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Finding accommodation in Clearing

You've got your place in Clearing and now you need somewhere to live. Here's what you need to know, with advice from students who've been there and done that...

When you're going away to uni, your accommodation can seem like a make-or-break part of your student experience. After all, it's probably your first time living away from home. That can become even more daunting if you end up in a situation where you're not going to your first choice university and you're already feeling out of your comfort zone.

Here's what you need to know when you're sorting out your accommodation after having your uni place confirmed through Clearing, with tips and advice from members of our sister site The Student Room who've been through the whole process themselves.

Still going through Clearing? Read our ultimate Clearing guide including tips to find a new uni place.

Don't panic – you will find somewhere to live

While it's true that you may not end up in your first choice of halls or your first choice of room (en-suite bathroom, anyone?), you will be able to find somewhere to live. 

As The Student Room member Charlotte's Web says, "generally you'll get something at any university, but it might be a private let or private halls rather than uni halls if they're already full."

And you never know – you could even end up living somewhere better than your first choice would have been. 

"I was able to get into accommodation when I went through Clearing. It wasn't my first choice but it ended up being for the best because lots of people transferred over from my first choice of accomodation to the accommodation I was assigned to because apparently my first choice wasn't too nice to live in," shares madders94.

Do a bit of research...

Your first port of call should be the university's website, and in particular its Clearing pages. You'll probably be able to find information about which halls still have rooms available here. 

Some universities guarantee all students a place in their halls, but even if your university doesn't make that guarantee, plenty still have enough places for Clearing students. 

And as Charlotte's Web advises, once you've taken a look at the university's website, it's also "worth contacting each of them to ask whether they have any more availability". 

... and make sure you also learn the real story about accommodation

Unlike what you might learn from university brochures or open days, speaking to students who've actually lived in the accommodation will likely give you a different perspective. 

Our sister site The Student Room has specific university forums as well as a student accommodation forum, where you can see what other students are saying about their accommodation or ask any questions you might have about what it's really like to live there. 

Learn about your different housing options. Read our guides to private accommodationuniversity hallsprivate halls and living at home.

Secure your place quickly

It's a good idea to get your accommodation sorted as quickly as possibly after securing your Clearing place.

Check if you can apply right away – call the university's accommodation office or Clearing hotline for advice as they'll be able to tell you how to apply and which accommodation you can apply for. 

If there aren't very many free spaces, you may end up on a waiting list, which is another reason to start the process of applying for accommodation as quickly as possible – the sooner you get on the list, the higher up you will be and the more chance you'll have of getting a place you want. 

If your university can't offer you a place in any of its halls, they may offer a space in private halls or be able to put you in touch with approved landlords – more on that below.

Consider living in private halls or other accommodation 

Private halls are usually owned and run by a third-party operator, rather than the university itself, although they may have partnerships. They're often very similar to university halls – you can expect to get your own room and access to shared communal areas. Everyone you live with will be a student, although they might be studying at a variety of different universities in the area, rather than all being at the same uni. 

Other private accommodation covers houses or flats rented privately from a local landlord or letting agent.

"Even if you don't get accommodation (which is unlikely), there are still a load of people with spare rooms looking for potential housemates around," says l1lvink.

Get housing advice from your university

For those of you that find yourself without on-campus accommodation, it might seem like your chances of a fantastic first year are over. Don’t panic, that's not true. 

The most important thing is to talk to your university's housing office (and even the student union) about what to do, and get their advice because they know the local housing market really well.

They should be able to point you in the direction of private landlords and letting agents who they either work with or come recommended from previous years' students, as well as giving you advice on what to look out for when viewing a property and even matching you up with potential housemates from their pool of other students in the same situation as you. 

Ask what measures they have in place to help you link up with others in the same situation, plus anything extra they can do to help you feel more settled and comfortable in your first few weeks. Get involved in any housing-related Facebook groups affiliated with the university, or start following the housing office on Twitter for shout-outs to find other new students in the same position.

The Student Room's Find a Flatmate forum is another good place to look for a private rental, as are sites such as Gumtree, Rightmove and Spareroom. 

"Phoning the accommodation office is the best bet. I’m in the same position and phoned the office for Exeter’s Penryn campus today. They were super helpful and advised me to make an application for accommodation based on current vacancies they have and even told me what types of accommodation they currently have vacancies for and gave me advice on looking for private accommodation just in case," says HobbinsE.

Plus, the 10 things you’ll only learn about halls after you’ve moved in.

Ask yourself what you can really afford 

Lots of universities have developed plush accommodation at such a fast rate that you might end up being offered a top-end room, whether you can afford it or not!

A lot of university rents now fall outside of the amount of money your average student gets through their student finance – so what do you do if you're not able to find additional money elsewhere?

Don't feel pressured to accept unaffordable accommodation that could plunge you into debt. If you find yourself in that position, you should ask some serious questions of your university about how they expect you to fund your rent. Do you really want to find yourself in an unmanageable situation before even starting?

"I would say to go for the halls that you can afford and then still have money to live /eat/ go out after," says Eloise, a student at the University of Portsmouth. 

If you're really unhappy with your university accommodation, you might be able to apply for a room change

If you've ended up in university-managed accommodation, but when you arrive you find that you're really unhappy with your room, you might be able to apply to change your room or even the halls that you're in. The process for this will vary depending on the university, but you should be able to find more information on your university's website about how to get the ball rolling.

The Student Room member KaiserKhan shares their experience of applying for a room change: "I sent my application like 20-30 mins after applications were opened and I was told there were 100s of people ahead of me.

"The process involves you basically filling out a form where you have to choose your preferences and list specific places as your number 1-6 choice (similar to the one you get in Clearing). They would then contact you if a place at any of those became available, I had one after about a week if I remember correctly, which I declined after viewing the room, and then got another one a few days later.

"I asked them realistically if there were likely to be any spaces on my first choices and they said not really especially with my position in the queue, so I settled on the second offer I got and was pretty happy."

Get more tips on finding the right housing for you in our student accommodation hub

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