Upon receiving your college offer, you should start thinking about accommodation immediately. Depending on your situation, you might continue living at home or you might have family members or friends that you can stay with. In some cases, college means moving to a new town or city or finding a flat for the first time. The general advice to first years who need to find somewhere to live is to stay in purpose-built accommodation, either on-campus or very close by, sharing a flat with other students or to go into “digs” and live with a family, either with meals included, or on a self-catering basis. Here are some steps you should consider taking.
Student accommodation, which may be on campus residences or student halls are normally self-contained communities or buildings. There are several benefits to living on student accommodation of this type. Firstly, halls allow you to meet new people (there are many social events specific to halls) and become familiar with your campus. Halls and on-campus accommodation will have everything you need nearby (shops, laundrettes, bars) and will allow closer access to campus facilities like the library and (more importantly), your classes. Accommodation of this kind is usually paid for at the start of the year and after Christmas, meaning you do not have to worry about monthly or weekly rent. Finally, student accommodation you don’t need to worry about bills or communicating with landlords.
Places for accommodation of this type are limited, so as soon as you know what college you’re going to, call and ask about their accommodation. Most third-level institutions have a certain number of rooms set aside for students with additional needs, so make sure you mention your diagnosis in order to be considered. You will be probably directed to a website to make your application. Read the prospectus so that you have a good idea of what the student halls are like.
(this list can be collapsed into an accordion feature on Elementor)
American College, Dublin 2
Athlone Institute of Technology
Cork Institute of Technology
Dublin City University, Dublin 9
Institute of Art, Design and Technology
Dundalk Institute of Technology
Griffith College, Dublin 8
Lodgings and Digs
Lodgings/digs means renting a room in a family house.
There are benefits to living in a digs or lodgings. Firstly, meals are usually provided (maybe breakfast and dinner) by the family. So long as your own room is kept tidy you don’t need to worry as much about cleaning. Finally, lodgings aren’t as expensive as private accommodation.
Potential negatives include the fact that you are essentially renting a small space in someone else’s home. This means that the sensory environment may be harder to regulate, especially if the family in question isn’t autism aware. There may frequently be strangers in the house, leading to unexpected socialising. Bills are usually included in the payment, including meals. Finally, you may feel less independence in a space like this. The family may object to you coming home at late hours and creating noise. They may also object to visitors such as friends or partners.
However, these negatives vary from house to house. Make sure you check what ground rules the homeowners expect from you before making any commitments.
Finding Non-Campus Accommodation
There are a number of places you can look for student accommodation.
CollegeCribs.ie, is a website dedicated to listing student accommodation in Ireland. You can search for a room, a house to rent with other students, or for digs.
Remember that you are not alone and that there are supports in place to help any student struggling with accommodation. You should contact your Student’s Union Welfare Officer to help you locate an appropriate property. The SU webpage is also likely to have accommodation lists to help in your search. Check Notice boards on campus, as students often put up notices seeking flatmates as well as houses offering lodgings off campus.
Student accommodation rent prices will vary depending on the location where you rent and the type of accommodation you choose.
Here are a few examples.
DCU: €300 security deposit, including admin charge. Rent for 2020/21 academic year: Larkfield, €5,878. Hampstead, €6,252. St. Patrick’s College, €5,766. Rents are payable in two instalments (Semester 1 & 2).
NUI Galway: €250 booking deposit. Annual rates vary from €3,750 to €6,942 depending on room type. A €375 utilities deposit is payable along with the first instalment in mid August and the second payment is due in early December.
Maynooth University: (Rye Hall and Village single shared bathroom) €2,630 before Check-in for first semester in late August with a final payment of €1,900 before semester 2.
TCD: Rooms from €206 per week. For further information go to: https://www.tcd.ie/accommodation/trinity-hall/
UCD: Blacrock Halls, €6,982. Belgrove and Merville, €7,781. Ashfield, Glenomena, Proby and Roebuck Hall, €9,550. Roebuck Castle, €11,926 (includes €2,376 catering fee). Fees quoted includes €400 deposit plus insurance and utilites.
For a full breakdown, check here.
What should I check before I rent?
Don’t panic and take the first place you look at. Ask someone with experience of living in rented accommodation to come with you and to check facilities such as heating, who you’re living with, how long it will take you to get to college and if the kitchen is okay for cooking. Look out for any potential sensory triggers, such as strong smells, strong lights or a noisy neighbourhood.
Make sure the living space is compatible with your living preferences. Ask yourself the following questions. Are you okay with sharing a room? Do you want a house where you can party and hold events or just a house where you can study and get a good night’s sleep? Do you prefer to cook for yourself? Are you willing to sacrifice certain home comforts (e.g. tv, certain cooking appliances) in exchange for independence or vice-versa? Do you want to live with other students or find your own place? Finally consider whether this property makes this possible and whether the landlord or homeowner has any rules which may conflict with your preferences.
Signing a lease
Before signing a lease ask about the deposit conditions. A deposit is a lump sum of money (often one month’s rent) that you are asked to pay to cover any damage to the accommodation while you live there. Ask the landlord under what circumstances will money be taken from the deposit on moving out. In some cases, regardless of how clean you kept the apartment, money may be taken from the deposit for maintenance such as cleaning the carpets or painting the walls.
Many students find that when it comes to asking for their deposit back, the landlord charges them for damage already done to the flat. You can take several steps to prevent this. Take photographs and notes of the condition of the room or house when you move. Email them to yourself immediately to give proof of the date when the pictures were taken. Ask the landlord for a list of items in the flat and a list of anything that needs to be repaired before you move in
If you follow these steps you should not be asked to pay for anything that was already broken or damaged when you moved in. If you feel your landlord is illegally holding back your deposit from you remember that you have rights. Click here to find out more.
The demand for rented accommodation is currently at its highest and as a result rental scams are becoming more common. When looking to rent it is important not to rush into a decision, be aware of offers that seem too good to be true (especially if they are found on social media) and always check the Register of Landlords to make sure your accommodation is legitimate.
Visit Threshold.ie for more information on rental scams, how to avoid them and what to do if you are scammed .