1. Reflect on your first year
Have a think about the things which really annoyed you during first year, and do your best to avoid these! Girls, if you hated living with boys (and vice versa) then opt for a single sex house. Same goes with if you’ve got party mad friends but you prefer an early night in preparation for your 9am, or you’re a clean person and hate mess – take everything like this into consideration.
2. Think money
When deciding who to live with, make sure you check each other's budgets. It can be a nightmare if some people in the group want to find a cheaper house and others want to look more upmarket at dearer, luxury student housing. When looking at houses, my group of friends set a budget we were all happy with and stuck to it, so there were no arguments.
3. Look at the house itself
Some people may think the cheaper the better – but when it comes to uni housing, you can definitely see a difference in standards with the money you’re paying. Similar to the above point, some people might just want the cheapest house on the market, which is fine, but if you’re steering more towards a comfy sofa and a flat screen TV, maybe another group would suit you better.
4. Consider size
While moving into a big house might sound fun, it can sometimes become a hindrance. I lived in a ten-bed house in second year, and while it was great during Fresher's week, the novelty soon wore off and ten people living together didn’t always run smoothly. On the other hand, living in a house with only one or two others might get boring when they’re both in uni or at home for the weekend.
5. Make sure you know what you're signing up for
Do you know what your friends get up to in their spare time? Will it annoy you if your band member housemate is up rehearsing in the morning, or if your sporty friend draws the short straw for hosting predrinks for their big social night out? Make sure you’re aware of what hobbies and interests your potential new house mates have – and decide whether you’ll love or hate any of them.
6. Spread your wings
Hopefully you’ve had a great time getting to know the people in your flat, but don’t feel you have to move in with your flat mates just because that’s what you’re used to. You might want to push the boat out and choose a different group of friends. It could be people from your course, society, sport or even friends you know from partying. I lived in a mix of my flat mates, my course mates and then their flat mates – it was interesting to live with such a wide variety of people!
7. Think friends, not romance
A good rule to stick by is don’t live with someone you’re dating or attracted to. I’ve heard so many stories of people rushing to move in with their newfound uni love, only for things to turn stale post contract signing – awkward!
8. Be selfish
With choosing who to live with, put your own feelings first and do what’s best for you. Where first year was potluck on whether you’d like the people you were living with - you have the choice of who you’re going to share your student house with. If you’re stuck deciding between different groups of people to live with, imagine yourself doing everything with both groups. Ask yourself which group you could happily spend more time with and go with them. And don’t let anyone pressure you!
9. Can't find the right flat mates?
Remember, if you don’t feel like you’ve found the people you want to live with, don’t panic about having to live alone. You can opt to live in halls again, or other people may be looking for people to live with. Another good opportunity is when a space in a house comes free, normally due to someone having to give up their tenancy. Student groups on Facebook and the Unipol Notice Board are a great way to search for housemates, have a look!
Finally, if you move in and think you’ve made the wrong choice, don’t worry because student lettings are one-year contracts. You don't have to live with the same people for the rest of your time at uni – just repeat the steps above to find a different group for third year.