Live Out Or Lose Out

Get out while you still can, warns TOMMY SHANE.

Last month, Jim Ross argued that living in was a privilege not to be missed. Tommy Shane, a fresher on hunt for housemates and reasonable rents, begs to differ.


My room at college is like a prison cell.

So much so that I feel like I should be tenaciously working out, or at least attempting to climb the ranks of the corrupt social hierarchy, making covert deals with the porters à la Un Prophèt. With the uniforms (stash) and the gang culture (drinking societies), I feel like I should be getting my first college tattoo to match.

Although the nauseating maroon carpets do detract from what I imagine is the more concrete, minimalist style that prison designers go for, I can’t help feeling that graduation will be, in many respects, bail.

Despite this, it’s not what I suffer in college accommodation that makes me want to move out. It’s what I’m missing out on. While most of my friends move into their own houses in their second year, we face the prospect of continuing the mollycoddled lifestyle of boarding school on into our twenties.

Having never gone to boarding school, for me this is less a continuation as it is a regression, as if I’ve been thrown into a playpen. A playpen surrounded by a load of weirdos.

While we are at Cambridge, most of us will never pay a house bill, sort out the internet connection, fix the fridge door, or maintain an awkward relationship with our creepy landlord. We won’t be forced to learn to cook for ourselves, or dish out the task of washing the dishes. Nor will any of us learn what really happens when you lose your key, or cease to have the rooms cleaned for more than a week. Granted, many of us here are working very hard to make sure we never have to learn how to do these things. But for the vast majority of us, even if only for a few years, this lifestyle will be a reality.

We will leave Cambridge with a degree from the best university in the world, but academia is only one slice of a university education. We should be learning how to function in the real world, and that comes not just from intellectually contributing to it, but also from surviving it. Future colleagues might have studied at universities lower down the league tables than us, but having lived on their own for at least two years, they will have a whole set of skills that we won’t.

We will have spent almost our entire time at Cambridge inside our college, possibly braving it out to one of three clubs, and maybe occasionally venturing to a different department’s library. Living out will mean complete autonomy, a real home, and, most importantly, an occasional venue for Bacchic, orgiastic house parties.

But, more importantly, not learning the importance of paying for a TV licence, avoiding police calls from the neighbours, and managing to get properly insured, could well end us up in a real prison.

  • Hyperbole Lover

    Brilliantly ludicrous last paragraph.

  • jkg

    I think you're exaggerating it. e.g. paying the TV licence – it takes 5 minutes online. The same with buying insurance.

  • mhnio

    your room at college is like a prison cell?

    first paragraph is ridiculous

  • Hang on a second

    You seem to forget that a sizeable chunk of undergraduates actually sort out most of these things for themselves at home. Perhaps you're over-estimating, or dare-I-say imagining, the average Cantab's inability to live in the "real world." Indeed, your exaggeration of the difficulty of learning to cook, shop around for insurance policies, deal with landlords and fix the fridge door may actually demonstrate how ill-prepared you are for a non-collegiate existence.

    Perhaps you may be well advised that spending more time in college accommodation, taking more ownership of your life – shopping around for your own student insurance, cooking, tidying your room every day and so forth – would be a better use of your time than writing pretentious, ill-informed, hugely generalising articles on the Tab.

  • actually

    not bad. move away from fashion

  • LOL

    Calm down, dear.

  • Tom Harrison

    "I feel like I should be getting my first college tattoo to match."
    Such Regrets…

  • lionel


  • pardy

    I have the rest of my life to deal with this crap. I also think that, having been at Cambridge, I will learn to do this reasonably quickly. Why spoil my university days with fixing a fridge door?

    • here it is

      exactly. i dont think doing mundane shit is a badge of honour. its all part of the "oh isnt poverty cool lets live in a squat" bullshit that people get into when theyre 20 and have lived privileged lives. youve got it good – just realise that and enjoy. the grass is not greener on the other side. its just longer because there isnt a gardener to cut it.

  • Er…

    …you have to buy a TV license and also get insurance if you live in college.

  • Genius

    Who better to write on the merits of living out than a fresher who hasn't yet lived out. Please, tell us more.

  • um…

    "While most of my friends move into their own houses in their second year"

    All Colleges (except St Edmunds) guarantee accommodation for three years for single undergraduates without children. Are your friends at Anglia Ruskin or something?

    • awk

      Some people make friends before they come to Cambridge…

    • Um, no.

      Some people have friends outside of Cambridge. Incredible, I know.

  • dear tommy

    you are a first year at homerton. you have not yet lived out; how do you know whether it's better or worse?

  • samantha brick

    a man after my own heart. so well-informed and lacking in exaggeration. couldn't have written it better myself.

  • trudat

    this article is cracking. haters gon hate.

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