Finding accommodation part 1 – choosing who to live with

By Laura Dowson, BA (Hons) Illustration. 

I’m definitely leaving this blog post a little too late, but perhaps not for a few people! Some of my friends are STILL on the lookout for their student accommodation for their third year. A couple are unsure about whether they have secured a placement year and a couple have had plans that have fallen through last-minute. Personally, I have only just decided on my student house for next year purely because of indecision! If any of these scenarios apply to you, I have some tips from first-hand experience, do not fear.

Firstly, if you haven’t decided already, decide on how many people you want to share a house or flat with be it strangers or friends. Or even whether you’d want to live alone.

This way you can narrow down your property search. I have lived with strangers, with just one friend and on my own and there are pros and cons to all three.

Strangers (pros)

  • The people you are placed in a flat with during first year may have ended up being lifelong friends of yours. Sometimes the best friendships can be sparked with the most unexpected people even when they’re selected for you. Maybe going back into halls and reliving this experience is for you, especially if you still love partying hard with the freshers!
  • If you’d feel more comfortable selecting strangers as potential house mates yourself where you can view profiles, I’d suggest sites such as Roomgo and Spare room. These sites have likeminded people who are either looking for potential house mates or already have a house with a spare room. Again, this way of finding new house mates is very exciting. There’s little to no pressure as people often meet up for coffee beforehand, much like a dating website, and you are not tied to any commitment just in case you change your mind.

Strangers (cons)

  • From experience, when moving in with strangers you really can enter the unknown. New house mates could be the loveliest people but they might not be the cleanest or most considerate. If you’re pretty relaxed then this shouldn’t be a problem, but keep in mind that some landlords carry out periodic inspections of the property, and all landlords require the property to be clean and without damages at the end of the tenancy. No one wants a fee or a lost deposit, and when the damage or mess has been caused by just one house mate, new friendships can be strained. This can also be a problem when moving in with friends. Just because you’re close doesn’t mean you know their living habits, so it’s always good to be wary and firm (yet kind) with each other.

Just one friend (pros)

  • It can be a great yet intense bonding experience – it’s like having a sibling after a while.
  • That’s it, that’s the only pro I have from my experience and the only pro I can think of.
  • You might be able to share clothes?

Just one friend (cons)

  • All I can say from personal experience is if you do want to live with your friend, make sure you are on different courses, or at least have separate hobbies, societies or friendship groups! Otherwise, trust me, you could end up in a far too intense living situation.

Living alone (pros)

  • You are responsible for your own mess!
  • You can decorate your place how you like (within the boundaries highlighted in the tenancy agreement.) This is one of the reasons I am so excited to move in to my new flat alone.
  • Privacy and little disruption
  • You can make pancakes at three in the morning in your underwear and no one can judge you…ahem.

Living alone (cons)

  • If you’re an extrovert you might get lonely, but why not invite friends over?
  • Expensive. Your rent over month will be significantly more than splitting it between three or four people. For me this is my biggest problem, but it’s all about budgeting and being careful with money.