A fresher’s guide to sorting out that first private property in Loughborough

You don’t wanna end up sleeping rough on the streets of Lough

To quote the Beatles on life, ‘’all you need is love.”

No, Beatles, you also need private housing in your second year! Don’t worry you silly little freshers, budding Phil Spencer wannabe, Jamie Will, is here to help you through the transition.

It’s November 23rd. The first two months at university have been daunting but you’ve made it through despite crippling icebreaker lectures, an intoxicated central nervous system and the phase of pretending to like everyone at a string of poorly themed fresher nights- often sports related- despite really just wanting a shag and restoration of your self-esteem.

Alas, an unprecedented list of derelict properties come into your inbox from a long list of student letting agencies, probably Nicholas Humphrey’s, claiming to be the next big thing in premium real estate. At first you panic: “maybe nobody wants to live with me?”,  you pose in your state of fragility, barely able to contain the pressure alongside the strain of a BA in Sport Science. You recollect. It’s time to get serious about things.

 

Keep it gender balanced

In our era of equality, it’s important to remember that men and women are both a happy and reasonable species. Nevertheless, there is nothing happy or reasonable about a congregation of angry women saddled behind the 1000kg force of a Fiat 500 seemingly coming in the direction of your property because Jez blocked the toilet. I once dreamt that a predominantly female household would be orderly and full of decorum- then third wave of feminism happened. Women nowadays are just as repugnant as men, especially when living in their tribal clique. Seek a gender balance.

Don’t live with a couple

Jonny and Sally met in first term, and they’re destined to see out academia together before happily marrying away to a small cottage on the South Downs. Right? Wrong. No, they’re not in love, wait until they inevitably clash over a pot of the nation’s favourite as the water to milk ratio is all over the place and then get caught up in a bone china related domestic. Landlords can be unforgiving specimens and there’s little scope for Jonny or Sally withdrawing from their contract any time soon. Now you’re stuck with Sally passive aggressively shagging all of Jonny’s Civil Engineering ‘mates’ as his comeuppance.

Watch out for student letting agents

They’ll come across all pally and offer up a crate of low grade European lager – probably Stella- in exchange for your signature against a legally binding document. But be careful. Really interrogate your contract, otherwise you will get taken for a ride. If in doubt, hit up the Student Union, for a bit of sound legal advice.

How many people should you live with?

The spectrum is often between three and seven, although you’ll hear murmurs of anything up to ten. Outrageous. I’ll happily vouch for seven; this is a number assured to give you that big house feeling alongside the perfect number of inhabitants to have a quality pre-drinks. Also, you’ll never be stuck for company; houses beneath five scream quiet sorrow and studious depression to me. It’s not physically possible to watch ‘Homes Under the Hammer’ on your own, even with Dion Dublin as the presenter- trust me, I’ve tried.

On top of this, you’re likelier to find the bigger, and let’s face it, better properties when there are more of you. No more compromising on a renovated shed down Ashby, you’ve just got yourself into the Goldfinch Close game, baby. Finally, you’ve got to try bloody hard to piss off all six of your housemates … Not to say it isn’t possible but I’m fairly sure Julian Assange even has a couple of mates in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

The Perfect Septet

Now, where’s actually good to live in Loughborough?

As Kirstie Allsopp once said, it’s all about “location, location, location.’” The woman talks sense. Nobody in their right mind wants to be located more than fifteen minutes away from the university. Even that’s a half hour around trip for a seminar on Chinese economics which literally went over your head. The Golden Triangle is often floated about as Loughborough’s go to resort for students and is defined by local letting agencies as ‘the prime student area, half way between the University and the Town Centre’. The superlatively named Golden Triangle includes forces to be reckoned with such as Leopold Street and Storer Road.

More importantly, rent in this region ranges from £60-£90 a week, which when compared to halls and other such areas, is absolutely steaming, especially when bills are included! This will ensure your student loan really goes the distance with plenty left for getting hoon-dogged at Firefly on a Sunday night, perhaps even with enough change to do the weekly shop at Sainsbury’s rather than Farm Foods.

Nevertheless, unlike the advice offered by our ‘Location, Location, Location’ heroin, you cannot knock the walls through in a student house and often they will be spatially austere. Hence, one might want to look beyond the world of the terraced house and venture into some of Loughborough’s traditionally unheard of estates. These include the likes of Holt Drive and Herrick Road, both a ten-minute walk from East Park- perfect if you’re a political scientist, chemist or geographer.

These properties tend to be detached, have sizeable living space and a sense of removal from the mainstream of student life, which may prove favourable to those preferring to be away from the loud bustle of student life. This however comes with a compromise. You will be more distant from town and the nightlife, though, naturally, finding that perfect property is all about taking the really bloody rough with the smooth.

Also, what sort of house are we wanting?

Now let’s be serious, unless you’ve made the fatal error of moving in with the posho or Marxist, you won’t be living in a penthouse or squat. The thing about student housing is that it’s supposed to be precisely equidistant between the two extremes. Never settle on your first viewing, be sure to ask your cowboy estate agent- who looks barely sixteen but can somehow pull off a three-point turn in a Ford Mondeo- the right questions. These include; enquiring about neighbours (ideally you want to live around other students), heating efficiency, cost of utilities etc.

With regard to specific rooms, I’d always aim for a maximum of three people to a bathroom in order to avoid general disgust and house politics – one bathroom between you all is a big no-no. You want bedrooms to be sizeable, again not like back at home in Guilford with your walk in wardrobe, but certainly enough space for a large desk and a double bed. Anything more than this is a bonus. Trawl hard for an open plan kitchen/diner, as it’s a perfect environment to start your night off in style and means you can cook yourself dinner whilst staying in touch with the latest episode of Made in Chelsea or its class illiterate sister, Geordie Shore.

Now, with regards to a garden, this has potential to be a great entertaining space. However, most students are pretty feckless when it comes to operating a mower. Rather than learning to simply appreciate overgrown grass and unspecified dog shit, find a property with plenty of private parking as opposed to a large garden, this will come in far greater use when you’re desperately low on gluten free quinoa and it’s minus three degrees outside. Now, whilst aesthetics don’t particularly matter, this is your first real property as an adult- aim for modern beauty or period features, this way you’ll feel proud to call your house your home.

And finally, who gets what?

You’ve signed the lease and established your guarantor. Naturally you are ecstatic, but put a pause on the Lambrini spritzers, it’s time to establish who gets which room. Previously you’d thought everyone was great. Tiff had such elegance in her speech and seemed a gentler spirit than one could possibly imagine. Wait until she has to vie for a king-sized double and subject you to a futon in the utility room, all of a sudden she’s turned into Ronda Rousey in her heyday.

Friendship is momentarily out of the window; how do you play it? The best thing to do is keep your head down, don’t put anything out in the open to corrupt the air and maintain a sense of diplomacy. Put your thinking cap on and ask ‘what would Bill Clinton do?’ – of course, drawing lots from a hat. Cheers Bill. Make it out to be the last resort and then opt to go first – this way you’re likely to avoid the joke room.

Hey, Presto, I’ve only gone and got the ruddy en-suite. Keep the elation to yourself, just furrow your eyebrows at Tiff and maintain that you’re content, she’ll know who’s won this battle when she’s trying to stage a one-nighter on top of a glorified sofa.

Hope I’ve been of help.

Until next time.

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