What to do if you don’t get your first choice accommodation

Keep an open mind!


You’re relieved that you’ve received the results needed to get to Exeter and the prospect of moving somewhere new – aka without your parents or siblings – is quite frankly thrilling. But then the email comes in: your accommodation has been allocated.

St David’s? Like the train station? What? With the hopes of East Park, Lafrowda, Birks completely destroyed, you may, understandably, be about to cry into your new IKEA bedding. The sinking feeling in your stomach as you realise it’s a 25 minute walk from campus, and of course the fear of wondering how on earth you’re going to make any friends.

Things not going exactly according to the plan you’ve made in your head can knock you a bit. However, what can seem like the end of the world in the couple of hours after that email is received is actually just a small hiccup in the journey of university. Here’s our guide on how to handle that unexpected and undesirable news:

Research the accommodation you’ve been allocated

Where is it? How many people do you live with? How much is it? Are there other accommodations nearby? Have a think about the things that are most important to you in terms of where you’re living (and don’t judge it by its appearance). If there are genuine concerns with what you have been given – for example, worried that it’s going to impact your mental or physical health – it’s worth calling the accommodation office and voicing your concern and seeing if there is something more appropriate that they can offer you. Remember, you can request to switch accommodation throughout the year, not just in the first couple of weeks, so you can always give it a go, perhaps wait until Christmas or Reading Week and re-evaluate.

Join group chats

Sounds a bit cringey but try and find a group chat for your accommodation and reach out to people that seem like-minded! It will ease your stress so much to know that you’re not alone in how you’re feeling and it’s always nice to have a friendly face in your accommodation. Even if people in the group chat aren’t in your exact flat, it’s always good to know someone who can be your back-up when you come in from a night out and realise you’ve lost your key…

Keep an open mind

At uni everyone is a little bit nervous and excited about what the future holds. It’s a special place where you can find friends in the most bizarre places. Early morning fire alarm? Accommodation best friend found. Fever girls toilet queue? One of the most supportive and complimentary places you will ever visit! The course mixer in freshers week? Where I met some of my closest friends now, plus friends that are very helpful for when uni work gets a bit confusing! Take every opportunity you have.


Leave your preconceptions behind

Something that is often said is it’s not about the place, it’s the people and what you make of it – which couldn’t be more true. One key thing to remember is don’t dismiss something at first glance, give it a good go. Exeter has an excellent system for moving accommodations and it is relatively easy and quick if things really aren’t going your way. This was a system I planned to use as soon as I could. Instead, I met some amazing people that I almost immediately got on with and couldn’t bear to leave behind when the opportunity to move accommodation arose, an experience shared by so many people that I met who were initially unhappy with the accommodation that they were allocated.

So, remember although it isn’t quite what you expected, it’s just redirection. Give it the best chance you can and get out of your comfort zone! The most important thing you can do is not worry because you can always move later on in term!

Related stories recommended by this writer:

• We asked Exeter students for their first year regrets, so you don’t make the same mistakes 

Lost Saturdays at the Lemmy are back!

• Freshers will spend over £1m in their first week