My house is a medium-sized house on Portland street…a basic student house just outside town. It’s the usual structure where the downstairs second living room is converted to a bedroom, which is the one that I have as I’m living on the ground floor, with a nice little garden as well. There is also a canal nearby where we can go on walks so that’s nice.
What were you looking for in a house?
Initially, I wanted to live with a large group of eight to ten guys, but we couldn’t find that so we had to split into two fours. Now, I live with three other guys in a four-bedroom house. So, when you’re trying to find a house in Lancaster, you’ve got to be very considerate of how in demand the amount of people looking to live in the same house is available, because 8-person houses in Lancaster are very rare. It was important that the price matched and we have equal size rooms, where we all could’ve said that we are happy in the house no matter what room we got.
Why did you choose this house?
We chose this house because it’s got a nice mix of having a garden and a nice living area. Whereas last year was the opposite, we lived above a shop and we didn’t have a garden because it was right at the centre of town. But that was really nice in its own way because in second year we were going out more often and it’s more suitable for that. But for third year, it’s a lot more chill — we can have the garden and chill and I guess it’s the perfect tradeoff.
I also feel like we have a better experience with the landlord because it’s a family house. Last year, our landlord would be in the shop below us being really angry because we were disturbing his customers, allegedly, just by walking about too heavily-footed around the house and being a little bit noisy. But, this year, we are more respected as tenants because we’re just given our own place and the landlord actually comes and fixes any problems we have with the house. It’s good to have a nice professional relationship with your landlord. If you find a landlord that is rational who will just do work with you to try embody both interests and have a friendly, mutual relationship, that’s the better option.
What’s the difference living on-campus first year and off-campus since then?
First year I think is a time to be social – constantly hanging out with people, meeting new people and trying new things because of campus activities and socials with societies – and you’ll always be there and present for everything. Especially in the summer term, with Roses, it’s really just amazing because you can watch all these sports events with cider.
So, I do think that campus is really great for first year. But in second year, when you do want to wind down a bit and focus more on yourself rather than on your introduction to university, I think it’s better to live in town.
Joel’s advice for living off-campus:
I would say you’ve got to be smart with houses, make sure you’re not picking a house too far out from town even though they might be £80 a week (£10 less than the usual price) – we’ve looked at some of these houses but they’re very distant and you might be really socially isolated with only your housemates.
Ultimately, the most important thing is thinking about who you are going to live with and to balance the pressure of finding a house, but also the pressure of you’re going to live with these people for a whole year. I’ve found that in freshers, it’s a lot of pressure to pick a house for second year with people you’re not necessarily close with but are friends with because of the ‘freshers’ excitement.’ But, you’ve got to balance making sure you’ve chosen the right people because they are going to be the ones you hang out with 24/7 at off-peak times and when you’re revising – you don’t want to be stuck in a house with someone you don’t like. You need to find people with similar interests and that you have real connections with. Be very evaluative with who you are going to live with and make sure you’ve got a strong friendship with mutual respect. So, if there’s an issue, you can be open with them. You can work as a team and still live as a family together.
Try testing your relationship before getting a house together. Make sure their hygiene and the way they treat the house aligns with yours. Some people might be able to trick you in the first year by being clean in student accommodation’s shared kitchen but they might not do the same with your house.
I’m also going to suggest to try find a house before November or December. We did it as late January or February and we’ve just about got a good house, but there was none other left.