Things to check for in your student accommodation

Many students feel pressured to secure accommodation as early as possible. There’s many reasons why we would suggest not rushing the process, but one of the main reasons is to properly check out what’s available to you.

If you’re going from first-year into the second year this is especially important, as it is most likely the first time you’ll have the first-hand experience with estate agents and house viewings.

There is of course the obvious things to check for, but almost every second year can list of things they wish they’d have looked for during house viewings.

Keep reading to discover the most important things to keep in mind when securing your university house.

Mould and Damp

Possibly the most well-known thing to check for when viewing a house, but we couldn’t leave it out as its well-known for a reason. A house with mould and damp issues can cause hell for the residents, and most times the landlord will need to pay for work on the property for the issue to be solved.

If you notice mould or damp in any of the rooms, ask the estate agent about the issue. You want to check what is being done to solve the problem and ensure you won’t have to suffer from the issue yourself.

Be wary, most landlords and estate agents will brush the problem off and blame the current residents. This is a massive red-flag and it may be a good idea to carry on with your house hunt elsewhere.

Transport Links

If you’ve found the most perfect house to live in, it may be worth checking how far it is from the university campus and other key transport links such as a bus stop and train station. You may be living in luxury, but is a 2-hour walk to uni every day worth it? Even worse, how much will a taxi cost from your favourite club to your house.

You’ll realise how much you rely on public transport once you’ve made the mistake of renting a house miles away from integral transport links. You’ll also realise how expensive taxis actually are.

Parking

This isn’t important for everyone if you aren’t planning on bringing your car to uni with you. However, choosing a house with a driveway or ample parking available makes moving in and out of the property much easier than a road lined with cars or on the main road. Let’s not even get into houses on a red route…

It’s good to consider parking, and discuss with your housemates what everyone’s situation is. It’s definitely a personal choice, but can often be forgotten about. 

Local Amenities

Whether it’s a local shop or the nearest bar, you may want to see how far away local amenities are from your possible new house. Having a corner shop is great for an unexpected night out or when you realize you forgot to get an ingredient halfway through cooking your dinner.

Crime rate

Student houses can become key targets for local criminals, so it may be worth knowing which area has the worst crime rate and avoid them like the plague. There are lots of online resources to find this information out, and a quick google search should give you a general picture of what life may be like.

Although, you won’t find anywhere with a perfect crime rate, so don’t let this worry you too much. If you know your new house will be an area rife for fraud-related crimes it will help you to more vigilant if someone comes knocking at your door.

House Amenities

Finally, check what comes with the house and what doesn’t. During your viewing, you may spot hoovers, microwaves, kettles, and TV’s to name but a few things that may not be included with your tenancy. This can cause a few issues when you first move in.

Ask the estate agent what comes with the house or request a copy of the inventory. You can also ask any of the current tenants what came with the house if they are in during your viewing.

7:30am

It takes my eyes a few seconds to adjust to the morning light coming in through the gaps in the curtain. I made sure that I took time to recover from my hangover all of yesterday, to be able to wake up and make it to my 9 am lecture. Not that getting up before 9 am will ever feel easy. 

I always take a few minutes to scroll through social media before getting showered and dressed. I also make sure I check who’s going to the 9 am lecture in the group chat – as much as I value my education, I’m not risking being the only one there. Luckily, most of my friends have the same mindset as me and we arrange a place to meet before the lecture. 

8:45am

I spent way too much time on my phone this morning, so skip having breakfast at home and prioritise getting to campus on time. It’s only a 5-minute walk to campus, so I will have time to get some breakfast there. After all, a bacon bap and coffee from Starbucks is much more appealing than a bowl of cornflakes right now.

9am

After grabbing breakfast, I meet my friends outside the lecture theatre and head inside to get the best seats. Not too far back that I can’t hear the lecturer, but not too far forward that I can hear the lecturer breathe. Like goldilocks, the middle is just right. I prefer to write my notes in a notepad and highlight the important information, so I make sure I have all of this ready before the lecture starts.

10am

I have an hour break before my seminar today, so my friends and I grab another hot drink and catch up. Our spot today is the campus cafe, however when the weather’s good it’s nice to sit outside and catch some sun or take a walk around the nearby park.

11am

The seminar today is discussing the reading which was set last week. I made sure I did it straight away so I didn’t forget, but now I’ve completely forgotten the text. I quickly flick through my notes before the lecturer directs a question my way.

12pm

I head to the library to get a chunk of my essay done, it’s not due for a couple of weeks but I find doing little and often works best for me. I aim to stay and work for 2 hours before I go home and get some lunch. Realistically, I’ll get bored after half an hour and head home early, but it’s the thought that counts!

