The random things I found when packing up my second year house

The Durham student lifestyle never fails to surprise me

It’s that busy time of year where tenants move in and out of student houses again. Hire removal vans congest the stony roads of the viaduct, carrying the possessions of wearied second years and optimistic new liver outers. Much like the circle of life perhaps. But moving out of your second year house isn’t perhaps quite as seamless as the circle of life.

The main issue you will be faced with is trying to deal with the debris that has been accumulating throughout the year. Abandoned pots and pans forgotten about in the corner cupboard, and deserted cutlery survive among other strange and unclaimed items. Let me give you a flavour of the oddities that surfaced while I was moving out:

How can one person own THIS MANY things?

A full-on Moss Bros suit wrapped in a suit bag

No one even pretended that it was theirs. And there I was, attempting to squash it down among the rubble in the county council bins, thinking “what a shame”. It was a shame – with hindsight I definitely should’ve donated it to a charity shop, but when you’re trying to vacate the premises under pressure, all sense of logical thinking goes out the window. Alexa, play “Under Pressure” by Queen.


Plural intended, because plural were found adorning the windowsills on various bedrooms. Unless my housemates are blind, the audacity and the nerve to leave a poor pot plant in the room is unnerving. One of my housemates just casually chucked it in the bin without telling me, so when I went to squash the bins down it pricked my whole feet. “Is there a cactus in this bin?” is not something you can imagine yourself or anyone ever saying, and I hope it was the first and last time I spoke those words in that order.

10/10 wouldn’t recommend this experience

A football

One of the most prized possessions of the male species and yet left neglected behind the washing machine. Yep, we had to throw that away too. Can you tell that a certain savagery overcomes you when clearing things out?

A barbeque

You’d think this garden item would be big enough to notice, but we’d become so accustomed to seeing it in the garden, we thought it came with the house. We were so stuck with what to do with it, at one point, we even considered fly-tipping. You may strongly contemplate this when packing up your student house, but think of it this way: it’s illegal for a reason and you’ll definitely get fined more than the amount taken off your deposit to remove it.


To light up the house in frustration of cleaning? To celebrate the end of an era? Where were they when it was someone’s 21st is all I’m saying. The variation of Murphey’s Law truly does lives among us.

Random greetings cards with “my deepest sympathy” and “alpha male” on their covers

We ended up writing the latter to one of my male housemates as a prank love letter, which really stroked his ego. I’d love to receive a letter like this, tbh.

Eventually, you’ll get to a point where you realise that getting a cleaner in is the most practical and obvious solution to the cleaning situation. At first, you’ll all be resentful of the idea, hubristic in your cleaning schedule, but with time and pressure flustering you, just swallow your pride and accept that the fairy godmother armed with gloves and spray will leave it sparkling and give you the best chance of getting your full deposit back. Top tip: ask for a receipt.

If they come in a van, it means business

When it comes to emptying a hoover bag, has anyone actually ever done this before? Why would you? It’s one of the domestics that lurks in the dark and you don’t even know exists. I had never even considered it until the letting agent prescribed it in our move out letter. What astonished me about the unexpectedly onerous task was the vast number of individual Cheerios that poked out from the filter bag. It was more surprising that I knew their exact origin: from under the depths of the sofa, where they would make repeated migrations from one of my housemates’ breakfast bowls. There’s always one, isn’t there?

Towards the end, you’ll also find yourself eating whatever you can scrap together from the freezer that needs eating. Bougie house dinner using the frozen tuna steaks? Go on, we love some spontaneity. I also found that to be one of the only times I ever actually put any effort into a meal in second year. Oops, third Deliveroo meal in a row? Desperate times calls for the most efficient and practical measures, which means I am now very accomplished at navigating the Fat Hippo Menu.

Finally, it comes to saying a tribute to your room on your day of departure. I didn’t want to leave on a cold and impersonal note, so my eulogy went a bit like this: “You’ve been good to me, though its been short and sweet. I hope you’re as good to the next tenants as you were to me. Peace and love, room 9”.

I’m just grateful I never got the box room to be honest

There’ll be a slight case of you cleaning bathrooms that you never used, and getting incredibly sweaty and tired in the process. You’ll be contemplating this on your hands and knees, while other housemates empty the spices cupboard or check the dryer:  a literal definition of “taking one for the team”. Your housemates will try and wash their hands of the situation as quickly as possible. “F**k you”, I thought to myself as I emptied one of their cupboards of baked beans cans and peanut butter jars. However, it’s got to be done- it is a shared house.

As chaotic as moving out of a second year house might be at the time, maybe it is much like the circle of life after all?