Review: Student living location – Kenton (by Ryan Elliott)

Kenton. A popular place of living for those attending the University of Westminster. Mainly due to the fact that the University itself is a stone’s throw away. But how is Kenton as an area? How are the transport links? What about the shops? I investigated.

Transport links

Kenton itself has a train station which connects to the Bakerloo line and the London Overground. Northwick Park, which runs on the Metropolitan line is also only a couple of minutes away in terms of walking distance, and you can access central London in under half an hour quite easily. In terms of getting around, it is a pretty handy location. The bus links are also good for getting around the local area, but night buses from central are limited in terms of those that run directly into Kenton. This can be a problem if you’re particularly social and outgoing.

Rating: 7/10 

Area prosperity

Unfortunately, Kenton isn’t that great of an area in terms of prosperity. The high street is flooded with cheap takeaways, newsagents and a couple of travel agents. There is also much work than could be done to the buildings, some of which look like they’re on the verge of falling apart. It’s not exactly a hotbed of tourists, let’s just leave it like that.

Rating: 3/10

Night life

For students, there is practically no night life in Kenton. Though there are one or two bars, they’re usually empty, and there isn’t a sniff of a student night or student discount. Harrow is a much better alternative, and within a 15 minute walking distance, meaning it is easy to get there and back.

Rating: 1/10

Range of shops

There is only one supermarket in Kenton – Sainsbury’s. Though this means you have good access to food supplies, it also means you’re paying higher prices than you would in most other big supermarkets. Shop wisely, however, and it isn’t that great of an issue! In terms of retail, the range is incredibly poor. You could count the big retailers in Kenton on your hand, and for any sort of retail therapy you’d be better off heading straight into Central London.

Rating: 4/10

Living costs

Due to the area not being overwhelmingly prosperous, the flats and houses are a little cheaper than surrounding areas such as Harrow. Though I wouldn’t expect to be staying in the Ritz, staying in Kenton means cheaper rent and not having to commute to University. Excellent for money saving!

Rating: 9/10

Conclusive comments

24/50 doesn’t sound too flattering, I’ll be honest. But if you’re a student, you can’t expect anything too glamorous anyway. The University is on your doorstep, Harrow is nearby, and you have more than adequate transport facilities. I would recommend London, because we’re students, and most of us are skint. Save your money and live somewhere more glamorous when you’ve got that degree! Kenton certainly has my approval.

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Student Tenancy Agreements Are Outrageous – by Ryan Elliott

It is quite literally a case of robbery. Stealing from the poor, giving to the rich. £155 a week is what I pay for my single bed and bathroom as a student in London, and I’m not even in central. Fair enough, the average price for student halls in this country is just below £110 a week, and I do get all the opportunity that comes with living in the capital. The price bothers me, but not as much as the tenancy that I, along with thousands of other students,  had to sign.

I’d like to remind you all that we’re students. We don’t have any money. For most individuals at my University, their student loan doesn’t actually cover their rent, meaning they have to pay the excess on top of living costs.

The tenancy we sign is for 38 weeks (there is no alternative). Now, I finish University officially on April the 2nd, when I will in fact be paying for a flat I don’t need until July, costing me over £1,400 extra. Scandalous.

Does a flexible tenancy just not seem more logical and more fair? How about taking an extra ten minutes with each student to plan when they’ll need the room up to? It isn’t rocket science. I’ll tell you why it won’t happen, however. Money and greed. People don’t seem to understand that students don’t have money. Most people are here to get a degree which will enable them to earn more money. We’ve had every last penny squeezed out of us, and we’ll spend a good chunk of our lives trying to pay it all off, for the benefit of those at the top end.

I’m not saying we need to cause a riot and bring London to a halt. I’m simply suggesting that the relevant parties should bring this matter to discussion, as it is killing us students financially.

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Super Scrimping – Saving As A Student List, by Ryan Elliott

Aside from the odd few students with bottomless funds thanks to mummy and daddy’s bank account, the chances are, if you’re based in London, you’re skint.

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Being a student in the capital is financially challenging. Socialising, eating well and paying for transport on a standard £60-a-week budget is hard, but it is do-able. I’ve done it for 6 months now, and here’s how:

PLAN THE WEEK’S MEALS IN ADVANCE

This sounds really boring, but it’s effective. Plan what you need to buy for the week before you head out. This is far cheaper than going to the supermarket three times a week and buying random foods.

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ALWAYS OPT TO BUY THE PRODUCT ON OFFER

There’s a fine balance between quality and price in supermarkets. When looking for a specific item (say, pasta) always look for a discounted product. Chances are, there’ll be one, and if you’re careful enough you can get a week’s worth of food for £20 easily.

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PUT LIMITS ON THE GOOD STUFF

You DON’T have to go out more than once a week. If your friends go out, tag along on the cheapest night out. More than one takeaway a week is also unneccesary. If need be, limit yourself to one a week, and always look for student discounts, such as the 50% off offered by Dominos.

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DON’T TAKE YOUR DEBIT CARD ON A NIGHT OUT WITH YOU

Set your budget for the night. Work out how much you’ll need for drinks, entry and transport home. £20 is more than sufficient if you pick locations that offer discount drinks for students. If you take your card, you’ll probably end up spending extra on drinks you could do without.

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USE THE LAUNDRETTE EVERY OTHER WEEK – HAND WASH IF NEED BE

Student laundrettes tend to be horribly over priced, and you definitely don’t need to use them every week. If you’re desperate, try hand washing your clothes in a sink of hot water with some detergent. If you wring the clothes out immediately after washing them, and hang them in a dry place, they should dry fairly quickly too. By halving your trips to the laundrette, you’re halving the cost. This could save you up to £7 a week, which adds up nicely in the long run.

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ABUSE YOUR STUDENT STATUS- ALWAYS ASK ABOUT DISCOUNTS

If you’re unsure, just ask. Most companies in student-based areas will offer a student discount, whether that be retail, leisure or restaurants. Being a student is nothing to be ashamed of. People know you don’t have money to throw away!

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MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A STUDENT OYSTER CARD

Student Oyster cards almost half your travel costs in London, whether that be for single fares or your daily cap. They cost £10, and the process is pretty straightforward. In the long term, this will save you massive amounts of money, especially if you have to commute! You can apply for one by clicking HERE

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GET A PART TIME JOB!

You’re not kidding anyone if you think the student life is a particularly busy one. 15 hours a week at a local pub would do you absolutely no harm. Apply for part-time work in your local area, there’s always jobs going in London! This could bring in an extra £70 a week minimum, and your cost of living will be much more comfortable.

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SELL YOUR UNWANTED THINGS ON EBAY

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. It’s true! Clothes, books, games, anything. If it isn’t in use, it can go. You are literally making money for getting rid of things you no longer need. Make an Ebay account, list your items and post them off! A good haul of unwanted items could bring in an extra £100 plus.

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So there you have it. Simple, yet effective techniques. Stay disciplined with your money and you’ll not only scrape by, you’ll have money to spare. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself, it just means you won’t be crying on the phone to your parents when you’ve used up your overdraft and you only have a couple of tins of baked beans and some Uncle Ben’s rice in the cupboard. Be wise, but have fun!