Three of my flatmates and I started looking for a house together over Christmas break in first year. We all got on well, had similar standards of cleanliness, and were on the same page about going out (not against it, but only infrequently). We figured we would work quite well as a house. So, we started to look for somewhere to rent off campus in Spring Term.
Choosing a house
We spent some time individually and together browsing the main student housing websites for York. We made a shared Google Doc where we put links to different places, their pros and cons, and details of booked viewings. As we each had some specifications of what we wanted in the house, we all had to compromise. The first houses we saw were okay, but none wowed us. Fortunately, there were plenty to choose from, with new properties being added all the time, so we kept looking.
I decided to check more mainstream sites like Zoopla and RightMove for private landlords. It was here that we found the perfect house! It was within a 20-minute walk of the university, had bike storage, big desks for my friends’ PC setups, and was close to town and multiple supermarkets. After a viewing where we chatted to the current tenants, we phoned the landlord on the walk back to campus and secured ourselves the house.
Different areas of the city
The house we got was on Wellington Street, close to both town and campus. This area is popular with students as it is near to multiple supermarkets (Co-op, Lidl, Morrisons, Tesco), cafés and bars, as well as everything the city has to offer.
There are many other popular student areas, like Badger Hill, Osbaldwick, Tang Hall, and Heslington Village. Each has different advantages and disadvantages, so it depends on your priorities. Places like Osbaldwick and Badger Hill are very close to campus east which is great if your department is there, however this means they are further from town. All are within walking or cycling distance of campus, and all have great bus connections with student price tickets, so wherever you end up you’ll be fine!
How it went and how it compares to halls
Compared to halls, I found my second-year house much cosier and more ‘my own’. I rearranged my furniture, went to IKEA, and could really personalise the space more than my campus room with in-built furniture. I also enjoyed the atmosphere of the city more, and the frequent visits from my neighbour’s cat! Although there’s a certain charm to hearing freshers socialise in their flats in the evenings, I found that the quieter house environment off-campus helped me study in my second year.
Generally, living off-campus made me feel more a part of the city of York than just a student at the university. We shared an access path with our neighbours (not students) so we quickly befriended them (and their cats!). We’re still friends now, whenever we cross paths in town I’m sure to say hello!
Living in a shared house took some adapting to. We had to learn the bin and recycling schedules, set up our own broadband and utilities, and share responsibility for cleaning the communal spaces. Some houses have bills included, but ours didn’t, so we agreed to set up the accounts jointly so that the responsibility didn’t fall on one person.
It all worked out in the end
Altogether, living off-campus in my second-year house felt more ‘grown-up’ than living in halls. Being off campus meant we were now responsible for things that are handled by the campus accommodation team and cleaners. This might all sound daunting, but I’m glad I learnt these skills early and with friends who were as equally inexperienced as me – we’re all going to have to do them eventually!
Read more about student experiences of living off campus.