With Ben already at uni and Cait due to follow in within the next couple of years, we know that student life has to be thrifty. It is a great time to foster independence and the importance of sticking to a budget. But at the same time, it seems to require a lot of expense and financial outlay. Tuition fees are the greatest expense but they are closely followed by the cost of keeping a house. Whether sharing or living alone in a house or flat, funding their living quarters can be one of the priciest aspects of being a student. For many young people, they have never had to shop for home items and so they are completely unaware of the price! This makes it difficult for them to identify what is extortionate and what is a good deal. It is also likely that they may not distinguish between what is an essential and what is really just a luxury. With a million and one other aspects of student life competing for their attention, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. But help is at hand. With a bit of frugality and forward-thinking, you can create a student flat that is high on comfort but low on price.
Start by stripping back to basics. Some student flats already have basic furniture, but don’t panic if not. Simply apply the three principles of basic living: somewhere to sleep, somewhere to sit, and somewhere to eat. With these in mind, you can shop for items in a clear and methodical way. With those three items, you can create a pleasant and functional living space. Beds are often provided but can also be picked up second hand. A fresh, vibrant duvet cover can add colour to the room without cluttering it in the way that ornaments or trinkets might. Somewhere to sit need not be a large or expensive sofa. A comfy chair or even a beanbag can be a great modern substitute. With an extra throw and some cushions, it can become a cosy place to read, unwind, and revise. Dining tables are an essential if you want to encourage students to eat well. There will be many times when a snack is grabbed on the go or on route to lectures. But sitting down to an evening meal that they have prepared themselves is a great routine to get into. A dining table can also double up as a desk or workspace if need be.
Once the basics are taken care of, turning a house into a home is all in the detail. There may not be space for lots of extra items, but a few photographs of family and friends can really do the trick. They can be framed in a visible place as a pick-me-up or arranged in a crazy collage on the wall. They always help to ease feelings of isolation and make students feel grounded and connected to home. Home fragrances and room sprays are also a great way to make a flat feel fresh and spacious. Affordable rugs can be added to floors that have seen better days too. With a few items that achieve maximum impact with minimum effort, you can create a flat that is not merely a means to an end but a genuine home from home.