There are a lot of things to sort out when you’re moving into a house with other people. Who gets which bedroom? Is anyone bringing an iron? And, most importantly, how do you choose your broadband?
Read on and broadbandchoices will take you through everything you need to know to get the best broadband package for your house share, flat share, or student house.
Things to consider
Here are a few key things you may need to think about when choosing a package.
How many of you are living together? And what will you all be using the internet for?
The more people sharing a connection, the faster your download speed needs to be. If there are three or more people in the house we'd recommend a speedy fibre optic broadband package - especially if you'll be doing more online than just light browsing.
Some activities require faster speeds than others. For browsing the web, sending emails, and ripping articles from JSTOR, your internet doesn't need to be mega fast - but watching Netflix or iPlayer, streaming music, and downloading games can definitely benefit from fast fibre speeds. Fibre optic broadband also has higher upload speeds and better reliability, making it ideal for online gaming and Skype calls too.
Some broadband packages have caps on how much data you can download each month, while others offer unlimited downloads. Going over a download cap can mean your internet switching off for the rest of the month, or expensive additional fees - two things that no house share wants. If even one person in your house streams video or downloads big files regularly, we'd recommend going for unlimited downloads.
How long will you all be living in the house? Most providers have contracts that last 12 or 18 months, though there are some notable exceptions to that rule. Some, like NOW Broadband, have rolling monthly contracts that you can cancel whenever you like. Others - including Virgin Media, BT, and Sky - have nine-month ones specially for students.
Some providers practise web traffic management. In other words, they make sure everyone's internet is always stable by prioritising certain activities at peak times. This means you may see dips in speeds in the evenings - particularly for things such as file sharing. On the other hand, if you typically just use email and browse the web, you'll barely notice a difference.
Most providers don't just offer broadband - you can also get TV and mobile deals, and the vast majority have line rental included as standard. And let's not forget you may be able to get Sky Sports or BT Sport too. Think about which services you'd like, and take a look at what your available providers offer.
The cost of your bills is always important, especially if you're on a budget. Things like faster speeds and higher download limits will drive up the price, and adding more stuff on (like TV or sports packages) will make it more expensive still.
Of course, the cool thing about a house share is that the bills are split between all of you… meaning that even a more costly broadband package can end up being worth it. Use our postcode checker to see what's available for your house and find the best deals.
Example case studies
- Beatrice and Benedick are sharing a flat. Both plan on using the internet for emailing and uni work, and for watching a bit of All4 together when they need a break. Since neither will be doing anything too intensive online, they get a basic, cheap broadband package with average speeds of 11Mb - with unlimited downloads so they can watch as much Peep Show as they want.
- Cordelia, Goneril, Regan, and Lear are sharing a house. Three of them only really use the 'net for browsing, shopping, and listening to Spotify, but Cordelia is a big Xbox gamer. They're veering towards a fibre optic package with unlimited downloads and average download speeds of 35Mb - that's fast enough for Cordelia's gaming, and it'll be nice and stable for streaming music. Because it's split between four people, it's very affordable.
- Viola, Sebastian, Olivia, Orsino, Malvolio, and Maria are sharing a student house. Between them, they go online for work, music, games, TV, films, and sending files to each other - so they need some hefty bandwidth. They're considering either a fibre optic package from BT with average speeds of 67Mb, or a broadband-only one from Virgin Media with average speeds of 108Mb. Both are available on nine-month student contracts which is ideal.
- Think about how you'll pay your internet bills. Will one person be the account holder - or will you all sign the contract, making all of you legally obligated to pay an equal share?
- It can take a while for broadband to be set up and activated if you're moving somewhere new. Make sure you allow enough time for the internet to arrive before you absolutely need to use it - especially if you'll be living in your student house over the summer.
- Remember to deal with your broadband when you move out! Most providers allow you to take it with you to a new home, though if you don't want to do that you'll have to cancel it at the end of the year.