Do you regret your housemates?

‘I felt trapped’

housing selly oak the guild the tab brum university of birmingham UoB
Second year housing is supposed to be great because you can choose who you live with. And yet the pressure is piled on to decide who, what and where before you even know who your friends really are.
The right decision is not always made.
The Guild releases housing at the very beginning of November, when Freshers have scarcely completed a full month at University. Let’s be honest, this is not enough time to gauge if Fran who puked on your pillow on the first night of freshers, is housemate material. How on earth do we make choices for the next few years of our lives based on this small snippet of time. The pressure to secure a house leads freshers having to live with the rushed decisions they make in these ever-so-crucial first months.
selly oak
For me, like everyone else, the release of second-year housing on 1st November had my flat and I bustling for space around one laptop and craning for a glimpse at the rental price tag. I was still finding my feet and making new friendships. I hardly knew anyone outside of my block and yet the pressure was on to secure a new crib so I joined the search with the people I knew the most, my flatmates.
Walks to campus were filled with discussions of when house viewings were booked for, or who was living with who. Promoters began to hand out leaflets. Houses to “fit every specification” were advertised, only to turn up and find someone had ripped out their own toilet and it had been burgled in the last 6-12 months. Whilst the Guild could not be faulted in terms of helpfulness and efficiency (there was even a housing fair) the pressure to choose housemates so early on in the semester is riddled with issues. Every year a new batch of freshers are signing contracts with friends they barely know, left, right and centre because they’re in fear of all the good ones getting taken.

Friendships aren’t stable or even real (in some cases) yet. How can you possibly know, after less than two months, that your future housemates aren’t a huge pain-in-the-arse? There are horror stories of second years who have signed the contract and then fallen out with a future housemates during the remaining year that they must then spend together. Some even result in housemates dropping out, which causes difficulties for the other tenants *FUN*.

Therefore, whilst it is understandable that landlords and the Guild aim to secure contracts in plenty of time, perhaps it is better to allow students that time to make the right the decisions. The University of Exeter is the perfect example of this. Exeter housing is released on 16th January, almost two months later than Birmingham. This allows students time to settle and establish exactly who they want to live with.

The issue doesn’t stop at not knowing what a person will be like to live with. Some know perfectly well that one flatmate is a snobby know-it-all, or that they do not like the lad in the flat above.

The issue is that lots of us don’t see rejecting our flatmates as an option since no other secure friendships are in place. November won’t even be out and we’ve all paid our £550 deposit for a house with people you don’t want to live with.

A friend of mine said she ‘felt trapped’ when going through the same thing because rejecting her flatmate would have been hurtful and caused awkwardness for the remainder of the year but these weren’t friends she wanted to be around 24/7.



It’s tempting to hope that UoB should adopt Exeter’s’ later, second semester, housing market rush to help reduce pressure on Freshers.
God knows how many of us would save being legally bound to people we’ve gotten to know, and it turns out don’t really like all that much after all.