It’s always good when looking for rented space – or a bicycle or laptop, for that matter – to figure what you’re aiming at spending beforehand, based on your personal budget. Of course, many will insist they can only determine their budget once they’ve waded through and gleaned what’s doable from the offers in the marketplace, but it’s preferable to come in knowing how much you can spend, or will spend.
The main reason is, that it allows you to narrow down within a price range, which in turn allows you to compare apples with apples. If Spot A is dark and dingy in comparison to Spot B, but the same price, you immediately start building up a mental picture of a good deal. You’ll know it when you see it.
There are broadly three approaches to finding your ideal accommodation, and it’s largely your affinity for an approach that will determine how you go about finding your digs.
Contact The University To See What They Have Available
The first and obvious choice for many is simply to seek accommodation on campus, in university-owned residences. It resolves lots of issues as a student when you “live and work” in the same place. Of course, for many this option is completely uncool, and they will want to ensure they’re independently off campus in their leisure time.
Along with all of the copious intel registering students are sent, there’s always a bit about residence, how to apply and costs. Here the golden rule is to apply first, holiday later. If you really want to be in a university res, get your application in as soon as you can. The resource is finite – don’t get left out because you couldn’t send a mail before hitting the beach at Durban. If you’re unsure of costs and availability, buzz the help desk at University of Pretoria, Tshwane University of Technology, or wherever it is you’re going to study.
Deal With Specialised Agents Or Dedicated Buildings
If campus buildings are full, or that’s really not your thing for whatever reason, you can opt for agents or premises that specialise in student accommodation. The reasons are bountiful – agents know what’s available in a given area, they know the game and are unlikely to waste your time with venues that don’t conform to broad standards. Purpose-built student accommodation buildings likewise, although if they’re full, you’ll have to keep looking.
Many dedicated student hostel buildings are NSFAS accredited and are specifically geared for students only. Websites like digsconnect.com are also dedicated student-centric search engines, which refine things tremendously. Respublica is another dedicated agency with a 300-room residence in Pretoria. South Point houses a lot of students each year, and Student.com allows you to fill in your specs and they’ll show you everything that meets them pronto. There’s also CampusKey, studentaccommodation.co.za (kind of like Airbnb for students) and – if you’re hoping to walk into Paris Hilton – IQ in Brooklyn.
Shoot From The Hip – Google Student Accommodation
Googling a variety of phrases around student accommodation will certainly return results, but it can be a nightmare to wade through. It’s voluminous, often unqualified (unless there are reviews) and – depending on your personality type, might just crush your spirit. Then again, many adventurous spirits might actually enjoy jumping in the deep end, so different strokes for different folks. It helps that Google’s AI now lists, for example, “student accommodation in Arcadia” and a host of other suburb-specific search options at the bottom of the SRP – check that out to narrow your search geographically.
Know that you’ll encounter first time renters who may or may not – depending on how sane they are – actually be in possession of genuine student accommodation. It can waste a lot of time looking at too far out of the way places, or converted garages owned by lunatics. If you’re going to shoot straight into the SRP maze, this is one time you really need to be clear on your budget and living requirements – how big or small, how near or far, what needs to be in the place or definitely not in it (think 11 dogs and 17 cats), and who do you have to accommodate as neighbours, and will they happily accommodate you?
The first returns will generally be organised, professional premises that specialise in student digs, and you can feel your way through their appeal or whether you’re looking for that special little nook you can call your own small treasure. You’ll find loads on Gumtree, OLX and even ananzi.co.za.
- Don’t accept promises of future repairs when viewing a dump – it’s not going to happen. There is sufficient lekker student accommodation in and around Pretoria for everyone to live decently.
- Don’t compromise your safety. If it appears that a local street gang is trading tik on the corner, or that your landlord has done time for unnatural things, give it up. No one can expect good academic results when they’re stressed about personal safety.
- Don’t be naive about costs. Your ability to pay a certain rent should be factored against an overall cost of living. Saying “Oooh yummy” to a lovely apartment only to realise it’s going to cost you your grocery budget is stepping right into stress. Don’t do it to yourself – be real about where your comfort comes from and forsake glitz that might be overpriced.
- Also, transport is key. You need to know how you’ll get to and from classes, how you’ll attend other regular activities, and how you’ll get around when you’re just being social. What will happen all the time, and what might happen sometimes? How much do those options cost? Are they realistically fitted into your monthly budget, and are they acceptably safe as day or night options?