Category Archives: University Accommodation

Special Post #35: Accommodation, Part 12 – The End of Year 2: Part 6 – A Change of Plan

Another post in the on-going series about all things to do with where I lay my head at night. It’s also part 6 in the almost-over-series about the week following my last second year exam, which was also coincidentally my last week in my first ever house, and the first few days in my second house!

In a post a couple of months ago I talked about my plans for living on my placement year. It was a hard decision to live in Guildford, but Basingstoke is only an hour’s commute away and getting to spend another year close to all my friends at university had to be done.

Josh had been asked by his best friend, Chris Nash, to live with him next year. Together with Chris Nash’s housemate Chris Ashton and me, we had enough people to get a house. Ashton and Nash looked at houses and eventually found one they liked. Josh and I looked around and agreed to get it. It was really exciting to know that I had a house with Josh next year, but even better given how great the house was!

Since then we’ve got together once as a house to meet the estate agent and pay the holding deposit for the house.

The tenancy for the house didn’t start until the middle of August, so between the end of June and mid-August I had nowhere to live. At first I was going to go home for 6 weeks and commute to Basingstoke from London, but then a few of my friends told me that they had a spare room I could use…

Frankie and Claire from MAD TV had a room in their house that they hadn’t found a housemate for yet. They needed a 5th housemate for the whole year and I was their first choice. At first I declined living with them for the whole year because I was already planning on living with Josh, but I told them I could live there for 6 weeks over summer. This made the commute a lot easier, and meant being in Guildford for Guilfest, Phil’s graduation and other things. It was a done deal, all they needed to do was find someone to take the other 11 months and I could pay them back the months rent.

The reason I declined to live there for the whole year at first was because I didn’t want to let Chris and Josh down by backing out of the house deal now. The Thorpe Park trip last week was meant to be a time to meet Chris and Chris and find out more about the people I was going to live with for a year. In the end, Chris Ashton had to cancel and Chris Nash spent the whole day with Josh and Jess and not everyone else. That was the chance I had to get to know my future housemates before living with them. That evening I did a lot of thinking.

Since my other friends still hadn’t found a 5th housemate, and I still hadn’t signed a contract for the house, I was in a position to make a decision. Do I stick to my guns and live with Josh in a great house, but possibly not get on with Chris and Chris? Or do I live with Frankie and Claire, who I know I get on with? There were other factors that went into the decision that aren’t fair to go into on a public blog, but it’s fair to say it wasn’t easy, at all.

A month prior I had to make the same decision when Claire and Frankie asked me for the first time. Since then I’d kind of been regretting saying no, but at the same time knew it was the only choice without a lot of hassle which I couldn’t deal with on top of my exams. But a month later, with a fresh head and new information, I changed my mind.

I chose to do what I wanted to do rather than what I had to do to please other people. I told Josh the following day and he understood that I’d been thinking about it for a while.

If you’ve managed to follow all of that then well done, it was a spaghetti of a situation and I’m still untangling the ends. but the long and the short of it is that I’m living with a different set of people next year in a different house. I’ll write a post very soon about them all and the house, but tomorrow is another post about my last week in Zion :) So much happening…. phew!

Special Post #34: Accommodation, Part 11 – The End of Year 2: Part 5 – Goodbye Zion

This is part of the on-going series about home sweet homes. It is also Part 5 of the also on-going-but-not-for-much-longer series about the rollercoaster of events that took place after my last exam in year two and in my last week living in my first ever house!

For the last year I have been living in a 5-bedroom house about 20 minutes walk from campus. We dubbed it ZION.

Zion was, and will forever be, my first house. It’s been a fantastic experience, and even better given how good our landlord has been with any problems we’ve had.

A top tip I’d give to anyone looking at sharing a house ever is to get a joint account. We used it to pay rent and bills. Just by putting an extra £30 in each every month meant we could easily pay bills without having to chase people up about money every month. However, save your sanity and avoid Natwest at all costs!

I’d also suggest anyone to get a rota for cleaning. We didn’t and it definitely showed. Over time little jobs like the washing up become mammoth tasks, but if everyone had done a little bit every week then it may have worked out a lot better for everyone.

