Second year, for most, means leaving the comfortable or constricting bubble of university accommodation on campus and taking the “I’m a big kid now” step out into the “real world”.
But don’t worry – with other students parking stolen trolleys on your porch, shuffling around in ten layers of clothing, and coercing a housemate into washing the, now blue and white, remnants of spaghetti off their pan, it won’t feel like you’re anywhere close to living an adult life.
So which is better? Halls or houses?
Halls mean convenience. You can probably sprint to your lectures even if your alarm “didn’t go off”, and a lot of ghastly things (paying for heating, cleaning the toilet and having spirited debates with a landlord), are taken care of behind the scenes. You will most likely have to pay a painful amount for this privilege, but you will miss it sorely when you move on.
Socially halls are a double-edged sword, if you are lucky and bond with a good number of your flatmates then living together will be great. Sadly, the largely random way that complete strangers are thrown together and made to share one kettle rarely ends without some friction. Not being able to choose who sees your pre-coffee morning face or judges you for the late night ice-cream trips to the freezer is a major drawback of living in halls.
The first housing hurdle is the intensely strenuous process of choosing who to live with and finding a house without a serious mould problem. I reckon more friendships fall apart because of housing problems than at any other time of year.
Houses mean a great deal more freedom; including more freedom to massively mess up. A major challenge once you’ve moved in is keeping back enough money for bills, or having to face the wrath of housemates. You are likely to develop a slight consumerist problem if you have moved into a town for the first time (sale signs and window displays should not be legal). There is no resident tutor to break up rowdy pre-drinks, but watch out for angry neighbours calling the police about anti-social behaviour if your party gets out of hand.
Whether you are in halls or houses, the deciding factor on whether or not it feels like ‘home’, is going to be the people you are living with. Buying cake for them all on a Friday to apologise for that time you put foil in the microwave is probably a good idea.
What do you think about the halls vs. houses debate? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo: Erich Ferdinand / Flickr