Choosing Your Second-Year Accommodation

by Alix Leonard

Hi, I’m Alix, one of the Digital Content Ambassadors for Lancaster University. I’ve just started my third year studying English Literature, and am part of Lonsdale College.

With the hunt for next year’s accommodation coming up, I thought it would be helpful to share some insight to new/first-year students who are starting to feel the pressure and anxieties about choosing where and who to live with next year, and hopefully point you towards where you can go for other options!

Comfort over norms

Anxious about the idea of having to ‘race’ to the best housing with the best group of people? Because I definitely was. Despite being in my third and final year at Lancaster, this year is the first time I am living with my friends off-campus. Why? Because my first-year self felt exactly how I imagine most of you are feeling at this time: confusion, uncertainty, alienation… After all, you’ve just met these people – so how can you be sure you want to spend a whole year living with them next year? So after not sleeping from overthinking about it for about a week, I decided to do that thing called ‘do[ing] what you’re comfortable with’. In my case, it was to choose to live by myself, but in town. For others, it might be to stay on campus. And that’s okay.

Indeed, there is a particular pattern or ‘norm’ for accommodation that the typical Lancaster student follows: on-campus (college) accommodation in first year, off-campus (city) accommodation in second year, and then whichever they prefer (or is available) in their final year(s). In fact, most of the people I know have been doing this. But that doesn’t mean it has to be you too!

Lancaster university campus accommodation exterior

Remember: although it is an important decision, choosing who to live with and where isn’t one that you feel you have to take immediately. This is a predicament quite a few of my first-year friends found themselves in; and honestly, looking back, I don’t know why we all put so much pressure on ourselves. There are always options available, no matter what time of the year you feel ready to start looking. Yes, houses go quickly, but there are so many options, they’ll probably never run out. It took me three months to figure out what I wanted to do, and for some others, it took even longer. And again, that’s okay! You don’t have to meet your best friends in the first few months of uni, and immediately agree to live together. These things take time.

View of Lancaster castle across rooftops

City accommodation

So now to start thinking about your options. Do you see yourself living on or off campus? If on-campus, be sure to apply through your accommodation portal. But what if you’re thinking about living off-campus next year?

The first step I’d recommend is looking at the University’s Undergraduate Accommodation page, and/or the Lancaster University Homes website. These are honestly the holy grail for students who want to live in town. Get on the LU Homes website, and find out what variety of options are open to you. Have a browse across the different categories. Do you really want to live in a house with people you’re not sure you’ll still be friends with next year? Or would you rather ‘take a year out’ and wait until you’ve consolidated some friendships, before making the big move?

If you’ve already identified a group of friends you’d like to live with – great! You can use the information on the website to get in contact with the owners, and arrange some house viewings. But if (like me) you feel more comfortable going solo, have a look at the variety of different options – from living in halls to renting a spare bedroom or even getting your own studio. There’s plenty of variety of accommodation out there: it’s all about finding what you’re more comfortable with based on what you can afford.

Chancellor's Wharf

One of the best places you can go to as a ‘transition’ between college accommodation to living in the city is living in halls. Indeed, Chancellor’s Wharf is Lancaster University’s own city-based accommodation. Located along the canal, it’s right opposite the Water Witch pub (a personal favourite). This accommodation is not only great for individual students who would prefer a smoother transition, but also for groups who prefer University-managed accommodation.

You can request to live with your friends, or you can apply by yourself – and meet loads of new people! It’s a completely personal choice, and one you shouldn’t have to feel guilty about making.

Spare rooms

Even if you haven’t made any decisions or signed a contract by Easter time, there’s always going to be a spare room up for rent in the city. LU Homes has a separate section dedicated to searching available spare rooms – but you can probably find some on other websites or social media. Quite a few people choose to do this, visiting the room that is available, and meeting other members of the house before moving in (or not!)

Chancellor's wharf accommodation
Alix and her mum in her room

Final thoughts

Although this seems like a really nerve-racking time, try to remember that you’re not obliged to live a certain way or with certain people, just because that’s what you’re pressured into thinking. It’s okay to value your own preferences, or to not instantly click with the first people you meet. University is a three-(or more)-year experience; the first three months will not define you, or set you with certain people for your whole time there.

Throw yourself in the mix; meet interesting individuals; try new things; all while keeping in mind your own needs and personal boundaries. But most importantly, make the most of it while you’re here, and enjoy it!