My experience living in Coventry
I’ve recently been thinking a lot about the perception that everyone at Warwick moves to Leamington Spa in their second/third year and how untrue this really is, so I thought I’d write a little something highlighting the reasons why I chose to live in Coventry instead and what it can offer you.
Initially, the first and foremost reason was the availability of suitable houses and the rent. I only live with one other person which is quite rare, and we couldn’t find many two-bedroom properties available in Leamington, and the ones that we did find were out of our budget. When we found a perfectly sized two-bedroom house in Earlsdon, Coventry for a seriously good price, we knew that we would be silly not to take it.
It soon became apparent that the majority of my friends were moving to Leamington and I worried a bit about how this would impact our friendships moving through university. However, this hasn’t been a problem at all. If you are involved in a lot of society events or like the party lifestyle, you might find that living in Coventry isn’t for you as a lot of events do tend to happen in Leamington because of the way Warwick students have kind of adopted it as their own, but this hasn’t stopped me. Admittedly, I’m not much of a party animal, but I have been heavily involved in societies and I’ve never found it a problem to get the bus into Leamington when I need to.
The perception that no one at Warwick moves to Coventry is completely false. Although none of my close friends did, I knew of several other people moving there like me, and you soon realise that there is actually a thriving student population. The north part of the city has a lot of students from Coventry University, but the south – Earlsdon in particular – has a lot more Warwick students living there than you might first think. All you need to do is look at everyone getting on the bus in the morning and you realise that!
The longer I live there (I’m now nearing the end of my third year and I moved in at the beginning of my second year), the more I discover that there is to do in Coventry. It’s a city, whereas Leamington is a large town, so things are on a bit of a different scale and it might take you a little longer to get to grips with everything – but on the flip side, that also means that there’s more to explore. Leamington is a bit more aesthetically pleasing than Coventry because of the Regency-style buildings which line the parade, whereas Coventry centre is largely a lot of concrete because it was re-built after extensive bombing in the Second World War. However, once you know the right places to go, you’ll see that there’s a lot more to it than concrete!
I love the mix of living in Earlsdon where it’s very quiet, but also having the city centre with everything it contains only a 20 minute walk away. Earlsdon, as a suburb of the city, has its own high street with shops and cafes, making life convenient for anyone nearby. And of course the city centre has everything a city can hold. Some of my favourite places in Coventry are the cathedral ruins, the Herbert Art Gallery and cafe, the main library, Fargo Village with all of its independent shops, and the area around Lower Precinct with all of the food stalls which are always tempting me! I can talk more about these places in the future, but for now its sufficient to say that there is a lot Coventry offers.
A big attraction for me is also the flexibility of the bus services. (I’m aware how boring that makes me sound, but I’m embracing it). By having a National Express pass as opposed to a Stagecoach pass (the favoured company of those living in Leamington as they run the U1 bus between Leamington and campus), I can get anywhere in Coventry and the surrounding suburbs if needed, campus, Kenilworth, and Leamington. This means that after paying the annual pass fee, I have never had to pay extra for a bus journey – whereas people with a Stagecoach pass cannot get to many of those places on a Stagecoach route. I love how flexible this is, as the buses run frequently and fairly late so I can rely on using them to get to almost any event at uni. (This excites me far more than it should.)
Several of my friends who live in Leamington have come into Coventry to see me recently, and have commented that it was nothing like they expected, being pleasantly surprised by everything on offer – so that’s a pretty good endorsement! I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on any part of the ‘university experience’ at all by living in Coventry, and I would urge other people when they’re house-hunting not to dismiss it without investigating further.