University is hard. There are essays to write, pasta to boil, laundry to do and at this time of the year, figure out where and with whom you’re going to be living with next semester.
Your ideal living situation definitely comes down to what type of person you are: obsessed with a smooth shiny kitchen worktop, bins being taken out regularly, no dust? Or you perhaps find that messy desks keep your creative juices flowing?
Your friends don’t necessarily make the best flatmates. Living with someone means having to deal with their unfortunate hygiene habits and other idiosyncrasies (like leaving the bathroom lights on and having the heating on 12 hours a day). Who hasn’t heard stories of best friends moving in together, and not being best friends anymore? On the other hand, it can also mean that you develop a stronger and deeper bond with the individual and become even closer friends and support, care and inspire each other every day. Think of choosing flatmates as choosing people you run into every day, multiple times a day, and take it from there.
Communication is vital for a happy flat: but don’t be brutally honest, be politely honest. One of the trickiest, most sensitive discussions you can have with friends about living together is the amount of personal space you want to give each other, and if you can handle mid-essay season breakdowns with some emergency hot-chocolate that’s a good sign.
If you don’t have anyone to live with next year, or would simply rather live alone, don’t worry! There are alternative accommodation arrangements such as living alone or being a Resident Assistant (RA) in university halls.
As an ex-RA, I can say that it can be an extremely rewarding role and can sometimes feel like you’re getting paid to live in your own room! The pressure to show up for office hours and be in on duty nights can help form a healthy routine and keep life organised. Additionally, the community of fellow RAs and freshers is like having people who watch out for you, people who you watch out for, and plenty of personal space at the same time. But sadly, living in student halls for more than two years can make the flats start to feel a bit mechanical and soulless and the joy of watching a fresher discover Big Cheese and VKs really dries up when you’re worried about getting into Honours.
Living in a one-person flat or a studio can mean you’re enjoying perfect privacy and starting to come of age as an individual with lots of your own space. We spoke to a third-year student, who’s been living in a studio for two years to see what it’s like: “In the second year, a friend had a studio in the same building as myself, so I never felt like I was alone. She’d always be popping by, and we’d make dinner together. It was the best of both worlds. Third year is when my perspective changed. A lot of my closest friends went on exchange, and I think that’s when I really started to feel lonely. See, I’m the type of person who’s perfectly happy spending a Thursday night chilling by myself binge-watching a show on Netflix but after a while, it does get tiring. You start craving human contact.” So if you do decide to live alone, make sure you have friends nearby if you begin to feel lonely.
Another option is to get a room in a private student accommodation. A second-year student who moved into a room in a flat at a private student accommodation said “I felt like a studio would make me feel quite low and university is the time to go about and meet people So I booked a room in a student accommodation hoping I’ll have happy and clean flatmates and now we party, bake and go food shopping together. So that worked out well!” Collegiate, UNITE and the Student Housing Company all offer private accommodation for students in Edinburgh.
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