Help Wanted: Accommodation

When I was little, I was sure that, as an adult, I would have a house of my own, know the answer to everything and be in control of my own life. And my parents wouldn’t force me to eat broccoli, brush my teeth or get dressed in the mornings. And it would be great.

House hunting in Leicester has shoved the reality of such ideals right in my face. The first three ideals, anyway. I have long accepted that broccoli, tooth brushing and getting dressed in the morning are all just a part of life. Moving out had always seemed like something that would happen in another life altogether. I got an offer from De Montfort University and assumed I would move into student accommodation sooner or later. My feelings on moving out still hadn’t changed. Then my best friend Hannah, who will be at uni with me next year*, suggested that we look for a place together and become housemates. Wooo, I finally had an official plan! A plan that we didn’t even have to carry out for at least eight months. So, how hard could it be?

Well for a start, I think time must have cheated and fast-forwarded itself. Eight months into the future felt like over thirty two weeks away at the time. Eight months ago feels like less than a year ago now. Thinking that four or five housemates would make things cheaper than two, I spent a good part of the autumn trying to connect with other students in the hope of finding housemates. I also created a few little adverts asking for housemates. I stuck one up in one of the DMU “help” offices. I say “help” because the person at the desk thought that simply making friends would be a much easier task for me than sticking up bits of paper. Me being a bit of a fish out of water in the world of connecting with other people saw Hannah and I giving up with finding other housemates and scouring the internet for two-person houses and flats.

I struggled not to develop a nervous twitch when juggling coursework with not knowing the first thing about house hunting, but to cut a long story short, we booked viewings for three different places. The first was scattered with litter and about four cubed metres in size. The second was virtually disintegrating into a mess of weeds, damp walls and chipped paint. The third was clean, secure, functional and had a huge bookshelf. So we went for the only option – make appointments to see other places that were previously unavailable. We even prayed that if that third place was the one for us, it would somehow be made clear. Our prayer was promptly answered in the form of two viewings on the same day being cancelled when we arrived, and a later viewing being as impressive as the first two. So overall, the best option was pretty clear.

Without even having moved into our newly reserved flat, I can’t help feeling that Hannah and I are already proving to be very “special” students. We must have come across that way to one of the staff at the lettings office who refused to believe, despite firm assurance otherwise, that we do not like drinking and partying and will not be starting anytime soon. Then again, if by that they mean drinking nothing stronger than hot chocolate, and randomly singing church songs in pirate/cowboy/cockney accents, then we will be taking student life by storm…

*she did a one year course last year and is returning in September