It’s that time of year when students start panicking about housing for the next year. But don’t fret! Help is at hand. In a new regular feature, follow these lovable Hedgehogs to see how they deal with their own problematic house! This week, Thor recounts how he went about choosing his housemates, and finding a house to live in… Even if the house did turn out to be a bit broken!
Seeing all the freshers running around the streets of Exeter frantically searching for a house is bringing back memories of when I was in a pickle thinking about who to live with.
By November I was surprised at how many of my friends had already been forming groups and going off to find houses through estate agents, some of them had even signed contracts! It all felt a bit fast, I had only known my new friends for 10 weeks. Call me a commitmentphobe but decisions like these would never be made this fast in the real world; imagine moving in with your girlfriend after only 10 weeks!
What’s more, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be living with my friends from halls in a year’s time. Don’t get me wrong, we got on just fine, but I felt there were some underlying tensions that could have escalated during the year. My closest friends were at Woodland Creatures Society, and I was quite keen to live with my fellow hedgehogs Bert and Erica, but it felt a bit strange to approach them about living together when we hadn’t been friends for very long. It had been playing on my mind and on top of adjusting to university life it was just an extra worry.
But then one morning as I was shuffling through the cold forum on my way to my Animal Behaviours lecture I spotted a stall called the Housing Campaign. Perfect! I had a chat with the guys on the stall and they said it’s absolutely fine not to know what you want to do at this stage and it’s still very early to be looking for a house. They explained to me the different stages of the housing process and we were still in the stage of looking at who you want to live with- phew! The Housing Fair wasn’t even until January and there would be a whole bunch of accredited landlords and their properties. They said the majority of second and third year students don’t get their houses till well after Christmas because they understand from experience that rushing into a house can go awfully wrong.
I didn’t want to rush into a house with my flat mates Franklin Fox and Barry Badger and then lose them as friends if we argue. Another great thing they told me was that the Students’ Guild Advice Unit does free contract checks before you sign to make sure your landlord is being fair, just take it up to their office on the first floor of the forum. This is such a great service and stopped us making some quick decisions that might’ve lost us lots of money.
I felt so much better having spoken to the friendly guys at the stall, I’ve seen them again in the forum this year and went to say thanks for all their reassurance. I went to tell all my friends there’s no need to rush and maybe we should see how we feel after Christmas. That way I was able to see who I felt most comfortable with, as I would be seeing them every day for a year and I wanted to be in a happy environment for when the work kicked in! Although, nothing will ever compare to my cosy little hedgerow back home in the forest for these cold winter months!
So in the end I convinced my friends to take it easy and think about it over the Christmas holidays and I came back and made the decision to the live with Bert and Erica. It can be really difficult telling people you’re not going to live with them, but if you make sure you’re tactful and considerate, you will still have your friendship intact. I’m very happy now living with Bert and Erica who became my best friends over first year and so glad I decided to wait and not rush into a house with Franklin and Barry. I still see them quite regularly and I think we get on much better is year than when we were living together. Although I’m very happy with my housing situation, we have started facing a few troublesome issues with the house… More on that next week!
Thor the Hedgehog