You’ve done a year in university halls. You’ve done the music thumping through the floor from upstairs, the sound of someone vacuuming the hallway at 11pm. You’ve found the cheese-stealer (he’s reimbursed you), and you’ve finally learnt the name of the guy down in the room at the end who only surfaces once a month. You’re in your final semester, and people are telling you to quickly get a house because they all go like hot cakes. Choosing your house at university is a big deal, and you’re going to want to get it right. After all, this is going to be your home for at least a year…and potentially for the rest of your uni life.
Living on your own vs. living with housemates
Your first decision: do I live with anyone? Some people opt for moving in with a group, while others move out to a new place on their own. Go with what you want, and don’t feel pressured into moving in with people if you don’t want to. If you’re moving out alone, there are going to be places you could move into that you might not have considered before; sometimes pubs/inns offer rented accommodation at student-friendly prices, or you could consider renting a spare room in a family home. If moving out alone is not for you, then you’re going to want to think about who you choose to move in with.
Picking the right people
You might be lucky and have a close group of friends who you’ve lived with in halls. You’re used to living with each other, and you all get along in the kitchen. They’ve seen you cry over a bowl of spaghetti at 3 o'clock in the morning. You’ve seen them dart from the communal bathroom to grab a towel because they forgot one before they showered. You’ve seen each other at your worst and your best. Moving in with them seems like a no-brainer. But what if you’ve not had that kind of chemistry with the people you’ve lived with?
Have you made a group of friends on your course that you really click with? This could be another option for you. Talk to your friends, and see if they like the idea of moving in. Figure out what you all want; do you want a big house of six or seven people? Or are you more the type of person who wants to move in with a small group? It’s important you’re all on the same page, so make sure you communicate your feelings. Remember that this is going to be your home.
What if you’ve run out of options and there’s no one you can see yourself moving in with? Consider asking other people who are in the same boat as you. What about Curly-haired Dude from your seminar on a Wednesday afternoon? If you’re moving in with someone you don’t know very well, then it’s important you get to meet them before you choose a place. Reserving judgment is always important, but if 20 people are saying that Curly-haired Dude has been a nightmare to live with, then maybe he’s not the housemate for you.
The right house
So you’ve decided to give it a go with Curly-haired Dude and Girl-with-blue-hair. The next thing you need to do is visit a few houses. Sometimes universities offer student houses; sometimes it’s an independent landlord; sometimes you’ll have to go through an estate agent. At the end of the day, one thing stays the same: every month you’ll pay bills of some kind.
When you choose a house, you might want to consider the following:
- How many rooms are there?
- Are the rooms basically the same size? (Few people want be stuck in the room the size of a vampire’s coffin).
- How far is the house from uni?
- Will you have to drive?
- Are you happy walking 30 minutes in the rain?
- Do you want a garden? (BBQs in a uni garden are great)
- PRICE. PRICE. PRICE.
Tip: moving into a house that’s let by an estate agent might mean having to pay rent throughout summer too. Think about if you can afford that, and make the most of the house through summer if you can!
Make a list of what you’re all looking for collectively, and you’ll be on the same page when you go for viewings.
When you find a house you’re happy with, you’ll know straight away. It’ll tick all your boxes, and you’ll find the conversation with Curly-haired Dude and Girl-with-blue-hair will become livelier when you discuss it.
It is so important that you choose who you want to move in with. Don’t feel like you have to go along with a crowd. If you feel yourself getting sucked into a move that you’re not happy or are unsettled with, then address it. This is your uni life, and a lot of your memories are going to be formed in your new home, so make sure you do what’s best for you.