By the end of October, some of you will have started discussing housing situations for the next year or two. Others may be looking at living options ready for graduation. If you haven’t, don’t panic! There is plenty of time to sort it out, so don’t feel obliged to sign with the first people who bring up the issue for fear of being too late. Having said that, you do need to start thinking about the type of people you would like to live with, particularly when the work steps up with each year.
The first thing you need to think about is the number of people you want living in your house. You may have found that living with seven other people in halls was a terrible experience, with too much noise and drama, so try and find others who would prefer to live in a quieter environment with extra fridge space! Alternatively, you may have found that living in a flat of two or three was isolating due to everyone having different timetables, so look for people who are sociable and lively.
Next you need to consider who you would like to live with. In halls, you are thrown in with a random group of students in the hope that you will ‘click’. It’s the luck of the draw really. By now you’ve lived with them for almost two months so you should have a good indication of whether you could see yourself living with them for another year. Already you start to know whether you get on with them and whether their bad habits are bearable or not. Also, it’s nice to have other topics of conversation with people on different courses and from different backgrounds.
Have you considered living with your course mates and university friends? You have a different kind of friendship with them than with your friends from home, and probably have a lot of things in common. It would be great to have company to walk to and from lectures and a potential study buddy to motivate you to work. However, your friends could have the opposite effect and distract you from your reading.
Living with your best friends can either make or break a friendship. Think carefully about what things about them could annoy you in a domestic environment. For example, you probably love your friend despite the fact that they are messy because it doesn’t affect your friendship. However, if you’re naturally a tidy person, you may fall out over little things such as washing the dishes. Petty arguments can build up and escalate, causing a rift. Plus, if you take the same modules, you may be together for most of the day and could get sick of each other.
Some of your friends from home may live in Cardiff. After knowing them for most of your life, it may be easy to decide that you are compatible for cohabiting. By now, you can accept and appreciate their flaws and are used to being in their company frequently because of the hours you spent sitting next to each other in A level sociology. You’re as honest and comfortable with them as you are with your own family. Yet, people change when they get to uni, and the year you spent in halls may have had an impact on how you all see the world. As a result, your friendship may alter in the months between signing for a house and moving in. Having said that though, it could be great!
Maybe you’re considering moving in with your partner. This is a very big step in any relationship and needs careful thought and extensive discussion, even if you have been together a long time. Remember, once you sign for a house it’s difficult to get out of it. You may break up months before you are due to move in, or worse, just after you’ve started living together. As students, neither of you would be able to afford to move out and pay the rent on the house you were supposed to be sharing. It could be a very long and stressful year if this were to happen. University is a time where you can enjoy the slow pace of a relationship. You have plenty of time for all of that serious stuff when you graduate and start working. I have a few friends that have partners who live a couple of streets away from them in Cardiff. They find it helpful to live apart in order to keep them focused on their degree and it also gives them somewhere to chill out and be together if their housemates are annoying.
If you’re graduating, you may be considering living completely autonomously or moving back into your parents’ house. These have many pros and cons. Living on your own is great but only if you like your own company. You can do what you want, when you want and you don’t have to compromise on anything. However, one bedroom flats can be very expensive to rent and it can be constricting when you are cooped up on your own. If you decide to go back home, the obvious advantage would be economic. You may have to contribute a little to household bills but you would also have home made meals cooked on a regular basis. The familiarity of it all would be lovely and your parents would be glad to have you back for a bit. Anyhow, living with your parents can be just as constricting as living alone. Although you’re an adult, it’s not your house so you have to live under their rules. Having lived three years independently at university, it can be difficult to adjust to life back home and some clash with their parents.
The bottom line is that you need to weigh up all options before you come to a conclusion. You can certainly narrow it down by process of elimination . No matter who you live with it’s going to be a rental roulette as you can’t be completely sure if you are compatible with someone before you have actually cohabited. Living with anyone can be taxing and no friendship is perfect. Anyway, if you get half way through the year and realise you pulled the short straw, remember people don’t often get it right the first time. It’s just another stitch in the tapestry of life that you weave as you make your way through the world.