Category Archives: University Accommodation

Special Post #7: Accommodation, Part 5 – Zion

This is the 5th and final part of the now infamous multi-part series about the quest for a place to live in my second year at the University of Surrey. The story continues where it left off with me and Josh looking at houses early on Wednesday…

Here’s the map from the previous post so you can follow along:

Map picture

This is a map of all the houses we went to visit that day. Houses in visited order: top right in cluster of 3; top left in cluster of 3; far left; bottom left in cluster of 3; far right.

The second house was about 10 minutes walk from the first. It was on a quite residential road and was even offset from the road so as to include space to park a car.

Inside the house was really great. Downstairs had one bedroom (the largest in the house), a small-ish lounge with room for 5 people, a table and a TV. The back of the house had a long kitchen with the bathroom off it. Let me explain:

house GF

This is the ground floor. The toilet has a bath and shower. The kitchen is new (2008) and therefore has new hobs, cooker, fridges (yup, there are two!) and freezers (yup, that’s two as well).

house 1F 

The second bedroom is apparently the smallest, because it also has the water tank in it, otherwise all the bedrooms upstairs are of a similar size. They all have a washbasin in them, which I thought was a useful addition.

Me and Josh loved it! We both thought it was a great house, great location, good price, and an overall good place to live. After we’d viewed it I immediately rang the landlord to express our interest. Sadly, yet again, someone had beaten us to it…

Only kidding! We’d got it! He said that we had to pay our deposits before we were guaranteed the house, but that we were the first to say we wanted it. The problem now was that only me and Josh had seen the house. We can’t guarantee that the others would like it and we certainly couldn’t ask them to pay a deposit on a house they hadn’t even seen!

Either way, me and Josh returned to the university (a 20 minute walk) to get lunch. Then, at 2pm, we met up with our fellow housemates to tell them the good news.

The plan for the afternoon was to look at a few more houses (just in case) and then show everyone else the good house. We also had a “back-up” house that was in town and was quite expensive, so we only considered it as a last resort if we didn’t like any of the other houses.

The next house was in Park Barn, which has a reputation for being a rough area. It was an alright house, but it was a long way from the uni and the current owners had trashed it somewhat.

After a short walk we arrived at yet another house, this time only a stone’s throw away from the house me and Josh had loved that morning. This house was almost identical to that house, but with a few small differences:

  1. It had been decorated in lighter colours which made it feel more homely
  2. The lounge was larger and squarer
  3. The kitchen wasn’t as modern
  4. It had two showers and two toilets, but no washbasins in rooms

Overall, everyone really, really liked it. So much in fact that I rang the landlord to show our interest. Unfortunately, the house had already gone less than an hour before we called. So now all me and Josh could hope for was that everyone would really like the house we’d seen that morning.

We stepped in the front door and everyone was shown round like me and Josh had been that morning. They loved it! Even more than the last house because the kitchen was better and the rooms were slightly bigger. So I rang the landlord to confirm that we were still at the top of the pile, and we were!

That evening we all got an email asking for a deposit for the house.

A few days later, 12th March, we’d all paid and we finally got confirmation that we had the house! All we need to do now is to sign the contract, which we’re doing after Easter.

WOW! That’s it. Your up to date. Only 16 days late. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this journey as much as I have writing it and experiencing it.

PS why was the post called Zion? See if you can guess and I’ll tell you the answer in the next blog post.

Special Post #7: Accommodation, Part 4 – Going, Going, Gone – Part 2

Try and wrap your head around that title!

This is the second half of the 4th part of a multi-part series on the fight for second year accommodation. If you’ve forgotten where we left off, I don’t blame you, so had I. Basically we’d just seen a house none of us really liked, and were on our way to the next house…

The second house was on Hornbeam Road and turned out to be AMAZING! The rooms were HUGE, we came up with: 1 triple room, 1 large double room, 2 normal double rooms/large single rooms and a small room. However, the house was being renovated, as in they were still building the kitchen and hadn’t finished any rooms yet (although the rooms upstairs were nearly there). Here are some pics:

Image003

The triple room

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One of the double rooms

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The lounge?

So we were quite excited and rang the landlord to get the house. But guess what, yup, it had gone. And not only that but it had JUST gone. He’d just that second got off the phone with the other group. Sad faces attacked us from inside.

That night I rang a lot of landlords who had 5 bedroom houses only to find that they had ALL gone. I gave up at 8pm and rang home.

