Finding a flatmate

Moving to university was both the scariest and most exciting experience of my life. The prospect of moving out of my home and to a city that I was unfamiliar with was daunting.

Most students sign up for university accommodation for the first year of their studies. They are randomly assigned to a flat with other students who they have most likely never met. Due to being abroad I missed the application deadline for university accommodation. This turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. What I missed out on the most was probably the social aspect of meeting and living with other students in first year.

Not getting accommodation with the university initially stressed me out a great deal. When I arrived back in the UK it was one week before the university term started. Knowing that I was due to move to a new city and I did not have a place to live, naturally made me feel very anxious.

Luckily there was a housing fayre at the university that weekend. So the day after landing at Heathrow I made my way to Sheffield, jet lag and all, to go house hunting. Arriving at the students’ union, I found many other students in a similar position to me.

I went around talking to a lot of the other students and found two other students who I seemed to get along with very well. All the students, including myself, we formed ourselves into groups and went around together looking at houses. The other lads that I had decided I would move in with had different priorities to me when looking at houses. One of the lads was working on a tight budget, whereas I wanted to live in a little more comfort and closer to the university. So I decided to part ways with those lads. Now by myself I had to find a place to live.

Eventually I managed to find a lovely studio flat in a privately owned student complex which was close enough to the university. I ended up paying a little more but it was worth it to me, for the peace of mind.

A week later the semester starts, around late September, and I was very satisfied with my flat. Halfway through October I start seeing advertisements for accommodation, housing and flats for the next academic year. Having only just moved into my current flat I thought that it was ridiculous that I would have to sort out a flat for next year 9 months in advance. So I mostly ignored it, even though someone told me that the best places go early.

I did not want to go into a group with people I barely knew and end up living with someone who I did not get along with. I know what you’re thinking, but you were happy to do it before. I was in a difficult position before however now that I had time, 9 months, I did not want to rush into anything. I left sorting out accommodation until I had returned to university after the Christmas break.

I can be very fussy about certain things and this can be my downfall sometimes. I was being very fussy with signing for a new place. This fussiness meant I kept putting off finalising and signing a contract. The longer I left it the more stressed I was getting. Eventually it got to May and my anxiety levels were off the roof since I had not signed for a flat and also had upcoming exams. Out of the blue, I was contacted by a friend of a friend who told me they had a spare room going and they had heard I was still looking. I went and met with him and saw the flat which was perfect for me. I signed the contract the next day, no messing around and that was a massive weight off of my chest.

The lads I ended up moving in with have become brothers to me. I got along so well with them. One of my flatmates was also a medical student who graduated and moved out last year. He was a very big character who helped me a lot with things in medical school. Another one of my current flatmates, who is sadly moving out soon, is a dental student. I will probably miss his company the most as we got along very well and had a lot of harmless medic vs dentist banter.

Finding people to replace these amazing flatmates who are leaving me was difficult and stressful. At times I felt like I was speed dating but for finding a flatmate. So many people viewed the flat and told me they would think about it. I was almost pushed to the edge of my patience with two lads who said that they would move in to only tell me the next day that they thought it was too expensive. But I finally managed to find a great pair of flatmates, as well a close friend of mine who will soon be joining me.

I am somewhat apprehensive as I don’t know my new flatmates particularly well and being friends with someone is different to living with them. Everybody has a friend that they love but they would never consider living with them, I know I do. As apprehensive as I am there’s always a good lesson in living with new people, its enlarging your circle of friends. And though there are times you don’t match with their likes, there are some whom you just blend well.

Take home message of the blog: I tried to put off sorting out my housing using the various excuses when in reality I was being very fussy and just putting off making a big decision. I would advise against leaving things to the last-minute, especially something as important as where you are going to live and who you are living with for the next year. Procrastination is a demon we are all familiar with, “Procrastination is like masturbation. At first it feels good, but in the end you’re only screwing yourself”, a hilarious Monty Python quote.
I am a big believer in; “Everything works out for the best” and in the end everything worked out well for me but I definitely went through a lot of stress.

Good places to look for accommodation:

These are some good resources I found when looking for a place to live and flatmates

  • Rightmove
  • spareroom.co.uk
  • Ask your university if they have an accommodation service or a ‘find a flatmate’ event
  • If you intend to join a society, send them a an email to ask if anybody is looking for a flatmate.
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