Over the past week or two, we’ve been hearing from lots of students panicking about where they’re going to be living next year, and about how to find housemates. I’m going to tell you a bit about why we’d strongly encourage you to wait and not sign up for anything too quickly.
The thing is, right now, most first year students have known one another for a maximum of sixty-six days.
That’s really not very long.
It’s certainly not much of a foundation for signing a legally-binding joint tenancy – one that won’t even start for another 288 days or so. Our friends in the Students’ Guild Advice Unit tell us they often see housemate groups experiencing problems that could have been avoided by not rushing into a contract – and once you’ve signed, it can be difficult (or impossible) to get out of a tenancy, even if you’ve now realised that living together is a bad idea.
One important thing to bear in mind when getting a group together is that friends don’t always make the best housemates. Good housemates are people who have similar lifestyles, and similar expectations about things like budget, location, visitors and housework. Lots of students consciously choose not to live with their closest friends, because sharing a house is a quick way to end a friendship if you aren’t all on the same page.
If you think you’ve found a group to live with, great! However, you still do not rush out and sign a contract. Follow the advice on this timeline and concentrate on talking about your priorities and what’s important to you in a home. You may be worried that if you don’t find a place now, you’ll miss out – but lots of properties won’t even be advertised until the Housing Fair. Most important of all, definitely arrange to have your contract checked by the Students’ Guild Advice Unit before you sign it – they can help you to make sense of exactly what you’re committing to.
If you don’t have a group yet, don’t worry! You’ll have plenty of opportunities to connect with other people in the same situation – the Students’ Guild plan to run housemate finder events from January onwards, and we’ll be adding a housemate finder facility to Studentpad in the near future. Also, don’t forget that you may not need to get a group together at all – many of the larger accommodation providers in the city have great options for people looking on their own. For right now, concentrate on working out your own priorities for accommodation, and try not to worry.
We recommend you start your search for accommodation at the Housing Fair, where you’ll be able to meet with a range of landlords and other private accommodation providers to find out lots more about your options – it takes place on Tuesday 12 January 2016. (That’s another sixty days from today.)
Residence Life Helen