Don’t be shy about picking your housemates. If you have doubts or worries about any potential housemates you should raise them now rather than after you have signed the lease.
It might be really uncomfortable to tell someone you don’t want to live with them, but its better to deal with it now rather than regretting it all year.
Ask people who have already rented properties in the area. Some letting agents will really take advantage of the fact you have never done this before. Ask other students if the letting agent is helpful; if you had a water leak or a broken oven would they send someone out promptly to fix it? Once the lease is over, will they charge you unnecessarily for wear and tear or even a complete repaint? These things can happen especially in some student letting agents.
The more you see the more you will understand the overall standard of student housing and you’ll also understand what to expect from your money. The more houses you see the better informed you are to make a decision and the better your house will be.
Are the windows double glazed? Is there parking? Possibly most importantly, check the energy efficiency rating. You may be saving money on rent but if your flat is freezing you’re going to lose money on heating. Heating is one of the main reasons housemates fall out, so if you can save money there, you’ll get along better in the long run.
This is possibly the most important one. There’s often a lot of pressure from letting agents to rush into renting. They will often tell you that they have other groups looking at this property that day, or how someone will be making an offer tomorrow. Don’t listen to it, it’s a sure fire way to make you rush into renting a house you’re pretty apathetic about. Just relax, houses are not disappearing as quickly as you think.