1:30pm

As expected, I found myself on my phone more than I was actually working, so called it a day earlier than I had intended. I use this time to up my step count and walk the long way home through the nearby park.

2pm

For lunch I make myself and my housemate and cheese and tomato panini. Just call me Gordon Ramsey.

It’s their day-off today and they waste no time in bragging about their chilled-out morning, whilst we catch up on the new series we’ve started. However, part of me is glad I had an early morning today – it gave me the chance to catch up on some work and be productive with my time.

5:45pm

After dedicating the majority of my afternoon to Netflix and Twitter, I’m glad to have plans this evening that get me out of the house. My friends from the tennis society have planned a meal out, of course, Nando’s is the most popular choice.

It’s good to limit the amount of money you spend on meals out and takeaways, however, I won’t be the person to miss out just because I got dominoes the other night. It’s all part and parcel of being a student right?

I get ready before heading to the bus stop. By the time I get there, a few of my friends have already gathered, waiting to get the bus. Living in a part of town which has a big student population makes meeting up with people easier than ever – even if you don’t plan it. Although an unplanned meet, I’m glad I’ve seen them at this point to avoid the bus ride alone as well as the awkward trying-to-find-your-friends-in-a-restaurant-alone scenario.

9pm

Before heading home, we play a round of mini-golf and grabbed some drinks at the bar. A few pina Coladas in and I’m ready to head home to get an early night, after all, I have another early start tomorrow.

It’s always hard to leave early, but luckily some of my friends found themselves in a similar situation to me so we headed home together.

10pm

I spend the late evening with my whole house, watching late-night TV with a mug of hot chocolate and a bowl of popcorn.

I know I said I wanted an early night, but that counts as any time before 1 am right?

11:30pm

Later than anticipated, I decided to hit the hay. At this point, I was completely exhausted. It’s not easy juggling uni assignments and a social life!

I like to feel as though I have a good work/life balance and today was a good example of that – even though my library session didn’t go as planned.

Tomorrow’s another day and I can get the work done then – that’s what I tell myself anyway!

Staffordshire has many hidden treasures within it, with Stoke only taking up the north-eastern section of the county. Within its borders, you are sure to find beautiful sights and places to visit no matter what.

Whether you want a day out at the races or a serene stroll through the countryside, Staffordshires got the perfect place for you and your friends.

Peak District National Park

One of the most beautiful parts of Staffordshire is the Peak District. The national park has many great walking routes and sights to see throughout its 555 square miles. The peak district borders Staffordshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, and Greater Manchester.

Possibly the most well-known parts of Staffordshires area of the Peak District is the Roaches. The Roaches is home to a distinct rock formation that can be used for many rock climbing activities. The Roaches also offers many walking routes with views of the serene countryside.

Due to its remote location, the peak district can be tricky to get to without a car. However you can get there by train and bus, so is still very much accessible to university students.

It’s a must-see location and a great way to bond with your friends and get some exercise during the warmer months.

Gladstone Pottery Museum

You can’t live in a city without fully immersing yourself in its history and culture. Staffordshire, and mainly Stoke-on-Trent, was once thriving with its mining and pottery history. Many of the key pottery outlets are still open today and offer many experiences and tours for you to take part in.

Gladstone Pottery Museum is based in Stoke-on-Trent making it super easy for Staffordshire University and Keele University students to get to. It is the typical style factory that would have been bustling in the 18th and 19th centuries during the Industrial Revolution. You can learn more about pottery and the process it takes to make your dinner plate, and can even have a go at making your own.

Anyone else feel the need to recreate the pottery scene with Ghost now?

Snowdome

Located in Tamworth, the Snowdome is the perfect spot for any winter sports lover. Hosting a multi-ring ice rink, a real snow slope for skiing and snowboarding, as well as an indoor swimming pool and gym.

It is situated right next to Tamworth Football Club, Tamworth Castle, and Tamworths main retail park. This makes it a good location for a day trip with lots of activities suitable for everyone.

Once again, you can get to Tamworth by train or bus quite easily from the nearby Stoke Train Station. With your uni accommodation right next to the train station, traveling couldn’t be any easier.

Uttoxeter Racecourse

If you want a taste of class and sophistication, Uttoxeter Racecourse is the place for you. With regular horse racing events taking place throughout the year, you can dress up and maybe make a few quid along the way.

You can get to the racecourse easily via train and bus, with them running regularly from Stoke-On-Trent. The short journey won’t take too long before you can fully immerse yourself in the fun that horse racing offers.

This makes a great activity for a special occasion such as a birthday or an after assignment celebration.

Alton Towers

If you knew anything about Stoke-on-Trent before coming to University here, you would know its close proximity to Alton Towers. Possibly one of Staffordshires biggest tourist attractions, Alton Towers is one of the UK’s biggest theme parks.

