1. Contents may be covered by your parents’ home insurance.
2. Council tax may not apply. Unless you live in Northern Ireland, council tax is a tax that applies to residential properties. Almost all full-time students are exempt, but you’ll need to notify your local authority and quote your UCAS number.
3. Switch on to utility savings. Just because the previous occupiers of your flat used one supplier for gas, electricity or water doesn’t mean you have to. Switching or changing the way that you pay your bills (from quarterly to direct debit, for example) could save you money.
When you move in:
- Take meter readings and send them to your provider.
- Ask for a personal projection, which you can then use to compare prices on an Ofgem accredited comparison site.
- Remember that exit fees may apply when ending a contract early.
4. Boost your broadband. If you want to switch to a cheaper or faster service there are two different processes you may have to follow, depending on the provider you're switching to and from and the type of connection you have or are looking to change to.
Either way, your first steps should be the same:
- Keep an eye on your budget when deciding on your broadband package: ask yourself whether streaming movies on Netflix and using Spotify may up the megabytes you need to pay for and whether you really need to include a television subscription from a provider like Sky, Virgin Media or BT Vision.
- Contact the provider you want to switch to. They should be able to tell you which process you need to follow.
Note: Regardless of the process you follow, you have the right to cancel a switching request within 14 days of the date you entered into the new contract.
5. Picking up the bill. If your name is on a utility bill (e.g. gas, electricity, phone/broadband or water, depending on where you live) you’re legally responsible for the whole bill – even if it’s your flatmate who hasn’t paid their share. Be clear about how bills will be paid and split from the start – a shared account that you all pay into to cover rent and bills can help.
6. Tune in to TV licence payback. From 1 September, you’ll need a TV licence (£145.50) – even if you’re just catching up on BBC iPlayer. But if you’re moving back home for the summer and no longer need your licence, you may be eligible for a discount.
7. Account for tastes. It can be cost-effective to split food costs when sharing a flat, but it can also lead to squabbles over one person – or their friends – devouring the lion’s share of the week’s shop. If you’re going to divide your grocery costs, consider sharing costs for the meals that you’ll cook together but keeping snacks and drinks that are quickly finished separate.