Lifting the lid on looking for the right digs

Kathryn Sharpe and housemate Liam O'Shaughnessey on house-mate day out in York to Clifford's Tower

Kathryn Sharpe and housemate Liam O'Shaughnessey on house-mate day out in York to Clifford's Tower

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Port St Mary teen Kathryn Sharpe, daughter of island doctors Geoff and Karen, is a first year history student at York University. In her regular column, she describes life as a young Manx student. Here she discusses the perils of house hunting

BEING ‘grown up’ has many connotations. For me, I’d say that being an adult is having freedom and being able to make my own choices.

Some of these will always be slightly flawed, such as barricading an unbearable housemate’s girlfriend outside the house while smirking and continuing to stir a casual chickpea creation.

Others, however, can be some of the biggest decisions of adulthood – such as finding your first house.

Finding a house at university firstly requires deciding who to live with, which subsequently governs the process of finding the actual house.

After a year of living in halls of residence with people who have been picked for you, it can be all too tempting to live with people who have become your closest friends. No-one can imagine anything quite as exciting as getting away from ‘Pesky Paul’, or the guy at the end of the corridor who, chillingly, hasn’t emerged from his room in months.

But, while an ‘anyone but them’ policy may stand, having the freedom to choose who to live with does force you to answer the question: what is ultimately the most important thing at university?

Is it to have fun and regale your potential future children of the crazy nights that resulted in you falling asleep on your college pool table? Is it to only do work and aim for a first-class degree? Or is it a balance between the two?

I expect the majority would agree a balance is the best way to proceed.

Accordingly, choose people who want the same as you: those who you know you get along with well and have fun, but also those that realise there has to be times when work comes first.

Once you’ve answered the ‘who to live with?’ question, ‘where’ can become the next difficulty.

Houses that are rented to students are often notoriously grim. The most memorable one we looked at had been flooded, resulting in a downstairs floor termed a ‘renovation in (no) process’.

Being realistic about what you want is key. For example, many think that being close to university is essential, and whilst it is practical, it is not the be-all-and-end all if you end up slightly further away.

More often, it is the neighbourhood that becomes the most important factor.

Universities also usually have a housing check-list so you can tick off important things when you find a potential house, such as whether its easy to heat and how hard it would be to break in.

Travelling home from Leeds the other day, my friend and I overheard two men on the train chanting ‘everyday I’m chundering’, punching the air with their beer cans at the end of the phrase.

It confirmed that although it had taken me a while to decide who to live with, I had made the right choice.

The four of us knew we wanted to live out the cliche ‘work hard, play hard’ as far as we’d be able to, and crucially, that every day we did not want to be ‘chundering.’

Come August, I’ll be able to see whether our decision was the right one. Here’s hoping!

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