Hunting 2013/14' Facebook page.

Definitely note that there really isn't a shortage of student housing in York, so shop around. There are places charging rents of up to £185 per week, so do shop around. Depending where you live, rents per week on a 51 week let should be somewhere between £60 and £110, and possibly a bit more if you're in a private halls of residence.

You can also lodge (live in someone's spare room), and there are useful sites to help you find rooms on offer such as SpareRoom.com.

2. Dealing with landlords

Some will tell you that properties are short, and you'll end up without anywhere to live if you don't sign today, but it's all sales talk! Just tell them you're also considering a couple of other properties, and then it'll be them who are worried. But check out the house online if you can and see if there are any reviews of the landlord. And definitely DO go and see the property. You'll regret it if you turn up on day 1 and the walls have been decorated with a nice even coat of Dulux finest mould. Once you sign, you'll usually have to put down a deposit, and then you're all set.

3. Getting involved: Societies and Sports clubs

Living off campus, you might be worried about making friends and getting involved in university life, but it can actually be an advantage as you're forced to get involved in societies and sports to meet people. Whether you eventually choose to live on campus or not, I can't stress enough how great an opportunity these are! You can't meet too many people in your first year. I'd say you can commit to about 3 or 4 societies in your first year and still keep up with uni work, and some people even do 6 or more!

4. Getting involved: Colleges and Freshers' Week

I can't lie that it does take more effort to get involved than living on campus, but colleges are there to help you out. Let your college know where you're living and you'll be assigned a STYC (your guide in Freshers' Week and beyond) who will tell you about all that's going on in Freshers' Week. They'll take you to join a flat in your college which is a great place to start meeting people.

Living off campus allows you to meet people from different ages, courses, college, societies and sports teams that some people who don't venture beyond their college block never see. It gives you the chance to be fully independent, and puts you out of your comfort zone. A lot of people will tell you that college life was the best thing about their first year, and I'm sure they're right, but in the end it comes down to personal preference and circumstance. And anyway come second year you'll be a dab hand at dealing with landlords and bills while everyone else is scrabbling around in a wild panic!

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