With the house-hunting craze bound to start again now we’re into November, I’d like to provide some reassurance and tips to help you cope through the chaos. Everyone else might be rushing to find their housemates and the perfect location, but I recommend you take your time to consider how you want to live next year. These are a few questions you might want to think about before you take the plunge and put a deposit on a house:
Do you want to live in Leamington Spa, Coventry or Kenilworth?
Leamington is the most popular accommodation option for second and third years at Warwick. Leamington definitely has the most vibrant social scene, with a wide range of restaurants, bars and clubs. It has a great atmosphere, but it is quite far from campus. The commute can take more than an hour at peak times, so if you hate public transport, this might be worth bearing in mind.
Coventry is also quite popular, especially the Earlsdon and Canley areas. Earlsdon and Canley are much cheaper than Leamington, so this might be a good choice if you’re on a tight budget. Canley is also close to Cannon Park, which is useful for your weekly grocery shop. It is also convenient to be located close to Canley Station, which has regular trains going to London and Birmingham. Coventry is generally perceived to be less safe than Leamington, however.
And then there’s Kenilworth, a quaint town located between campus and Leamington. Despite it only being a 15-minute bus ride from campus, few undergraduates seem to live in Kenilworth. Kenilworth is much quieter than Leamington and Coventry, and tends to attract more postgraduate students. However, it has a nice park called Abbey Fields, the famous Kenilworth Castle and a high street with a few good shops and restaurants.
Do you want to walk, cycle, drive or take the bus to campus?
How you plan to get to university can have a major impact on where you might want to live. I chose to live in Kenilworth as the Greenway from Kenilworth to Cryfield Village is the best cycle route into campus.
If you prefer to walk to campus every day, living in Canley is probably your best option, as the journey takes between 15 and 20 minutes by foot. If you’ve got your heart set on either Earlsdon or Leamington, you’ll probably end up taking the bus. But the commute from Earlsdon is much shorter than from Leamington.
Do you want to live with a large group of people, a few close friends, or alone?
Large houses tend to be livelier than smaller flats, as you’ll always have someone around. However, a house with more than five or six people can get quite chaotic, especially in terms of keeping the kitchen clean, sorting out bills, and rubbish collection. Living with a smaller number of people allows you to bond much more and build deeper relationships, but it can become very quiet if all of your friends are out.
Living alone is not very popular in the UK, but it is common in other European countries. I ended up living alone this year, and I’m really enjoying the fact that my kitchen is always clean and that I can do my washing, dishes and other chores whenever I please. It also makes studying less stressful as I’m surrounded by working professionals, and this helps when you need an escape from the Warwick bubble. Of course, living alone also means you need to accept for responsibility for all bills and maintenance, and it can be more expensive than sharing a flat.
Do you want an ensuite or are you comfortable sharing a bathroom?
There are far fewer ensuite rooms off-campus, so if this is a big priority for you, it might limit your accommodation options. Many people feel a lot more comfortable with an ensuite, as you only have to clean up after yourself, but you’ll probably have to shell out a bit more on rent.
As a last piece of advice, take your time to think about these issues carefully, as there’s nothing worse than rushing and being stuck in a contract you’re not happy with.
While you might be concerned that all the good houses will be gone, this is definitely not true! You can still find good accommodation options in term two and even term three – I signed my contract for this year’s flat at the beginning of June. Some landlords and letting agents even keep back a selection of houses until later, just to make you think that they’re disappearing quickly. So take your time, don’t worry too much and find the best house for you.