As if moving away from home and adjusting to university life was hard enough, a new ordeal pops up between the months of December to February of your first year; the search for your accommodation for next year.
You are somehow miraculously expected, within the first semester of absolute daze and confusion, that you’d be able to find not only friends, but friends that you trust enough to room with.
I did find “friends”. I found three girls from my home country and I was looking forward to the house-sharing experience, especially after my disappointing uni-halls one. Not going to drag this too long, the group fell apart. It was February and I was unexpectedly left solo.
Every other friend I was asking had already paid down the deposit for their homes. I had nowhere to go to and my time was running out.
My studio search in the next months was no good. The options were very limited and what I could afford fell into the ‘Cupboard-under-the-stairs’ category. I found myself obsessing and crying over how hopeless my accommodation situation seemed, everywhere I looked all I got was disappointment and rejection. I had no clue where I was to live next year and this whole insecurity went on until June.
So, what to do?
Here’s my advice tips on what to do if you’ve found yourself with no housemates and accommodation for your second year.
- Go to the university’s Housing Office at Bramber House.
They are the professionals after all. Most of the tips in this post, were given to me via them.
Do pay a visit to them as soon as possible and tell them your problem. You will remember my words.
- Join the University of Sussex House Hunt Facebook Group
This is overseen by the Housing Office. Students post adverts about a spare bedroom or that they are looking for house-mates to group together and house-hunt. The group is quite big so you are bound to find something, I still remember ads being posted on it daily.
- Ask the Housing Office for their Lodging List
You know what lodging is? It is a form of ‘temporary’ accommodation where people rent out rooms in their house, sometimes for months or sometimes for three years. You may find some pretty sweet deals such as a cozy attic room or even a stand-alone basement studio. If you are not even that fussy about sharing your bathroom and/or kitchen with a grandma or a young couple, the lodging list has five pages worth of options for you to chose from, all at very decent pricing.
Lodging has a lot of advantages. The rooms come furnished (often over-furnished to your own benefit). Bills and internet are often included in the rent. Some offer breakfast/dinner as well, isn’t that just plain awesome?! Since this is a landowner-managed accommodation, you may even be able to have pets. Lastly, you get to stay with locals and even make some nice new friends.
- Try out your luck by applying to be a Residential Advisor
Residential Advisors for the university-managed halls get to stay on campus for even the entirety of their degree course and also have something sweet and cool to put in their CV.
Here’s the catch, it is very hard to be chosen. I did the whole application process and let me tell you, it is very competitive. A lot of people apply and you have roughly 1 in 35 chances of being selected, the whole Jubilee Lecture Hall was stuffed with candidates!
Worry not, this is where I come to give you my ingenious advice. Here’s the deal: the whole of Jubilee is filled with students who want to be RAs, meaning those students very possibly are also solo in the house hunting. Well, grab the chance by the hair. Chat with the people sitting next to you, the people placed in your interview group, or even people you recognise from your course. Keep contact with them and after the results come out, chat up and find out who didn’t make it, then ask them if they’d want to house hunt with you.
- Check your ‘nationality/country’ Society
This is how I found my current housemates. I checked the Facebook Group of the Hellenic Society/Brighton Greeks and found a post for a spare bedroom being advertised
You should try this out, especially if you are an International Student. Not just the Sussex society but the Brighton Uni one as well. Sometimes things are just easier when you are dealing in your mother tongue and with people from ‘home’.
- Last but not least, studio hunting and Eastbourne
Oh boy, this is going to be a big one. I’ll try to be very synoptic. In one sentence; Affordable Studios in Brighton Suck!
They are overpriced corridors walled into a ‘studio’ which in fact are actually bedsits where you have to share a tiny bathroom with five strangers – not student-strangers but proper strangers-strangers. The location of most is bad, with very poor transport links to the university – either it’s near Regency Square or near Hove or in Kemptown. super secret spacing
Also, when studio hunting, here’s the advice I wish I was given! When searching for studios on rightmove or zoopla, studios have a short advert expiry date. Meaning, any studios you look in March, are available now or the latest for May. Before you start getting frustrating after checking day after day the site for any studio available in the summer/September, just stop. Studios available for those months will be advertised on rightmove/zoopla roughly a month before their move-in day, so you either have to look for a July studio in June or come during August and view some then. That’s it, that’s how it works.
Now, let me bestow more knowledge to you my young grasshopper. Repeat the mantra said above, ‘Affordable studios in Brighton suck!’. If you are not very particular about staying in Brighton, you should really give the nearby city of Eastbourne a chance. Eastbourne has a direct train to Falmer Station, that finishes at Brighton Station, every hour. Southern Railway has monthly/quarterly/annual student travel tickets, costing only a bit more than what the Brighton student bus card does.
For the same amount of money that you find a bedsit in Brighton, you find a studio in Eastbourne with the kitchen and the bedroom in separate rooms and with modern bathrooms. No more of that weird typically British bathtub with two faucets and no shower head. Seriously though, what’s the deal with the archaic plumbing!
You’re wondering what Eastbourne is like? In short, Eastbourne is kind of like Brighton, in terms of picturesque southern sea-side town, but simply take out all the hipsters and replace them with retired couples. Done.
Cypriot Anastasia Tsolaki is a second year Law LLB studying on campus at the University of Sussex.