You learn so much about people when you live with them. I didn’t really know Anne, Will or Viv before living with them this year, yet I can’t imagine it without them. Looking back now, I’ve only ever known them as housemates, potential housemates or otherwise, and it’s going to be strange going forward staying in touch as just friends. But I have this year and Zion to thank for introducing us (and Josh of course :P). I know that we will all stay friends for life :)

Josh, on the other hand, was my best friend last year, so I already knew his as a friend before we decided to live together. But even then, this year has only strengthened our friendship. I had my doubts that being on the same course and living in the same house would be overkill, but it was quite the opposite. It’s been so helpful with coursework and revision that I literally don’t know how I’d have coped half the time if Josh wasn’t only a walls width away. Especially in the year after Christmas when we’ve been in the same lab group and doing lots of work together.

As this great year comes to a close, I can’t help but think how unique this experience was. It couldn’t have been better, I wouldn’t change a thing and I couldn’t have wished for better housemates. I’ll miss tickle time, Anne laughing at nothing, Will’s strange eating habits (how many times I watched as he cooked fish finger sandwiches I don’t know), Josh’s wall knocking and singing in the kitchen and Viv’s weird noises. Forever Zionites.

The next part in the accommodation series, and the End of Year 2 series, is about my new house and housemates and why I’m no longer living with Josh next year…

Special Post #32: Accommodation, Part 10 – A New Adventure Awaits

It’s been a long time since I gave an update on the housing situation, so here it is! This is, of course, the very-on-going series about houses and me.

So far this series has focused on my experiences searching, finding, getting, arranging, moving into and subsequently living in my first house. It was a rollercoaster journey, and still is in some ways, although now I’m just living the dream rather than making sure the dream happens.

My current house is great, my housemates are amazing and the landlord is very helpful. It’s been a brilliant home for my second year at university and a completely different experience to living in halls last year. So much so that I think I’ve actually enjoyed living in the house this year more than living in halls, just because there’s such a nice atmosphere here. I might be a bit biased because I also love cycling to university everyday, it’s such a great way to get your head in gear and wake up before the day starts.

Next year is going to be completely different again, with my placement at Sony in Basingstoke lined up for 12 months. Since the start of 2010, when placement hunting really kicked in full time, I started to wonder where I’d live next year. It was a very hard question to answer at the time since I had no way of knowing where I would be working, and until that was set in stone, looking for houses would be like looking for a shoe without knowing the wearer.

I didn’t want to get a house in Guildford if it would be easier to live at home, and Josh was in the same position. We talked about it often and one day came to the conclusion that doing something was going to be more productive than doing nothing. At the time Josh knew two other housemates looking for a house in Guildford who needed two more housemates to get a 4-bedroom house. Josh was good friends with them both, so we agreed to be a four for the time being.

Josh’s friends then started looking at 4-bedroom houses. All the while Josh and I were still looking for placements. Occasionally Josh was told that they’d looked at a house, but they didn’t want it; and this continued for weeks.

Then I got the Sony placement. A week and a half later, Josh’s friends found a house they wanted to live in. Josh went to have a look and said it was amazing, so the following day all four of us met up for the first time and viewed the house together.

It was the first time I’d met my housemates, and the first time I’d gone to view a house this year. Believe me this house is amazing. The rooms are much bigger than the ones in our house at the moment, and it’s getting a new kitchen for when we move in. It’s closer to uni than we are at the moment (and closer to the railway station). I was blown away.

As for Josh’s friends, Chris and Chris (who I will now refer to as Nash and Chris to avoid confusion), I’d met Nash before and we get on really well, and Chris and I had an interesting talk and got on immediately. So it was a done deal.

That evening Josh and I went to their house for dinner and I got to know them both a bit more. Nash is a second year Maths student, and has just stepped down as president of the Christian Union. Josh and Nash lived in halls together last year and are pretty much best friends. Chris is a first year PHD student working at the Surrey Satellite Centre and currently lives with Nash.

Chris is going to be our lead tenant and he is very kindly organising all the paperwork at the moment so we can sign the tenancy for the house ASAP.

We are going to move into the house mid-August, so I’ll be living at home for a few months when I start work at Sony.

Overall, the decision to live in Guildford again next year, instead of living at home, was tough. But in the end, being close to my friends who aren’t going on placement, and being able to live with Josh for another year is going to be incredible, and made it a no-brainer!