Dad gave me the willing to go and and I tried a few more landlords before I went to bed. The miraculous thing was that the last 3 landlords I rang ALL had a house still available. Result! So I began to arrange viewings for the next day…

Wednesday came around (this is the 25th February for those interested in how slow I am about revealing this information) and I rang a few more landlords before going to my lecture.

By 10am I had arranged 4 viewings for that day. By 10:30am I had a 5th. So me and Josh set off to view a few houses.

The first (a good 25minutes walk away) was alright. Essentially a 4 bedroom and a closet. So we moved on.

Map picture

This is a map of all the houses we went to visit that day. Houses in visited order: top right in cluster of 3; top left in cluster of 3; far left; bottom left in cluster of 3; far right.

The second house was amazing…

And we’ll have to leave it there for now folks. Join me again next time as we conclude the story of the great accommodation race, with a post titled “Zion”.

Special Post #6: Accommodation, Part 4 – Going, Going, Gone

This is the fourth part of a multi-part series about the wacky race to find a student house for next year before everyone else!

So after the failure of last weeks monstrosity, it was time for the university to issue the private accommodation list. I waited up until midnight to see the list (when I say waited, what I really mean is that I realised that it was past midnight so I checked it out).

The list had over 40 5 bedroom properties on it for us to consider. So I started making a list of all the houses that I liked.

When I woke up the next morning it was straight off to lectures. The problem was that Monday is a very busy day for everyone in the group so not much could be done in terms of looking at houses or ringing landlords. That evening I sent out a few emails to landlords, and Josh sent a few texts, but that was pretty much it.

On Tuesday morning it turned that that Josh had received a reply from one of the landlords about a house that was about 5 minutes walk away. We went down and had a look around (just the 2 of us because the others had lectures). As soon as we arrived the person showing us round (one of the tenants) told us that a group had already paid a deposit so the house was already taken. We looked round the house anyway so we had something to compare the other houses with later. The house was a bit small, but the rooms were an ok size. One of the rooms was really small and the lounge was pretty much a converted corridor.

Once we’d left the house Josh received another text from a landlord who had 2 houses that we could look at that afternoon. As Josh had labs and everyone else was also busy, I said that I would go it alone.

However, when we got back to campus it transpired that Will, Viv and Anne had managed to finish their labs half a day early, something that until now was unprecedented. So they said they’d join me in looking at the houses. Unlike the house me and Josh had seen that morning, these houses were about 20-30 minutes walk away from uni.

We got to the first house and had a look around. the bedrooms were a decent size and the living room was good. However, none of us were impressed by the kitchen nor did we particularly like the location.

After deliberating we decided that it was live-able in and we’d probably be happy to live there if we had to. With that in mind we went to see the second house…

Sorry, but we’ve ran out of time. I’m off to catch up with some old friends from before uni so I’ll continue this later.

Bye!

Special Post #5: Accommodation, Part 3 – The Quickening

This is the third post in a multi-part series of about the great adventure of looking for a student house for next year. We left off with the university’s plans for getting everyone accommodation…

So it’s Monday 23rd February. The university list for sublet property has just come out. That night me and my future housemates got together to go through the list and put down houses that we liked. It was interesting to see what factors people considered as the most important when looking for the houses. I was putting distance to university as my number 1 factor. It had to be within 10 minutes walk. Most of my housemates agreed that this was definitely a big deal, but some other factors bubbled up too:

  • Price. Obviously this was the deal clincher. If it was over £85 a week all inclusive (ie, including all bills) then it was too expensive. Currently, we were all paying about £80 a week, so this seemed reasonable.
  • Washing machine. It only seemed fair that the house should have a washing machine. If it didn’t then it needed to have a very good reason. Luckily all the houses on the list seemed to include a washing machine, so this wasn’t an issue.
  • Double Glazing. Now this seemed reasonable considering the varied weather and how cold it would be otherwise. Somewhat surprisingly (to me, anyway) was that double glazing wasn’t in all the properties.
  • Broadband access. I know! some of the houses didn’t even have broadband! This immediately wrote them off my list. Urgh! How can you live without broadband? (*cough* Graeme *cough*)

Overall, I thought the list would be about 30-40 houses long. But it turned out that there were only 10 5 bedroom houses on the list. Cutting it down to 7 wasn’t too difficult, but it was an interesting experience having to discuss these sorts of things to each other for the first time. Anyway, we managed to get the 7 and then it was just a matter of submitting it.

