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The fresher’s guide to second-year house hunting

Let the battle commence

It's fast approaching that time of year again. Freshers' must group together to find that all important spot in the sought after Jesmond (or Heaton or Sandyford of course…), with people they’ve only known for six weeks, and will no doubt begin to hate over the coming months.

Unlike most other places in the country where students can wait until they have formed solid friendship groups and can leisurely choose a house for second year in second term, in Newcastle the annual bust up for the best spots to live begins as early as the end of October.

Finding your Housemates

Now, its all of our dreams to get on with our first year flatmates like a house on fire but the reality is usually something quite the opposite – what might seem like an idyllic flat at the beginning, will inevitably turn into war when two of your flat mates sleep together or when someone leaves their dirty pans festering in the kitchen for weeks.

If these problems come to the surface early on, you’re one of the lucky ones who had an easy escape and can look elsewhere for people to live with, but if you’re name is already signed at the bottom of that housing contract by the time you realize what they are really like…good luck.

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If living with your flat is out of the question, course mates are the obvious next thought. But one important thing to remember is that if living with people on your course means that you will be spending every waking moment with the same people, all six of you eating breakfast, walking to your lecture, sitting together in your lecture, walking back from your lecture together, it really is a never ending cycle and you’ll end up begging for some time apart.

Don’t panic if you’re efforts to find a decent house are failing, there are constant alternatives being posted on Leazes exchange throughout the rest of the year by students dropping out which can turn out really well.

The Horrors of Viewings

House viewings can be quite an experience, especially if you’ve never seen a student house before. Looking round a house with all boys currently living there may put you off, the estate agent will desperately try to convince you that the overwhelming smell of dirty washing and weed will definitely not linger next year, but the only thing on your mind is how you're going attack the obstacle course of boxes and drying racks in the corridor in front of you and make it out alive.

Try not to be put off by first impressions, once your bunting, fairy lights and photo wall is up next year you’ll barely be able to recognize the house and what you first saw on the viewing will be a thing of the past.

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Location, Location, Location

Sandyford, Gosforth and Jesmond all have their pros and cons as places to live as a student, but as I’m sure you are well aware, Jesmond is without a doubt the most popular. If you choose to follow the crowds and flock to Jesmond, exactly where you decide to live is a big deal.

If your priority is a social life, look to central Jesmond where you’ll always find an afters and never get any sleep. If you’re priority is not having to make the half an hour trek to uni every day, West Jesmond is the place for you. You can simply roll out of bed, thrown on whatever you can find in the ever growing mountain of clothes on your floor, watch the metro app until it says three minutes until the next one and you can simply walk down and hop on the train.

For the studious students, try living near your true home…the Robbo. The bottom end of Jesmond is surprisingly close to the library and means you can spend all your time there doing all your extra reading whilst everyone else wastes their tuition fees by skipping lectures because they can’t be bothered to walk into uni.

How to not get the box room

There are several options you can take when deciding who gets what room. The classic ‘pick out of a hat’ method will almost always end in an argument when someone kicks off because they’re in the room next to the guy who always has his girlfriend over and the beds are only separated by a wall made of pretty much cardboard.

Choosing your own bedrooms can work out well, except if the only room left is the box room, where you can barely fit in the furniture and are forced to downsize to a single bed. There is always going to be someone not happy about which room they’ve got, so the best way to sort it is to do a deal with them, perhaps paying slightly less for the room, which is only fair.

As complicated as it sounds, finding a second year house is easy, and the estate agents know that students have absolutely no idea what they are doing, so help as much as they can. Just don’t get stuck sorting the bills once you’ve moved in.