Stay safe

You may have heard stories but the student areas around campus are not as dangerous as some people think. As long as you look out for your own safety and that of those around you, most issues can be avoided. It’s simple and you’ve heard it all before – take care when crossing roads, don’t walk around after dark on your own, book insured taxis, and never leave your doors or windows open. Try to hide your phone and wallet or purse when you’re out and about so you’re not showing off your valuables.

Say hi to your neighbours

It’s very important to show your neighbours, whether they’re students or other community members, that you’re friendly and approachable – it will sort out a lot of potential problems later down the line.

So if you know your neighbours are students, maybe invite them round to get to know them. Knowing their rough schedules (and them knowing yours) will help avoid any nasty conversations at 2am on a weekday. The same goes for other community members – you may live next to a family, a young professional, or an elderly person, so make sure you take the time to say hello and let them know that they can get in touch at any time for help with the garden, changing the lightbulbs in the dining room, or if you’re being too noisy (or if they are!).

Parties and noise

Speaking of noise, you must be considerate of the houses around you if you decide to play loud music or congregate on the pavement at night or early in the morning (for example, if you’re waiting for taxis to take you into town for a night out).

Keep the noise down between 11pm and 8am and you shouldn’t have any complaints. If you do, respond to them immediately and turn it down. Otherwise, you could be reported for anti-social behaviour.

Bin collection

Check when your street’s bin collection day is at The night before your bin collection, place your black bin out on the street (but be careful not to obscure the pavement so that pushchairs or wheelchairs can get past). Then, when the bin is empty, bring it back onto your property – usually this is down a side passage, in the back garden, or by the front door behind the front wall.

Try not to overfill your bin. If a bin is too heavy the collection may not happen, and you don’t want waste to build up on the street.

Finally, remember to recycle as best you can, putting the right items in the right bins – more information about this can be found on the Birmingham City Council’s website.

Budgeting and saving money

Whatever income you have to cover your rent and cost of living, it can be a good idea to set up and stick to a budget. This could be as simple a setting a weekly cap on spending or as complicated as a fully-fledged spreadsheet.

To easily save money, consider the following:

Turn off lights and heaters when you leave a room

Turn your shower temperature down by a few degrees

Buy some good coffee and a reusable cup for a morning caffeine fix without the expense

Try to buy as many ingredients as possible in your weekly shop, rather than ready-made meals

Buy fruits and vegetables (including potatoes) loose by weight

Keep a Bag For Life in the bottom of your uni bag to avoid 5p bag charges

Food shop after you’ve eaten your evening meal to a) get those reduced end-of-day bargains and b) to avoid unnecessary hunger-induced buys

Put a lid on your saucepan and turn down the heat – it will cook the same as on the top heat with the lid off, and save on your energy bill

Take advantage of student deals and discounts on your higher expenses such as gym membership

Share streaming subscriptions as a house by each chipping in and utilising the multiple profiles

Get a railcard to save on the trip to the city centre from Selly Oak and University stations

Take out a set amount of cash for socialising and don’t get any more out of the ATM

If you eat meat and dairy, try to reduce the amount of these in your meals and go veggie (or even vegan) for one or two meals a week. Meat and cheese are often the highest value items in a shopping basket!

Get as many books as you can from the year above, the library, in e-book form, or from second hand retailers online

Your landlord and your rights

Communication with your landlord or letting agent is key to maintaining a good relationship. It may seem like lettings agents or landlords automatically assume things about you because you are a student so it is up to you to show them that you are a responsible, reliable tenant!

If something breaks, either accidentally or through misuse, it’s your responsibility to report this to your landlord or property management. Always follow up phone calls or texts with an email so you can prove that you’ve reported the damage.

Unless it’s an emergency, anybody wishing to enter your property (including your landlord) has to give you 24 hours’ notice in writing. You are entitled to quiet enjoyment of your home, so make sure you check your email account if you’ve requested a repair or are expecting a visit.

It is likely that the landlord or property management will be responsible for sorting out damp issues on walls, fabrics, and ceilings. However, you can help reduce the impact of potential damp by not drying clothes on radiators, closing the bathroom door after a shower to let the steam escape through the ventilation or a window and not spread to other rooms, keeping the property well ventilated, and reporting any issues as soon as possible.

students volunteering gardening

Get involved

Take advantage of University and local community initiatives to volunteer and get stuck into projects around your new home. Not only can this be a great way to meet new people and make a difference, but can really add to your skills portfolio and give you something interesting and different to talk about in the future, for example in job interviews.

LATEST VOLUNTEERING NEWS: Posted on 10 Oct 2018 – More than 7,000 University of Birmingham students volunteer every year

Getting involved, even if just for an hour a week, can help you to build new skills outside of your studies and social life and can make memories for life!