Alton Towers can be found in the small town of Alton in Staffordshire and is possibly one of the easiest attractions to get to from Stoke Station. You can catch a bus direct to Alton Towers’s entrance from Stoke station. These buses run regularly throughout the day so you can enjoy the adrenaline rush that Alton Towers supplies whenever you want to.

The park hosts more than just it’s famous rollercoasters, with Alton Towers being a hotel, spa, mini-golf, and swimming centre as well. It’s a go-to place for most Staffordshires residents when they need a little fun injected into their day.

Although it may be one of the more expensive days out, Alton Towers usually has 2 for 1 voucher and student discounts available making it about $20 per person for a full day out. Not too bad if you ask me!

Historic Manors and Houses

Now I know what you’re thinking, this isn’t a place – nor does it sound like a great place for us to go. But trust me, historic houses and Manors makes a great day out. Whether you’re all about getting the perfect picture for the gram or want to actually learn about the history behind these buildings. They make a great place to go hang out with friends and explore the local area.

Luckily there’s loads of these historic building scattered across Staffordshire, so there’s plenty for you to choose from for your next day out. We’ve made a list of some of our favourites for you to visit below:

If you didn’t grow up in Stoke the accent and lingo may be hard to understand at first, especially if you come from outside of the West Midlands.

The potteries dialect is pretty much exclusive to Stoke-On-Trent. So even if you live in South Staffordshire the move to the north can leave you confused.

Luckily the people are pretty friendly and may have a little chuckle at your confusion before explaining themselves in the Queens English.

To avoid embarrassment, try to familiarise yourself with the terms below.

Ay up, ow at, orate? – Hello, how are you, you okay?

A common greeting in Stoke will be some variation of the above. “Ay up” is the most common, followed by “orate”. “Ow at” is the least common greeting and is often left out of the saying by younger stokies. 

Respond with: “I’m good thanks, how are you?” or “Hiya, mate”

An all – As well

This will probably be said by one of your friends after a bad day. When life keeps throwing a spanner in the works or when you actually tried to do well on an assignment, you need to have a little moan.

E.g. “I got a 2:2, I tried really hard on that essay an all”

Respond with: Sympathy, life is clearly testing them at the moment.

Proper narky – Very moody

Is your friend arguing with her boyfriend? Your stokie housemates may describe him as being “proper narky”. This basically translates to “very moody”. If someones annoyed with your actions and they are being a bit snappy – they’re being proper narky.

Respond with: “He needs to grow up”

Nesh – Cold

You may be asked if it’s nesh outside by your flatmate after returning from a morning lecture. This basically is a substitute for “cold” – were not sure why we need another word for cold either, but we have one.

Respond with: “Yeah, you’ll need your big coat on today”

Wom – Home

This is a fun one to use when you’re back home with your family. Although it may upset your mum for you to call uni digs in Stoke your home instead of your childhood house.

You might get asked “you going wom for chrimbo” by your flatmates the week before the Christmas break.

Respond with: “Yeah, I’m going back on Friday”

Snapping – Food

After a long day at uni, you may be invited to go and get some snapping in town. Don’t worry, it’s nothing dodgy. They just want to know if you want to get some food in town.

Respond with: “Yes, I heard The Quarter has a good deal on at the moment” or if your student loans running a bit low “I’m good thanks, I’ve got leftover chilli that needs eating tonight” might be a more sensible response.

Duck/Shug – term of endearment similar to dear/love

Whether it’s your lecturer or the old man who works at the oatcake shop, expect to be called “Duck” or “Shug” during your time in Stoke. This is the most ordinary phrase you may encounter as it is used the same way “dear” or “love” is in the rest of the UK.

Respond with: This should give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside – it’s a sign you have been welcomed into Stoke-On-Trent from the local community!

Moving into your student house is an exciting moment in any student’s life. No longer are you restricted to the rules that come with student halls. However, this excitement can quickly turn to fear as you and your housemates settle down to discuss the bills.

Whether it’s left to one person or a group effort to get them set-up and paid every month, the task can be confusing and time-consuming, to say the least. Luckily, we’re here to help. Here are some of our top tips and tricks for household bills to make your life a little easier.

First things first, what bills will you need to set up?

  • Broadband & TV license 
  • TV License 
  • Gas and Electricity
  • Water and Sewage
  • Contents Insurance
  • Student Council Tax

To some, that may seem like a lot. However, the average cost of household bills comes to just $37 per month. In most cases, a direct debit can be set-up so you won’t need to worry about remembering to pay each month. Once they’re set up, it’s plain sailing – it’s just setting them up that’s the issue!

Check to ensure that your rent doesn’t cover your bills for you. Some landlords and companies (including us) will include bills with the rent to make life a little easier for students.

