Housing

1 September 2017

How to manage your budget when you go into digs

Your student days are when you learn to stand on your own two feet: now you are an adult and take on responsibility for your own life, your education and your future. For many people, their time as a student is also when they leave their parents' home (temporarily) to go into digs in the city where they are studying. This move not only comes brings with it a whole lot of new-found freedom, but is also a first lesson in budget management. Because how much does student accommodation cost? How much money do you need to survive and how do you manage your budget? This summary will give you some tips.

Renting student accommodation

After you have decided what you want to study, at which college or university and in which city you want to do it, there is one last problem to solve: where do you want to have your digs? Whether you choose to live close to the campus or in a quieter place a bit further away, on your own or sharing with friends, you still have to come up with the rent. Rents can vary substantially from one student town to another. In a smaller student city like Hasselt, you would have to pay about € 250 per month, and in Brussels an average of € 500. In Leuven, Ghent and Antwerp, you can rent digs for € 300 to €400.

When it comes to the move, bear in mind that you will have to pay a (one-off) rental guarantee. The rental guarantee remains frozen in the bank, but the landlord can access the money if you do not fulfill your contract as a tenant. The amount of the rental guarantee is usually a maximum of two months' rent, but can be lower for student digs.

Utility bills

In addition to your rent, other fixed costs need to be paid monthly. To pay for your use of the internet, electricity and water, your landlord can make you pay the costs monthly. You can also agree to pay a fixed monthly amount. You should allow € 50 to € 100 for this on top of the monthly rent.

Caution!

Do you already have (telecom) contracts at a different address? Remember to request a transfer well in advance. That way, you can avoid having to pay connection and installation charges again.

Removal expenses

Moving all your stuff can be a real chore. The total cost of moving home really depends on the size of your future digs and the amount of stuff you want to move. In some cases, a few banana boxes and a big car can handle of most of it! If you want to go about it in a more professional way, hire a van or removal truck, or use the services of a proper removal firm. It might be worth hiring a removal lift too!

How much? For removal boxes, you will pay between € 1 and € 3 each, and hiring a van costs from € 10 per hour to € 60 per day. For € 150 you will have the use of a large removal truck, and a professional removal man will cost you at least another € 40 per day. A removal lift costs an average of € 100 per day, and that amount is even higher if it has to be operated by a professional.

Buying furniture

Naturally you will not need to incur all these removal costs if you are moving to furnished digs. The budget to allocate for your furniture and decoration actually depends entirely on your personal tastes. It goes without saying that the price tag will be a lot higher if you just love design and art. Buying second-hand or rolling up your sleeves and being creative can really cut the costs. Maybe you can find the vintage wardrobe you have been dreaming of at second-hand or charity shops?

Insurance

Nice furniture can make you feel at home in your new surroundings, but you can only really relax once you have sorted out some insurance. If you are going into digs but are still domiciled at your parents' home, fire insurance and civil liability should still be covered by your parents' policy. If you make your digs your permanent residence, then the Rent Act applies and you may be required to take out various types of insurance:

  • Home insurance (often called fire insurance), such as ING Home Insurance for tenants, with extra options
    • For tenant's liability
    • Home contents insurance
    • Insurance against theft
    • Family insurance
  • Assistance insurance, such as ING Lion Assistance, to help you out if, for example, you lose your key.

The price of such insurance policies is calculated specifically for where you live, and what you actually need.

Day-to-day budget

Do not overlook your day-to-day spending! It is best to set aside a budget for items like shopping, (public) transport and tuition materials. Those expenses, plus your accommodation expenses, will take the biggest chunk out of your budget. Your banking app can help you keep an overall view of your finances as well as managing your income and spending securely. You can carry out your banking transactions wherever and whenever you want. In this way you will have more time to enjoy student life carefree!

Want to have your budget at your fingertips?