Special Post #21: Accommodation, Part 9 – 1 Month In

So I haven’t done a special post in a while, so enjoy this one. Funnily enough this is the 10th post in this multi-part series-now-more-of-a-category set of posts about living in my first ever house!

I feel like me and my housemates have come a long way since the start of this journey. It’s a tough task just finding housemates to start with, but I can see now that it couldn’t have worked out better.

We all moved in at the start of October, give a take a day or two. And for the first week we weren’t all seen in the same room at the same time. Fresher’s week was like that. So lets meet the gang:

  • Anne. The resident Doctor Who fanatic. No seriously, you’d be hard pushed to find anyone as enthusiastic about Doctor Who as Anne. But to say that this tells you anything about Anne would be very wrong. Sure, she’s into comics and films a bit more than the average female, but she’s also very focused on work and very caring towards everyone. If you can’t get on with Anne then there’s something wrong with you, she really is Momma Anne…
  • Viv. Completes the line-up of girls in the house. I have to be disappointingly honest when I say that I haven’t spent that much time with Viv. This isn’t by any means an active decision because Viv is a great housemate. She has an slight addiction to Mafia Wars, but she’s a great laugh all the time.
  • Will. President of the Chemistry Society, which not only makes him a very busy man, but also means I get to meet lots of Chemistry people I never knew before! He loves electro-dance music and walks in the rain (I made that last part up).
  • Josh. The one on my course, the one I knew before and the one I call my best friend…. whatever you want to call Josh he’s a great guy. Very active member of the Christian Union, which takes up a lot of his time, but also plays Rugby and Football in his spare time. We go to lectures together and help each other with work.

How do I get so lucky with my housemates!

As for the other things you worry about when you live in a house, they’re all happening well so far. Rent has all been paid on time using our joint bank account, and once bills start coming in we should be good to go for paying them.

We turned the heating on for the first time last week. It was me who caved, but I was really cold! It comes on in the evenings and hot water is set for the mornings and tends to stay hot for the rest of the day.

Getting to uni is great. Josh, Will and I have bikes that we use to cycle in, it takes me about 4 minutes now from door-to-bike rack. It’s good times, except when I get a puncture which has happened twice now…

It seems that we’re all quite busy so we don’t tend to all be in of an evening very often. But there are occasion when we end up sitting in the living room with our dinners and catch up with what each other has been up to.

Shall I compare thee to last year? It’s hard to because they’re very different experiences. Living in halls was very sociable because everyone was so close, and I got on so well with my housemates that we would just spend hours and hours talking (I’m largely referring to Sophie there…) I’m really enjoying this year, going to other people’s houses and meeting up with friends for lunch, it’s a very different feel to last year but in a good way. Last year was what it was and this year so far is even better!

Special Post #15: Accommodation, Part 8 – Part 2

Let me explain that… it’s part 8 of the accommodation series, and the title of this part is ‘part 2’ because it’s a follow on from the post I did yesterday. Got it? never mind…

On Sunday I had the mis-pleasure of not having the car to carry my life to the house. Instead, I’d worked through a compromise. I took what I thought were the essentials for living in a house for a few days that had no cutlery or plates or anything. Sleeping bag and a saucepan should do it. Then Mum would travel down on Tuesday with the rest, at witch point I could stop living in the house like a homeless tramp.

So i bore the journey to the house using a Bombay mix of public transport, finishing the journey my foot. I was welcomed with my landlord fitting a new toilet seat and his wife cleaning the kitchen. Good times. They showed me around (probably my 4th showing by this point) and I moved my ridiculously small suitcase into my new room.

A few minutes later, Will arrived with his girlfriend. We took another tour of the houses (but who’s counting?) and then chilled in the garden. Then Gibbo turned up. Gibbo isn’t one of the housemates, but he’s staying while GuilFest is on.

We looked in the drawers of the kitchen expecting to find bare wood, but instead found an IKEA of cup, plates, bowels, cutlery, pans…everything! Then, after giving us the obligatory speech about when the rubbish is collected and where the breakers and meters are, the landlord left.

Get the grand tour of the house in 60 seconds (ok, 80 seconds… but we tried)

What’s that? You want to see pictures detailing every last inch of the house? why, of course!

