Happy February, everyone! By now, you will have offers in hand and are probably trying to decide where you should live and study for the next three years.
For a minute, though, I’d like to skip ahead to a year from now, and let’s pretend you’ve chosen York. You’re in the second term of your first year and thinking about where you’ll live in your second year.
Picture the scene…
It’s a cold, rainy day in January 2017. You’ve just finished exams after returning from the holidays, seeing your family and all your school friends again. It’s been great to see them, and you’re feeling a bit low about being back. You haven’t really solidified your group of friends at uni yet – after all, you’ve only known them a few months!
Venturing out for food, you bump into a friend from halls. “Where are you thinking of living next year? Do you have a group set out yet?” You don’t know how to answer. You’ve already got a group lined up. And what about…
At this point, I’d like you to just picture me, an all-knowing third year, probably in a blue Open Day t-shirt, appearing from nowhere and smacking you over the head with a rolled up prospectus.
This is my way of saying to future you to stop worrying about housing. It is not worth the stress!
To help, here is the advice I was told at the beginning of first year:
Do not sign for a house before Christmas
There are always more houses than students, and the best ones don’t always go first. Signing early just unnecessarily shortens the time you have to decide your group and to view enough houses.
Get your contract checked
Make sure you like and trust your new landlord or agency. Even if you do, get your contract checked at the Student Support Hub to make sure it is fair.
You don’t have to live with your best friends to have a great year
There are groups on Facebook to help find housemates, and these can be a great resource.
If you don’t think you and your best friends would be great housemates or if your idea of a great house varies dramatically, don’t live with them.
If your bestie is a total slob, or wanting to pay £30/week more than you can afford, you are forgiven for wanting to live with other people. Go into the housing search thinking practically. Remember, you don’t have to live with someone to be friends with them!
Going with an agency is easy, going straight to the landlord is cheaper
Most groups will end up going through agencies. They will take you around a few houses, deal with you directly about deposits and guarantors, and sort out any issues you have. There are many advantages to going this route. Personally, I didn’t have a UK guarantor, so my housing group instead used the site Yorproperty (the York Council housing site) to contact a landlord directly. We preferred it, as that way you avoid the agency fees, but to each their own.
Of course, even with all this sage advice there are no guarantees, but realistically, you will likely have very few problems! It’s a great feeling to move into a house with friends for the first time, and one of the benefits is learning to deal with things like house-hunting, landlords, bills, and all the other joys of renting. It is a skill that will serve you well in future. Keeping my advice in mind will help, but if you don’t remember anything else, remember this: don’t worry!
And now, back to the present. Best of luck with the tough decisions you have to make, and congratulations if you’ve received an offer from York!
More information about housing in second and third year in this accommodation brochure.