On Picking Housemates
In first year, accommodation seemed like a pretty simple thing – you filled in your preference form, said a little bit about what sort of person you are, and hoped for the best. As Warwick was my reserve choice, I’d only briefly looked at the options beforehand and certainly hadn’t applied for any! As such, I tried to cast my mind back to the open day I’d been on. I vaguely remembered looking round Rootes, so I put that first. I still needed four more choices, though, so I went through the brief descriptions on the Warwick Accommodation website, picking the ones that seemed nice enough in the pictures.
Once you’re here, accommodation for second year and beyond becomes a far more complex process. It’s up to you to find a group of people, search for a house, and settle in. Although I’d obviously signed a contract for my halls in first year, this was a different beast. So, there I was at the start of second year, with a tenancy agreement and three coursemates, in an actually pretty decent house. Thrown together only by a mutual need to share a roof, we were set for the year ahead.
That experience, and the somewhat more organised one before the start of this year, made it clear to me how important finding the right housemates is. You’re in the same house, you’ll be seeing a lot of each other, and hopefully you can come out the other end with your rental deposit (and your sanity) intact. So, here are a few things I’d wish I’d know when it came to arranging that first meeting.
DO: Ask around first. Around the end of first term, pretty much all freshers start worrying about houses for next year. The prospect of finding people to live with is daunting; you’ve only known anyone for a couple of months or so, and even those you share a kitchen with may not be bffs just yet. But most people I know end up in four-bed houses, so you need people to fill the other rooms. Luckily, everyone’s in the same boat – so ask around! Two of my housemates this year joined us after I mentioned to a friend that we’d lost two prospective housemates to a year abroad, and they took the chance to join us. Speaking of which:
DO: Find mutual friends to vouch for strangers. My friend above reassured me that her current flatmate was decent, and I did the same for the friend I was currently living with. Obviously you want to sit down and get to know each other before you commit, but having someone reassure you that your prospective housemate has been seen to wash up from time to time just sets your mind at ease. Conversely, if your fellow acquaintance reacts with disbelief and mild horror at the suggestion of the two of you living together, then you might have a bit of an issue!
DO: Decide what you want. If you want to be in Coventry but your friend wants a place in Leamington, or if your ideal house is twice their budget, you’re going to have problems. Before you even start looking at houses, it’s vital to hammer out where you want to be, what sort of place you want, and how much you’re prepared to pay. You’re going to be in this place for more than half a year – make sure it’s right!
DON’T: Rush into it. Though many people start panicking as soon as the Warwick Accommodation external properties go live, you do have time. Plenty of people end up making arrangements late into second term or even later. Whilst you don’t want to still be worrying come exam time, you have more leeway than the panic that sets in by early December would suggest.
DON’T: Put off sorting the bills. In my first year, the utility bills were included in the rent. But if you’re renting a house, that’s now on you! Figuring out who’s paying for the gas, electricity, water and internet before your tenancy begins ensures you start the year with a minimum of fuss, and don’t have to trek to campus to check Facebook for the first two weeks. It’s also important to take the bills into account when considering the price of accommodation – if you can, ask the current tenants roughly what they pay to get an idea.
DON’T: Set off the fire alarm at 3am. You know who you are.
Hopefully this has given you a bit of an insight into the complications of committing to cohabiting with coursemates and the like. It’s certainly a big decision, but your relationship with your housemates can make or break your uni experience – so it makes sense to try and get the very best out of it. So what if they sing in the shower, or leave their dishes out sometimes? It’s all part of living with other people, and if they truly are awful, at least you’ll have a story to tell on the other side!
Until next time!