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my room

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the view of the garden from my room

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Viv’s room

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The upstairs corridor

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Josh’s room

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the rest of Josh’s room

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Will’s room

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Anne’s room downstairs

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Living room

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the amazing kitchen

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the other end of the kitchen, with Gibbo taking a picture. Behind Gibbo is the toilet

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the door to the garden

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the house from the garden (excuse the pile of leaves)

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in my room :)

I love the house! The only problem I’ve found with it so far is the shower. It spits out small splashes of water, and the ones that are lucky enough to find your body cause 3rd degree burns. It’s a very intricate art to find the balance between smoulderingly hot and freezing cold. One I’m yet to master…

Special Post #14: Accommodation, Part 7 – Another way

Another post in the very on-going accommodation series about the foibles of getting a house

By now you should know that getting a house is a lot of work. Since signing the tenancy agreement a couple months ago things have been crawling along nicely. On the 5th July we will officially be able to live in the property. This is good because it happens to coincide with GuilFest, the Guildford music festival that I’m working with stage crew for. This is bad because it means paying rent. This is bad because it means having a bank account organised to pay rent from. This is bad because of NatWest. I feel a story coming on….

Our landlord wants us to pay our rent together. In order to do this we needed to find a way we could all pay into one bank account and then use that account to pay the rent. Simple, right? Well, in order to make it as fair and “jointly liable” as possible we opted to go for a 5-way joint account where all of us were account holders. This would avoid a situation where the person who the account is registered to is constantly chasing everyone else to pay up because it’s their neck on the line.

To make things as simple to manage as possible I decided to open the account with the NatWest on campus, so if there were any issues down the road, it was only a short walk away to fix them. So we all got together in the last week of term and went off to the bank with our forms. One of the things we all put on our forms was that we’d like to setup online banking to make it easier to manage the account. We managed to open a joint account with 2 account holders, but everyone else couldn’t be put on because they didn’t have valid proof of address (we’re supposed to have a recent bill addressed to our home addresses, but because we’ve been living at uni, it was hard to get them). Either way, we had the start of an account that we could use for now.

A week or so later I got a load of letters from NatWest with all the account information, including how to register for online banking. So I followed the instructions and registered. However, the website showed that their we’re no accounts. It wasn’t working. It turns out that you can’t have online banking for joint accounts. So why do they give you the option on the form! So there must be another way to check the balance of your account, right? Well, yes, there’s telephone baking. Ah, but your account doesn’t exist. Excuse me? Yes, there is no such account number. So that’s good news.

I’m left in the position where I may or may not have a bank account which may or may not have a standing order to the landlord and may or may not accept payments into it. All with only a week before the first rent payment is due. Good times. Thanks for nothing NatWest, all I can hope is that there is “another way”…

Special Post #9: Accommodation, Part 6 – “Sign here: ____________________________”

That’s right, it’s back! This is now the 6th part of the 5 part series. The first 5 parts covered all the key points up to getting a house: getting housemates, looking at lists, looking at houses, not getting a house, looking at more houses and finally getting a house. Now the story takes its new turn: living in a house! But… before we get there (because we’re not there yet!) we have to cover the final piece in the ‘getting a house’ puzzle: signing the tenancy agreement and meeting the landlord. Enjoy :-)

Today we signed the tenancy agreement on the house! We met with the landlord at 7pm to ask questions and do the deed. Earlier in the day we’d all met up for the first time since our celebrations over 6 weeks ago. We caught up and read through the agreement together. Also talked about a few things that were bothering us like who’s room is who (now sorted) and about paying rent.

Signing was very painless, but its good to finally know that we definitely have a house: signed, sealed and delivered. We met the landlord and his wife who seem very friendly about everything and very good landlords. One of the current tenants also said how good they were at fixing things, so that gives us a good impression. We also took the opportunity to take another sneaky peek around the house. This time Will took pictures of every room and even a video! So I’ll get that up here as soon as I have it.

It’s becoming more and more apparent how great this is going to be next year. The more I get to meet everyone, the more we seem to get along. Stay tuned to hear about how life is living in a house! I know we’ve got plenty of time yet, but a little anticipation never hurt anyone!