With semester two well underway the time to begin trawling through online listings of student houses is upon us – something that can seem both daunting and endless if you’re doing it for the first time. Moving into a house may seem like an easy decision to make but before you sign away the next year of your university life (and finances) make sure you know exactly what you’re signing up for.
I’m in my second year of university and made the move from a flat in halls to a house last September. Trust me – the warmth, security and comfort of my old flat are long forgotten. Don’t get me wrong, I do like living in a house but in hindsight I wish I’d given it more thought. I should have been more organised with the whole signing for a house thing but at the time I was, as were the majority of my Facebook friends, more interested in updating my status letting everyone know I’d got a house for the upcoming academic year.
Of course there are both good and bad sides to living in a house, so here are a few to have a think about before you make the final decision. I’ll start with the good…
Most university towns and cities have ‘student areas’ for students that are filled with great social spots. For example, where I live, there are countless pubs, bars and restaurants less than 10-minutes’ walk away from my house and these places are likely to have special student discounts or offers on because of the area they’re in – which can make a night out cheaper, meaning indulging yourself every now and then is justifiable! Secondly, houses for students vary in quality and price but if you take the time to shop around you are certain to find something you like. Finding the house you like can make you feel more at home as they are bigger and have more character. University halls are often filled with the cheap basics you need, and some houses are the same, but there are some out there that offers ‘luxuries’ such as big kitchens and leather sofas.
Also, there are no restrictions on how loud your music can be or how many people you’re allowed over at one time. You don’t want to annoy your housemates and neighbours by playing your music on full blast all through the night but you are free to have as many house parties as you want.
Obviously, university halls of residence offer many things that a house can’t and it’s important that you’re aware of these before you decide to move out. The first being security. It’s common for halls of residence to be enclosed in a pass-coded gate with a security team ready to tend to any of your concerns. In halls you’re also likely to have insurance on your belongings paid for as part of your rent. With houses you don’t get this. You have to sort your own insurance out and some of the horror stories you hear about being woken up in the night by someone trying to get through your bedroom window can be true; this shouldn’t scare you away from living in a house but it is something you should consider. Bills are second. As with insurance, bills are usually paid for as part of your rent which is hassle free and very convenient. You can get houses that do this too, but a lot of the houses on offer come without the bills included and you’re left to end current contracts and begin new ones. This can be both stressful and expensive, if you don’t do this with enough time before moving in you’re liable to continue paying bills to the previous supplier until their notice period runs out.
Finally, how close the house is to campus is perhaps the biggest decision to be made. When I lived in halls I could stroll to Uni in 20 minutes, but now, it takes 40. This would be fine if I were willing to get up 20 minutes earlier whenever I have a 9am lecture, but that’s easier said than done. Halls are usually closer to Uni than the majority of houses on offer and while I’m sure this would be fine for some students, I’d prefer the extra time in bed.
With both good and bad sides to the situation, weighing each is important when making a decision on where to live in your second year of university. For some the positives will outweigh the negatives and nothing will sound better than signing for a house but others may prefer the convenience of halls. Whichever way you go, it shouldn’t be a decision made lightly.
– Ben Frith