For those inexperienced with utilities and how to set them up, it can be a daunting task. Doing your research will help massively to ensure you get the best deal and more importantly, you know what you actually need. Companies may try to up-sell packages and deals leaving you paying much more than you need to. Don’t be afraid to ask your parents about it, they’ve spent the majority of their lives paying bills so will have plenty of wisdom to pass down to you.

Let’s break down each utility and how to set them up…

Broadband and TV

Possibly the most important utility for students is broadband. You’ll want to ensure you get broadband that’s fast enough to support everyone’s internet usage in the house. Whether it’s for writing essays, scrolling through social media, or late-night gaming.

Broadband can take a few weeks to set up so you may want to consider doing this before you move in, otherwise, your first few weeks at uni could be eating into your phone’s data.

I’ve included TV as they often come in a package together for a good deal. TV is definitely not needed for everyone, but if you want more than the free channels finding a good broadband and TV package is essential. Just don’t forget the TV license.

TV License

If you have a TV in your house or plan on watching BBC iplayer from your laptop, you must get a TV license. This can be done online, so is a hassle-free process. Only one person from the house needs to get one for the whole house to be covered, so can simply split the price to make it more affordable.

You are bound to receive letters from the TV licensing company, as long as you have a TV license you don’t have to worry about this. Similarly, if no one in the house watches TV there’s no need to worry about getting one or the letters.

Top Tip: Choose to have your license for the number of months you’ll be living in the house rather than the entire year. This will save you a little bit of money, as most student tenancy agreements last for around 9 months rather than 12.

Gas and Electricity

Gas and electricity are probably the most difficult to set-up, due to the confusing lingo and lengthy phone calls. When you move in make sure you check the meters and jot down the readings so you are charged the gas and electricity you use and not estimates.

Make sure to compare energy companies to find the cheapest tariff, as sticking with the same company may seem like the easiest option but can often be costing you more.

Water and Sewage

Water and sewage are done by your regional company, and will either be on a tariff or have a water meter. Although, the norm is a tariff.

This again is quite simple to set up and you will just have to get in contact with the company for your region.

The water and sewage costs are usually one of the lowest costs so if it seems expensive, double-check the company and what they are supplying.

Contents Insurance

Whether you get contents insurance or not is a personal choice, however, it is highly recommended to protect your valuable items.

Student houses are well-known by many criminals and are often prime targets for theft, especially during the holidays.

Contents insurance will protect against theft and damage to your valuables and will give you peace of mind when you’re away from home.

Council Tax

Full-time students will not have to pay council tax, however do need to apply for an exemption. This can be done online fairly quickly.

If you are not a full-time student, you will have to pay council tax, even if the rest of your household is exempt.

How to pay?

Now you know which bills need to be set-up and how to do it, how do you pay for them?

Most of the utility bills offer a direct debit to be taken each month. This is the best option for students, as it ensures you don’t forget to pay each month. 

Most choose to set up a joint bank account, this is typically set up in one person’s name and acts as a safe place for everyone to deposit money into. This ensures that the money can’t be spent accidentally by the account holder as it is separate from their account.

Alternatively, you can get apps that do the same thing. However, with these apps, you will often be overcharged and have to pay a fee. Therefore, we recommend sorting the bills between yourselves to ensure you don’t pay more than is necessary.

After your first year at University, you tend to realize that you brought a lot of things with you that you didn’t need, or the more obvious, what you didn’t bring.

Most people will learn that you don’t need to bring everything with you, whilst others will keep making the same mistakes year in and year out. Don’t be that person. You know, the one who brings an iron for it to sit in a cupboard unused until it comes to move-out day. Don’t be them.

We’ve compiled this list of the things you should be bringing to uni and the things that can stay at home – or the shop!

Do – Bring Your Stationary

An essential for university, yet always seems to be left out of the checklist. Stationary. Now don’t get me wrong, you can definitely go overboard on stationary. We’ve all been there, a folder for each unit, a million polly pockets ready to be filled with print-offs and notes – but alas, never to be used.

However, don’t forget the essentials. I have known a few people turn up to lectures without a pen. A pack of pens, a notepad, and a highlighter should be enough for most. If your a stationary enthusiast your list may be a bit longer, but as long as you have the essentials for your first week you should be okay.

After all, your moving to a new city not the middle of nowhere, if you forget anything the uni shop or WHSmiths is only a short distance away.

Don’t – Buy Your Food Shop Before You Get There

Fitting all of your belongings into a car and having room for you and your parents can be tricky, to say the least. What you don’t want to do is make it harder. Leave the food shop after you’ve moved in.

By all means, take some snacks for the journey and tea bags and milk for when you first arrive but squeezing yourself in between your frozen food and cupboard items is rather unnecessary.

