Why rent digs as a student?
Guest post by Conor Clancy – Welfare Officer Trinity College Students’ Union.
When we mention digs at home parents often respond with nostalgia about their own or their friend’s college days. For the current generation of college-goers, it seems, digs are still considered to be somewhat stuck in the past. Demand for accommodation in the bigger cities, however, is making this an option again and the conversation is opening up about what digs are and what they offer.
What are digs?
Diggs fall under the government’s Rent-A-Room Scheme, which entitles the renter to a €12,000 tax break on rented rooms. Because it’s a different service to single-unit private rentals such as houses or apartments or multiple occupant units, in which all rooms in a property are rented to tenants, they are typically cheaper than accommodation in the private rental sector.
At Trinity College Students’ Union we advise prices of between €80 and €120 per week depending on local amenities and transport routes to college. Things that you can take into account with costs are the bed (double or single), the size of the room, transport routes.
Bang for your buck
Aside from the cost, digs offer a safe base in a new locality. The occupant/owner can offer advice on the local area and help the student get to know the city. While this is particularly handy for international students getting to know Ireland (we have had landlords helping international students to learn Gaeilge), I know from first hand experience of moving from Limerick County to Dublin City that changing your environment within the country and living on your own for the first time can also be a culture shock. It’s something that many students underestimate and something students’ unions, College officials and student residences work to alleviate. It’s also something digs can help with.
Students should expect a good standard of amenities from digs, including use of a kitchen facility along with washing facilities, a furnished room, logs of rent kept in a rent book, internet connection, a key to the property and access to local transport routes to link with your college. You should expect to be allowed to have a friend over but need to respect the landlord with regards to noise and time. We generally advise a 7 day rather than 5 day arrangement as this allows you to get involved in college life at the weekend. While a lease agreement does not apply to the Rent-a-Room Scheme, you can still put together a written agreement with your landlord on agreed terms which can cover anything from having friends over to access to the kitchen. For more information on the legalities of digs rentals, you can visit citizensinformation.ie or your students’ union website.
Often it can take a year to get your head around living in a new city, particularly if this means figuring out a complicated rental market. In many cases digs help students to figure the place out, get settled and then hunt for a more permanent place after their first year. We’ve had positive feedback from both students and renters. It is a great option to try for one year and then move for your following years.
With purpose-built student accommodation still a while down the line, this may be the best option in the meantime for affordable and safe accommodation. Your best bet is to get in contact with your students’ union or accommodation offices and see what digs they can connect you with. You can also try property websites that advertise digs.
There is a worry that living in digs will make it harder to connect to college life. It does mean you can’t host all night parties but you can still go to them somewhere else. That means getting involved in societies, going to students’ union events and getting involved with your course. If you get into trouble at any point during college contact your students’ union.