Choosing your accommodation will never be one of the most carefree life choices you make. Just look at University accommodation and how stressful that was to choose and secure. The first year accommodation acts as a stepping stone between home and the ‘real’ world, and nobody is ready to be pushed off it yet.
Second year accommodation will only briefly have troubled the minds of first-years. However, as more and more posters, flyers, and agency letters sneak their way onto campus, the on-campus housing agency seems to be becoming the place to check out sometime in the not-too-distant future. The posters, promoting the thousands of student houses York has to offer, should be taken with a pinch of salt. Eight weeks in should we really be wasting time worrying about next years accommodation?
York is reputable for its large student population, with almost 30 per cent of the population between 16 and 34 years old. It’s not surprising that letting agencies have cottoned on to the sheer amount of investment potential lurking in York’s two universities, irrespective of the fact that we have been living away from home for less than nine weeks.
I think it is absolutely ludicrous that companies are already promoting student houses. They are not renting because they have good quality houses; they are renting out of greed. The amount of paper we have been sent in the past few weeks is quite frankly intimidating, unnecessary, and practically single-handedly destroying the rainforests. These posters and letters are purely an egotistical self-indulgent competition between the housing companies that will inevitably become more aggressive as we make our way into the second term. It’s like a group of toddlers fighting over a shiny new toy – an issue they need to sort out between themselves. And it’s the first years, who have only just settled in to their first accommodation away from home, who suffer. Imagine what would happen if we were sent a letter telling us that we actually needed to start looking for accommodation next year. All hell would break loose.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to students in James, Goodricke, and Halifax when they were sent a letter telling students to start looking for a house ‘BEFORE the Christmas break’. The thought of not having a house next year if you hadn’t sorted out your accommodation by Christmas must have sent some of them into a frenzy. The problem is that students are at their most vulnerable during the first term as information from YUSU and the University is scarce and some housing companies can take advantage of that.
The companies who are advertising themselves around this time of year are bound to set their prices higher – because there is little competition. They start advertising early so that we still remember their name when it gets to February and we actually need to start looking. Students are not pre-warned about the companies like this one who intimidate first years into a state of submission.
This is why I feel the need to constantly remind myself that choosing a house is a big deal, and should not be rushed into like it’s going out of fashion – because it’s definitely not. Above all, we need to decide who we want to spend the next few years living with.
We should focus on living and enjoying the accommodation that we have already paid for first, before we write the deposit cheque for next year’s home. There is absolutely no way that York will run out of its 2,400 student houses before Christmas. We couldn’t even move into the accommodation early if we wanted to because, believe it or not, there are still people living there. So maybe, now is the time to just sit down at the table in the flat most first-years pay over £100 per week to live in, and drink the Morrison’s value tea that you bought because you can’t afford Yorkshire Tea. Forget about the dream house that you spotted online with a huge garden and private parking; we can all cross that bridge when we get to it. I’ll race you.