Doing your food shopping once you’ve got there not only saves yourself a room in the car but also allows you to get better acquainted with your new surroundings.

Do – Bring Your Speaker

Whether your hosting pre’s or need some calm music whilst you’re studying, you’d be surprised at how often you reach for your speaker whilst at uni.

Most situations are okay with headphones or playing from your phone, but you’re sure to notice the difference a speaker can make.

If no one else in the house has one you are sure to get preferential treatment, everyone will be wanting to share with you for speaker privileges!

Don’t – Bring Your Whole Wardrobe

We know it may be tempting, but taking all of your clothes to uni is highly impractical. You are guaranteed to have less space than your own bedroom, and storage needs to be prioritized to avoid tripping over boxes for a year.

Summer clothes won’t be needed in your first term, so leave these at home till the warmer months come around. When you go home for the holidays you can easily switch over certain items that you haven’t been wearing for something you’ll be more likely to wear.

Not to mention, with your student loan in your bank account you are sure to buy a new wardrobe whilst as uni.

The best option is to take versatile items that you can mix and match with other items, as well as taking a few options for different situations – think interviews, clubbing, duvet days, etc.

Do – Bring Bedding And Bedroom Decorations

A new city, house, and housemates can easily make you feel homesick and pining for your home comforts. An easy way to make your uni accommodation feel more homely is to decorate it with photographs, fairy lights, and bright colors – it’s not rare for uni homes to be lacking in color or worse, covered in primary colors.

You can disguise this by plastering your wall with photos of you and your friends, and cool prints from charity shops or the fresher’s fair. Bedding with soft cushions and fluffy blankets will also help a LOT more than you realize when you come home after a long day and need to relax.

Don’t – Buy All Of Your Cooking Equipment

Not to say you shouldn’t buy some kitchen items before you arrive at uni, but some things you just don’t need more than one of in a single house. Oven gloves, cheese grater, and in some cases even pots and pans are all things that could be bought as a collective rather than everyone bringing their own.

Cupboard space is limited in most uni kitchens so sharing certain items will help save money and space. Other kitchen items such as kettles and toasters may be included in your student home, but you may have to supply these yourself. Once again, 4 kettles can be a little overkill, so split the cost and buy as a collective.

Do – Bring An Extension Lead

When I tell you plug sockets in useful places is a rarity, I mean it. Not to mention the complete lack of plugs in many cases. An extension lead, in my opinion, is essential for all homes. I’m sure you will share this opinion after a week at university.

Unplugging and replugging in your phone charger, laptop charger, hair tools, and other electrical’s can get rather annoying. Invest in a lead with at a minimum of 4 sockets, and trust me, you won’t regret it.

Don’t – Bring Candles

Almost all student homes will have a strict no candle policy – yes, even privately rented ones. There’s something about students and flames that just don’t mix well.

Save the effort of lugging your candles over to your new uni home and opt for diffusers or air fresheners instead. Sure, they don’t have the same ambiance and relaxing flicker as candles, but they’ll ensure your room always smells fresh.

Do – A USB/Hard drive

If you take any advice from this list, please buy a USB or hard drive to back up your assignments – I’m begging you. I know too many people who have had to restart their assignments the night before the due date because of technical problems.

Having your assignment backed up on a USB will also mean you can easily work on it at home and at uni. Whether you have a spare half an hour in between lectures or feel like staying behind yet haven’t taken your laptop with you, plug in your USB and carry on where you left off.

Don’t – An Iron

Now, I’m going to strictly advise you not to listen to your mum for this one. You do NOT need an iron at university. You won’t use it, and if you need one I can promise someone else will either have one or offer up their hair straighteners as a solution.

Unless you’re at a university that requires you to wear a suit to every lecture (yes, they do exist) then an iron is completely unnecessary. 


If you’re a returning student, these points should resonate with you and feel all but too familiar. For any freshers, this will have been what I can only describe as an eye-opening experience – you have a lot to learn.

However, at least now you know what you should and shouldn’t be bringing to uni. This isn’t an extensive list of course, but more of things you have forgotten or should probably take out of your suitcase.

You’ll be surprised as to how many famous people have links to the city of Stoke-On-Trent. Whether they were born and raised in the city or called Stoke home for a few years of their life.

The relatively small city has been home to a wide variety of well-known people throughout the years. Knowing you are walking the same streets as some familiar faces may help you feel more at home in your University’s city.

Alternatively, it makes a great conversation starter on freshers week or if you are ever in need of some Stoke-On-Trent knowledge at your local’s pub quiz.

Robbie Williams – Singer

Arguably the most prominent figure to emerge from Stoke-On-Trent, Robbie Williams grew up in Burslem before skyrocketing to fame in the 90’s boyband Take That.

