Moving to university can be a scary time. Even if you’re already in your first year, thinking about your accommodation for the next academic year can be just as daunting.
There are lots of things to think about when planning where to live, but one of the main questions is “can you choose who you live with at uni?” The answer? YES. Here’s a few tips on how:
Accommodation types 🏠
The first step is looking at all of the accommodation options available to you. For more details explaining each type check out our blog on types of student accommodation. The type of accommodation you choose can change if you are able to select who you live with. For example, ‘halls of residence’ AKA student halls, take your application and place you with people they think you would be best suited with. There are a few options where you can ask to be placed with a certain person, or a certain group of people e.g. all female, but this is not always the case. Student halls are usually a popular choice for first years - especially those who don’t know anyone they are starting university with as this is a good way to get to know new people and sometimes make lifelong friends.
The type of accommodation can also impact whether or not you have an en-suite or a shared bathroom. Knowing this can also sway your decision to choose your flatmates or let the fates decide.
The size of the accommodation you’re looking at will affect how many people you can live with. It’s a good idea to have in mind the amount of rooms you’d like your accommodation to have before you start asking people to move in. You don’t want to end up in the awkward situation where you’ve asked too many friends and one of them has to get the chop because you can’t find a big enough house or flat.
Who should I ask? 🤔
There’s no simple answer to this question; this is all down to personal preferences. But if you're struggling to think of who could be the ideal flatmate, here are a few pointers to get the ball rolling…
- Current flatmates: This is probably the easiest, most simple answer. If you’re already living with them and it’s working, why change a thing? You’ve already lived with one another for a full year at uni. By now you’ll know how they work, how they act, how good they are at cleaning, and probably when they go to sleep. You’ve more than likely made a list of pros and cons on why to live with them, so muster up the courage to ask them about their plans for next year and see where it goes. The worst they can say is no.
- Course mates: These people have been with you from the start of uni. They’ve most likely seen you at your worst, when you crawled into an 8am lecture after a long night out, and they’ve seen you at your best, whilst demonstrating your passion for your shared subject. You’ve had a year together and may have developed a good friendship there. What could be better than getting up and walking to campus together at the crack of dawn? Or, being study buddies in your own house? If you think they’re trustworthy enough to live with - and tidy - then it could be a good idea to ask them about their plans for next year. You never know… they could be thinking about asking you too.
- Societies and Clubs: There are many societies around uni which you’re free to join - some more serious than others! But the chances are, if you’re already part of a club, you might have developed a few budding friendships which you may want to pursue. Maybe someone from the club is your ‘do or die’ buddy and you’d love for that to continue outside of the meet up. If you think they could be a good fit for you, give them a try.
- Current friends: This one is handy for soon to be freshers. If you know one of your friends is going to the same uni as you, it’s usually a safe bet to ask them about their housing situation. They don’t even need to be on the same course, but it could be great to have a familiar face in your new setting. First and second year students can also easily do this too, just make sure your old mates and new friends can integrate easily!
Is there anyone I shouldn’t ask??
Apart from the obvious ones (people you might consider as liabilities or exes etc), the person you may want to ask the most right now is probably the one you shouldn’t – a romantic interest! Unless you know for certain that you and your crush are going to finally become a couple and go the distance, it’s best to avoid that situation.
How do I ask? 🧘🏼♀️
Asking someone about their housing plans for next year can feel like an awkward question. No matter how well you know someone, in the back of your mind you know there’s a possibility they may turn you down - and who likes rejection? But it doesn’t have to be this way. Shake off the awkwardness, take a deep breath and relax. We’ve got a few top tips to make that big question a breeze.
Text vs speech 💬
If you want to avoid the possible awkwardness of a face to face rejection - text them. Hide behind the comfort of your phone and drop them a message. This will give them the chance to read your question and not feel under pressure to answer on the spot. They can take their time to really to think about their options, as this choice will of course affect them as much as it does you. Plus, if they do already have plans and have to turn you down, you don’t need to hide your disappointed face… just remember to text back!
Rephrase the question ❓
This may sound simple but asking “What are your housing plans for next year?” rather than “Do you want to live together next year?” can change the whole feel of the question and the conversation. The person you’re asking might have not even thought about next year yet and phrasing the question this way could open up a friendly conversation about their options, rather than placing them on the spot to decide there and then.
However, try not to be too vague with your questions, make sure they do know you’re interested in living with them next year. Give them time to think about it, even if this means going away and thinking about it for a couple of days. But don’t wait too long. If you feel like they’re stringing you along, or maybe they’re too nice to say no, this is the time to be selfish and do what’s right for you. Waiting too long may result in you struggling to find flatmates further down the line and even miss out on the best accommodation options.
Be chill 😎
For most ‘being chill’ is not something that comes easily. However, with a decision like this it’s best to not overthink it and to try and not make a big deal out of it. The person you’re asking might not want to live with you if you suddenly come off too pushy. They may need time to think about it and evaluate their options. Give them space and do not ask for an answer straight away - you don’t want to be a nag. Follow it up politely a few days later and try not to take anything to heart. If they don’t want to live with you next year, this isn’t a reflection on you as a person, but this is what’s best for them.
What if there’s someone I don’t want to live with? 😬
This is more common than you may think. Maybe you’re all set to book with your friends but one of them wants to bring along their course mate who's just a bit “much”. Perhaps someone has asked you to live with them but you already have plans - or you're moving into a house share. All these are just a few possibilities that may crop up whilst you’re searching for your uni accommodation.
In all of these situations, and others that may occur, you need to remember to do what is right for you. After all, this decision is going to be with you for another year. However, something to bear in mind if you’re moving into a larger accommodation with more rooms next year, is that the chance of you spending alone time with that one person may significantly reduce. Your schedules are more than likely going to be different and it could be worth sticking where you are so that you don’t have to separate from the people you do want to currently live with. In all cases it’s best to put yourself first, but remember to be polite and honest about the situation if there’s something that would make your next academic year uncomfortable.
What if I can’t find anyone to live with? 💻
If you’ve been unlucky and everyone has already made plans, you still have options. There are many websites with forums and chat pages where you can reach out to other students and they can get in touch with you. Check them out and see whose around, or try creating a post yourself and see if anyone gets in touch. You can also visit your university student support who can guide you and offer resources on finding people to reach out to. They may already have someone just like you searching for a flatmate.
Check your social pages such as Facebook (personal and university ones) as people may have placed an ad or post with spare rooms. This is also the same for physical notice boards around university and possibly around the accommodation you currently live in. There are always house shares with spare rooms available. This may not be your dream uni home but you may grow to love it and become friends with the people you moved in with.
If all else fails and you’re really not liking the look of the spare rooms available, or you have reached out to potential flatmates but couldn’t make it work, you can always opt to live by yourself. Some accommodation providers offer studios and one bedroom flats. Although you may think this could be lonely, this provides your own space with no one to disturb you, and your neighbours are probably looking for some company too.
Have a look at our range of student accommodation to find your perfect student home. We’ve got options to suit small and large groups and all are bills are included - so that’s one less thing you need to worry about!