Member Advice on Applying for University Accommodation
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Review of "Member Advice on Applying for University Accommodation"
It is difficult to write this opinion from a general perspective, as choosing and applying for accommodation varies so greatly between universities. I am about to start my 4th and final year at Warwick University, where I have lived both on and off campus. Based on my experiences, I shall try to give prospective and returning university students some kind of general idea of what to look out for when selecting accommodation.For some students the main factor involved in their choice of accommodation will inevitably be the cost. On one hand, cost may not be an object, especially if your parents are funding you, but there are still certain factors I would advise you to take into account. These factors will apply to all other students for whom the most expensive residences may be ruled out. Warwick has a great choice of on-campus accommodation to choose from. Prices and rental periods vary widely, allowing for maximum student choice as to where they live. This is pretty much the same at all campus universities, so allow me to explain what the factors are that one should consider.
*Duration of the rent
This is quite an important factor that is often overlooked. A typical university year is 3 terms of 10 weeks, ie. 30 weeks. Most residences are available for only this period of time. Students will often return home for the holidays, but those that have nowhere to go are stuck if they have only chosen a 30 week residence. In the 1st year this is less of a problem, but what about when your degree starts getting real important? You may want to stay around in the holidays (especially at Easter) to revise and write essays, something that you can't do with just a 30 week let. So, if that bothers you, narrow your choice of accommodation to those available for 39 weeks.
This gets increasingly important for different reasons as the 1st year progresses. To start with, having lots of people around you is great - you make lots of friends and have a great laugh. But, later in the year you may start to wish you had fewer people and will often look forward to living with a select few of your mates in the 2nd year. This is because, firstly, work pressure builds and the noise and drunkeness that was once hilarious becomes a real pain. Secondly, people that seemed alright in October suddenly seem total w****rs in March. Once the novelty of uni life wears off and you make friends outside your corridor/flat, you are less able, or rather willing, to put up with your flatmates' flaws.
You will find that the majority of returning students prefer the slightly less crowded residences. So, generally, I would say go for somewhere with a bit of life but not too much (10-12 per corridor and 5-6 per flat is about right).
* Bathroom Facilities
This is closely linked to the factor above. You must consider factors like: Can I live without an en-suite bathroom? Do I mind sharing a bathroom with 2, 4, 8 other people? Must there be a bath and/or shower? I had en-suite in my 1st year, but must share a bathroom with a bloke I've never met before next year, and am not looking forward to that experience!
Something I didn't think of before uni: where is the launderette? You'd be surprised how important this can be. Have you ever tried carrying 2 bags full of washing across half a mile of university before? If not, think about it...
Also, how close are you to things that you may be interested in using?, e.g. sports facilities, cinema, bus stop, shops (very important - try walking a mile with 4 or 5 Tesco bags!), perhaps even lecture theatres ...
*Proximity to Union/other entertainments
If your Union is particularly good, and you frequent it almost every night as I do, you must consider how far you are willing to walk back whilst drunk. This may sound a silly thing to worry about, but trust me, as a student it's something to think about - particularly when its wet or freezing cold. On the other hand though, you don't want to be too close. It can be very noisy, especially around closing time!
In the 2nd year, as at most campus universities, you have to club together with some mates to find a place to live. In my case, in either Leamington (good for pubs/mixture of houses available), Coventry (bit rough I think) or Kenilworth (nicest of the 3 but less easy to reach - despite being the closest!). This can be a good laugh, and the uni will help you to find somewhere, unless you choose to go private. In the final year, most people try to get on-campus, but there is a limit to the number of places available. So, places get allotted via a kind of lottery. Those who lose, must go through the process of finding somewhere off-campus again, which can be a bit of a pain I guess. Students returning from abroad (like me) are guaranteed on-campus accommodation.
So, what should returning students look out for when choosing a property? Basically, you can refer back to the original list for a few, e.g. duration of rent (although this will more often than not be for a year). But, I would perhaps add a few more factors that become important when off-campus.*Who you live with
Most important by far! If the 1st year taught you that living in a corridor/flat with strangers could be difficult, just think how awful sharing a house with someone you don't get on with would be! Obviously, make sure you live with people you like - although after a year of knowing people at uni you should be OK.
*Proximity to uni/access to uni
I lived in Kenilworth, which was only a mile or two from the uni, but it was very poorly served by bus services. So, make sure that you know where and when the buses go from around your prospective house. It's always handy when running late, to have an alternative bus available if you miss the one you wanted originally. Nevertheless, the advantage of Kenilworth over Leamington was its proximity. Whilst I could only get perhaps 2 buses home per hour, and those living in Leamington could get maybe 8, I at least only had a 10 minute journey, whereas they had between 35 - 45 mins. Think about it. A 20 min round trip or an hour and a half? It's your call. This is even more important at night, ie. at 2 in the morning. If a taxi home cost us £5, imagine what you'd pay to get back to anywhere further afield!
You must assess what's more important to you: a quiet area with pleasant neighbours but no nightlife and only small local shops, or a noisy area full of vandals but with great pubs and shops? The best thing is to try to strike a balance. Proximity to good shops is so important if none of you have a car. And what about going out? You can't go out to the Union every night when off-campus.
So, there you go. That's my guide to university accommodation. Obviously, it is not relevant to everyone - it depends on what type of uni you are at. But, I hope that it has given you some good advice and is useful to people about to start uni or looking for 2nd year houses. If you have any questions about this subject feel free to message me.
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