He talks fondly of the city regularly during interviews and has most recently helped to design the kit for his local team, Port Vale.

The pub in which he grew up lies vacant on Burslem’s high street, yet has a touching tribute to the star and his legacy.

Denise Coates – Bet365 CEO

Named the UK’s second wealthiest woman in 2020, Denise Coates currently has a net worth of $6.5 billion thanks to her gambling business Bet365.

Although only the second wealthiest woman, Coates became the highest-paid British CEO in 2019 after paying herself a whopping $423 million.

Bet365’s HQ is set up on the Festival Park site and can be seen as you leave the A500 towards Hanley. She is adamant that the Head Quarters is kept in her hometown of Stoke and aims to recruit local people as a way to give back to the city.

Wes Nelson – Love Island Star

Wes Nelson shot to fame on ITV’s ‘Love Island’ in 2018 and has since gone on to be a successful TV personality and musician.

The star was born and raised in Newcastle-Under-Lyme before moving down south after his success on multiple reality shows.

After showing off his singing abilities on ‘X Factor: Celebrity’ in 2019, Wes has had success with songs such as ‘See Nobody’ which hit the UK’s #1 spot in 2020.

Rachel Shenton – Actress

Academy award-winning actress Rachel Shenton may not be a household name yet but she certainly is in Stoke.

You may have seen her as Mitzee Minniver in TV soap ‘Hollyoaks’ or in Oscar award-winning film ‘The Silent Child’.

Sir Stanley Matthews – Footballer

Stoke has a great history with football, with the wizard of the wing being born in the city. If you wander around you are sure to see statues of the footballing legend as well as streets and buildings named after him.

He is often regarded as one of the best players in the game, as he famously played for England and his home club Stoke City.

Sir Stanley was born and raised in Stoke and eventually died in the neighbouring town of Newcastle-Under-Lyme in 2000.

Giles Wood – Gogglebox Star

After 2020 we thought we would be immune to surprises, however, 2021 uncovered that posh boy Giles Wood is actually from Stoke-On-Trent.

Well-known for his appearance on Channel 4’s Gogglebox, it has always been assumed that he grew up near his residence in Wiltshire.

He may lack the accent, but if you watch the show carefully you might hear him talk about the city and his experience living here.

Eddie Hall – World’s Strongest Man

The former professional strongman was born in the bordering town of Newcastle-Under-Lyme and is often spotted in and around the city.

On top of winning the world’s strongest man competition in 2017, Eddie has made a name for himself as a TV personality starring in shows such as ‘Eddie Eats America’.

Sir Reginald Mitchell – Inventor of the Spitfire

Credited as the inventor of the WW2 fighter plane the spitfire, Sir Reginald Mitchell has become Stoke’s war hero.

If you have enrolled for a history degree I’m sure your lecturer will name drop him at some point during your studies. It’s a right of passage for all history-loving stokies. 

Similar to Sir Stanley Matthews, there are many nods to Sir Reginald Mitchell around Stoke, with Hanley’s Wetherspoons being named after him.

Phil Taylor – Darts Player

Another famous face to emerge from Burslem, is Phil ‘the power’ Taylor. He has secured wins on 214 professional tournaments, with 85 major titles and 16 world championships.

The dartsmen is considered one if the best, if not the best, darts player of all time.

Stoke has produced multiple professional darts players, with the city being known as the unofficial darting capital of the world.

Honourable Mentions

We could go on forever and talk about the famous faces of Stoke, but we don’t want to bore you.

Here are some honourable mentions that didn’t make the shortlist:

  • Edward Smith – Captain of the Titanic 
  • Lemmy – Frontman of Motorhead 
  • Gordon Banks – Footballer 
  • Eric Bristow – Darts Player 
  • Slash – Frontman of Guns’n’Roses
  • John Caudwell – Founder of Phones4u
  • Arnold Bennett – Novelist 
  • Curtis & AJ Pritchard – TV personalities
  • Anthea Turner – Radio and TV host

Moving to another city can be overwhelming in many ways. Although being away from your friends and family can be tough, not knowing where to go to meet new people or to take your mind off of the stress of uni work can be worse.

All of our student accommodation in Shelton are based within walking distance of the university campus to allow for a great work-study lifestyle. However, our student houses are also within walking distance to many bars, cafes, activities, and more.

We’ve calculated an estimated time of how long it’ll take you to get to each destination so you know exactly how far you’ll be walking.

Staffordshire University Campus – 3-minute walk (230 yards)

You’ll be able to find some of the best food and activities on your university campus from pop-up events to those held by groups and societies. We’d recommend throwing yourself into all that your Uni has to offer as your three years spent there will fly by. These activities will also be a great place to meet and mingle with new people with similar interests.