The next day (called Tuesday by those in the know) me and Josh went to the accommodation office to get a form. While we were there we were told by the guy about the process (see last post). He said the draw would be on Friday and then you have have to view the house over the weekend and decide by noon on Monday whether you wanted the house or not. The problem with that was you didn’t have a chance to look at any houses on the private list before you had to make a decision on the house.

Wednesday Josh set about filling out the form with everyone’s details, which was no mean feat considering that he needed to get the full names, courses and university numbers of each of us. However, by Wednesday evening Josh had done it!

It was only late Wednesday night that Josh realised something horrific. The applications were due in at 5pm on Wednesday. Profanity ensued…

First thing Thursday morning me and Josh go down to the accommodation office to beg and plead our way into the draw. Unfortunately neither of us are women, nor do we have the necessary skills required to seduce a 20-something male into letting us post our application. So we left not empty handed, but with the application form held tightly. Profanity ensued…

Never mind. There’s still the private accommodation list, right? There’s bound to be loads of houses on there that’ll be perfect and we can easily get. Surely…

Found out next time on Accommodation, Accommodation, Accommodation.

Special Post #4: Accommodation, Part 2 – University plans

This is the second post in a multi-part thriller about the rollercoaster journey that was (and still is!) house hunting. IF you haven’t already read the last instalment I’d advise you read that first.

The university have a very specific outline of how they help students find accommodation. Firstly they release a list (online) of all the “university managed housing”. This is essentially houses that the university rents from private landlords and then sublets to students on a fixed term. This list becomes accessible to all students at midnight on 23rd February.

Luckily the university have more sense than to make it first come, first served so instead each group can fill out a form to express interest in up to 7 houses on the list. The university then draws a ‘raffle’ where a first and backup group are randomly selected for each house on the list from everyone who was interested in renting that property. This seems like a very fair system in principle but it does mean that one group could potentially be selected at the first group for all 7 of their chosen houses.

Another down shot of this is that once selected as the first group for a property you view the house and then have 2 days to decide whether you want it or not.

But the university also release another list a week later, the private landlord list. It is essentially a list of all the student accommodation in Guildford. Any reputable landlord has their property and contact details listed. Unlike the university managed list, this one is first come, first served. It’s a matter of who can ring the landlord, arrange a viewing, view and get their deposit down before anyone else. Sound fair? Sounds deadly.

So you may be able to figure out that as I’m writing this the private landlord list has been out for 5 days. So did I manage to get a house? Was it easy? Was I chosen in the ‘raffle’ to get university managed housing? All in good time……

Stay tuned for part 3 – “The First List”

Special Post #3: Accommodation, Part 1 – Who?

This is the first of a multi-part series I’m going to write in the next few days about housing. This first part outlines finding my new housemates.

Back in December, me and Josh decided that we wanted to be housemates next year. But you can’t just have 2 people sharing a house, so we needed to find some more. We knew at the time that a group of 4 was ideal, and that one person either side of that was the limit.

Michael was our next call. I know Michael because he lives in Cathedral Court too. We watch Heroes together occasionally and go to comedy night. Michael agreed that living together was a great idea, so now we just need one.

Then Christmas came and went. It was now February. Knowing that we would need to be organised soon so we could start looking for houses, we set out on hunting once more. But wait! Michael, over the course of the Christmas holidays had made arrangements with other people (on his Chemistry course) to live with them. So it looks like back to square one.

Asking my current housemates bore no success: Sophie had found a group already, Mariana and Lauren had teamed up with one of Lauren’s friends from climbing club and her friend to create a group. Adam and Chris had both joined separate groups of people also.

It was time to ask people on our course. No luck. Stage crew? nope. And then we got somewhere…

Josh goes to church on Sunday’s with someone called Anne who does Chemistry. She is part of a group of three who are looking for someone to join them. Luckily they we’re OK with the idea of having a 5, so me and Josh met up with them.

Together we formed a group of 3 guys and 2 girls who were 2 engineers and 3 chemists. It looked like a plan.

So we all met up to see if we got on. There really great people. We like the same things (mainly geeky stuff) and had a great time meeting up.

This was on the 17th February. All was going well. But there was a fog looming…

Watch out for the next post to find out how the process the university uses to help us get accommodation, and how it wasn’t as simple as it first appeared………