Uni accommodation – from flat-sharing​, to house sharing to my own apartment​ – OurWarwick

Uni accommodation – from flat-sharing​, to house sharing to my own apartment​

Over the past three years at Warwick uni (this is my fourth and final year) I have lived in a different type of accommodation each year. Like many first-year students, I started my university experience on campus, in Claycroft. In my second and third year, I shared a house (albeit with different people each year) in Leamington and loved it! Finally then, this year I am living by myself in a cute little flat, still in Leamington and I am loving that too. So, I thought I’d reflect on the pros and cons of each a little bit, give you some advice on feeling good in each option and end it with some extra advice for international students, for whom securing accommodation can be a little bit more difficult. 

On-campus flat sharing 

For many of you, moving away from home and into on-campus accommodation will be your first taste of real independence. Enjoy it! But beware, you might find you quickly start to miss dinner being cooked and ready for you when you come home, your laundry being done regularly and a caring someone kindly (or not!) reminding you it’s time to go. Use your first year on-campus to learn to do all these things by yourself – it’ll come in handy over the next years when the pressure increases, you live further away and have more to do. 

Secondly, living on campus in a shared flat will most likely also be the first time you experience living with other people, from different backgrounds and origins and with different ways of doing things. Show an interest – there will be lots to learn, both about others and yourself! And don’t worry about making friends. Chances are none of you know each other so they will all like to get to know you and get along. Be yourself, be open to making conversation and take initiative, whether that be to organize flat events or raise a concern. 

If you’re interested in reading more about Claycroft in particular, you can find a review of my own experience in the flat here

Off-campus shared housing

In my second year, I shared a house in Leamington with some of my original flatmates from Claycroft. Living in your own shared house comes with even more freedom and independence, as well as with a new set of responsibilities to living on campus. First of all, you need to actually find the house. Have a read of my top tips for securing off-campus accommodation here. Then, things like sorting bills, keeping the house relatively clean, and peacefully sharing the space with others come into play. I’m not gonna lie, the occasional blip and frustration can and probably will occur. Not everyone has the same habits and standards. You live as a group so have to consider others when doing things or making decisions. But, it’s a great life lesson I would not have wished to miss out on. Most importantly, living with your friends is FUN! Whilst it’s important to be able to do your own thing, I always loved the fact that someone would be around at the same time as me. Tip: make sure your room is your “safe space”. Uni life is hectic and having a place to come back to to refuel a little is important. I know not all houses are created equal and some rooms are nicer than others but I truly believe that with a little effort, you can make something out of almost any space. If you’re interested in how I made my second-year room my own, I take you through it in this blog post

With people going on years abroad etc, it’s quite normal to change houses and housemates entirely in your third year, which is what I did. I decided to stay in Leamington because I love the vibe of the town, the abundance of cute coffee shops, and the student community here (and the commute really isn’t that bad if you time it well!)

Off-campus apartment

This year things were a little more complicated. I was supposed to be on a year abroad in Paris but because of Covid that couldn’t go ahead. Finding accommodation in Leamington therefore relatively last minute was challenging. Many of my friends were either going abroad, already had accommodation, or had graduated. So, it looked like living on my own or moving into a house with people I didn’t know were my only options. With Covid, I preferred the option of living alone and although at first, I was a little worried about missing the social aspect of house sharing, I have loved every minute so far! I wouldn’t have wanted to live by myself before this year as I think I learned a lot from living with others but having your own space, where you can set your own standards and do what you want really is very nice. On the other hand, you really have to do everything yourself, from cleaning to all the administrative stuff. Additionally, bear in mind that living by yourself will tend to be more expensive. 

Tips for international students

As an international student myself, I have noticed that securing accommodation can be more difficult than for home students. Depending on the agency you decide to rent with, some will require you to have a UK guarantor with an income that can adequately cover the rent, which can be really difficult to find. The alternative is to pay in advance, which clearly also isn’t ideal…So make sure to ask before seriously considering any options to avoid any surprises. Secondly, visiting a property when you physically aren’t in the country is obviously not possible. Know that because locals can view properties easily and decide there and then to take it, you may find that a property you liked was rented out over the weekend (happened to me a few times…) So, if you can, insist on a virtual viewing (these have become much more common with Covid) or ask a friend to view it for you. Finally then, paying rent from an international bank account is something I really would not recommend doing. It creates extra complications for both yourself, the agent, and your housemates if you’re sharing. Opening a UK bank account is one of the first things I would do when you arrive in the UK – yes it’s a hassle at first but saves you from quite a few headaches down the line. 

Hope that was helpful! As always, feel free to reach out with any questions 🙂

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