Staffordshire University Stoke Film Theatre – 4 minutes walk (290 yards)

If you are a film enthusiast, you’ll be spending most of your time at the Universities Film Theatre. Showing only the best new, indie and foreign films produced by established and up-and-coming directors alike. The best part? No ads or trailers before your film! Your popcorn should last longer than the first 5-minutes now.

Train Station – 6-minutes walk (0.3 miles)

Travelling by train is a great way to get around in an environmentally friendly manner. There are loads of places in and out of Staffordshire to explore via Stoke station so no need to bring your car.

Now I know what you are thinking – a train station isn’t exactly a place of interest. However, Stoke station has great links to other major cities in the UK, so whether you want a shopping day in the capital or just visit home for the weekend you’re covered.

Based at Stoke Station is a small bus station with regular buses going to Alton Towers, which is perfect for any thrill-seekers. Vouchers (such as 2 for 1) can be found on student essentials such as hand soap and Dairy Milk share bags, which makes the trip more affordable for those on a budget. It is one of Staffordshire’s biggest attractions, and with a bus practically leaving from your front door there is no reason to miss out on the trip.

Hanley Park – 9 minutes walk (0.4 miles)

Perfect for picnics in summer or your daily run, Hanley Park is one of the most beautiful places in Shelton. Take a break from the hectic lifestyle that usually accompanies university and explore the different areas of the park. There are fabulous flower displays, water features, and plenty of benches you can take a break on. It is situated right next to Staffordshire University’s campus so is the perfect place to have your lunch break and meet with friends after a lecture.

Emma Bridgewater 19 minute walk (0.9 miles)

If any of you know the history of Stoke then you’ll know pottery was and still is a big part of the cities culture. Emma Bridgewater’s factory shop is based just 0.9 miles away from your student homes and offers a great range of factory-priced item which would make great gifts for yourself or someone special.

Emma Bridgewater also offers factory tours and a chance to paint your own pottery, which makes a great day out if you need some time away from electronics. For an extra treat, why not book a slot for their breakfast or afternoon tea.

Fenton Manor Sports Complex – 24 minutes walk (1.1 miles)

If you want to add some more activities to your schedule, Fenton Manor Sports Complex is just a 24-minute walk away from your student home. Great for those wanting to get into a fitness regime or looking to meet some new people with similar interests. There’s everything you could possibly need, such as netball courts, football pitches, fitness classes, swimming pools, and more.

Hanley Bus Station – 27 minutes walk (1.2 miles)

A 30-minute walk to the bus station sounds worse than it actually is, and once you’re there you can get practically anywhere in the Stoke-On-Trent area including Newcastle-Under-Lyme and Staffordshire Moorlands.

From here you can get on the 18 to Leek and enjoy the quaint market town or the 108 to Trentham, where you can hang out with monkeys at Trentham Monkey Forest before picking up a coffee and some new plants for your uni room in Trentham Garden Centre.

Potteries Shopping Centre – 34 minutes walk (1.5 miles)

If you don’t fancy the 30-minute walk to the city centre then there will be a bus you can hop on and off to get there. However, on a sunny day, a nice walk to the city centre to do some shopping at the Potteries Centre and brunch in one of Stokes independent cafes is a great stress reliever. Knowing a good route there and back could also save you the expense of a taxi after a night out too! 

The Hive offers tons of big-name restaurants such as Nandos and Chiquitos, but if you really want the Stoke experience I’d recommend taking a trip down Piccadilly Street. Some of Stokes best independent restaurants and cafes can be found down here such as Klay Pizzeria, The Slamwich Club, and The Quarter to name a few.

One of the best parts of being a student is the discounts you can get in most stores and restaurants. Not only does it help to manage your expenses but it also helps to meet new people and form lifelong friendships and connections.

Most people know about the big brands and retailers that offer student discounts, which can be found on student apps such as Uni Days and My Student Beans. However, lots of independent shops and cafes offer student discounts which you may not be aware of.

Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of all the best places in Staffordshire that are a short journey from your student accommodation in Stoke-on-Trent to help you explore whilst on your university journey.

Flip Out Stone

Need a new fun activity for you and your friends? Why not visit Flip Out in Stone, a huge trampoline park suitable for all ages.

The trampoline park hosts a variety of events from fun daily bounces to exercise classes and even a disco-style bounce session in the evenings.

It’s a great choice if you’re looking to relax after a hard day or simply improve your fitness. The disco bounce sessions are great for exam season when you need to let loose but can’t afford another late night, or worse, wake-up hungover.

Not only is this a fun way to de-stress you can get 10% off with your student card.

The Clubhouse Stoke

Based in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, The Clubhouse has a range of activities which are perfect for students.

If mini-golf, table tennis, and cocktails are your vibe or you’d rather gaming tournaments, beer pong, milkshakes, and pizza, The Clubhouse will be a great hang-out spot for you and your friends. 

Every Thursday is student night at The Clubhouse, which gives you 20% off drinks as well as a great pre-drinks setting before you hit the bar and clubs. Mini-golf has 25% off all day every day, which makes the setting even more affordable.

Ninja Warrior UK

Have you seen the TV show and thought you could give it a go? The official Ninja Warrior assault course is located in Hanley, right opposite the big Tesco – perfect for a fun activity before your food shop.

You can get 10% off of your admission with a valid student ID, so if you want to see if you can make it up the warped wall why not drop in. Perfect for solo students or large groups alike.

Escape Room Stoke

If you haven’t done an escape room at this point have you really lived? No matter if you’re studying at Staffordshire University or Keele University, there is a local escape room for you so you can finally cross it off of your bucket list.

There is a room to suit everybody, whether you’re into murder mysteries or are a Harry Potter mega-fan. What better way to bond with your housemates than be locked in a room for an hour? You might even settle the debate to who is the smartest after all.

There are tons of other opportunities to make memories when you’re on a budget. A great piece of advice would be to always enquire if the venue has a student discount upon booking or in advance, as not everywhere will make it obvious. If you don’t ask, you don’t get it!

Renting your student accommodation for the first time can be a daunting experience. Being away from your parent’s advice and faced with pressurising estate agents is enough to make you surrender and pay for an overpriced house that is plagued with problems.

Luckily, you’ve landed on our guide to help talk you through the process of renting your first student home as well as our top tips for finding the best house for you.

Step 1: Make the important decisions before house hunting

It’s all well and good finding your dream student house and going for a viewing, but not having a budget, housemates, and all other factors considered will be detrimental to a) your chance of securing the dream house and b) how you live next year.

TOP TIP: Ensure you have found a good group of people to live with – this includes considering different lifestyles, cleanliness, and any possible personality clashes.

We have seen time and time again groups securing houses early in the year fall out by the time it comes to living together. It’s important to remember that there are enough student houses to go around. I know people who have signed leases a couple of weeks before term starts (although I wouldn’t recommend this!).

In the new year, you should have a clearer picture of who you will want to live with and that leads us to the budget. Not everyone will have the same priorities – some will want the cheapest place available, whereas others may prioritise living space. Finding a budget that fits everyone’s needs will allow you to begin the search. Knowing everyone is happy with the price, space, and the location is important in finding your student home.

Step 2: Begin the search

The next step is finding a student home – not as daunting as it sounds I promise!

Firstly, decide what agents you want to go with. We’re a bit biased here as we truly believe we give the best student housing service in Staffordshire. But if you’re in another part of the country, finding a good housing service is crucial.

Estate agents offer student homes, however, can typically be pushy and act as the middleman between students and landlords. This can cause complications down the line, especially if you get a not-so-caring landlord and a dodgy house complete with a broken boiler and moldy walls.

Top Tip: Look for recommendations from your fellow students as to who provides a good service. It may take some digging but Facebook groups and Google reviews are your friends.

Once you’ve found your agent, tell them your requirements or ask to see a list of their houses available. Don’t waste your time doing viewings for houses that don’t meet your requirements. After you’ve found a house, book a viewing and make sure everyone is able to attend. This will help to avoid missing out or signing for a house that not everyone is happy with.

At the viewing lookout for any minor problems such as dampness or mould. You can even ask the current tenants about their experience if they are around. Don’t be afraid to ask the lettings agent what is included with the house, along with any other questions regarding bills and obligations you may have as a tenant (maintaining the garden etc.).

After the viewing, the agent will ask whether you are wanting to sign for the house and put down the deposit. Don’t be afraid to say no at this point if you are unsure. Be aware though that the house may no longer be available the next time you enquire.

Step 3: The paperwork

Once you have agreed to rent the house, you will be required to fill out paperwork, provide documentation, and a deposit. All tenants must complete this paperwork within a set time limit in order to secure the house. Some information is needed from your parents, so it is advised to get this done ASAP.

Top Tip: Actually read your tenancy agreement, it is important to know your rights as well as what you are liable for. Keep a copy throughout the tenancy to refer back to should you experience any issues.

At this point, you will also need to pay a deposit. At the end of the tenancy, your deposit will be returned should the property be left in a good condition. Your deposit must be registered to a government-backed scheme within 30 days of being paid, and you should be notified about this.

Expect one month’s rent to be taken in advance by the agents. This will cover your first month in the property and is a normal procedure to secure the property.

Voila

You have then secured your student accommodation ready for your next year at University.

Now all you have to figure out is how to make it feel like home!