Let The Hunt Begin

(Published on Falmouth Navigator and in my student newspaper Flex, on Page 9)

As the new year commences, it’s time for students to start looking for accommodation away from the halls that have been central to uni life for the past months. Charlie Derry discusses the highs and lows of living off campus and the important features to look for when house hunting this term.

It may only be the start of term two, but this is the time of year that you should be sat trawling the accommodation list with your potential housemates, searching for the perfect house to live in next year. But what exactly should you be looking for when you’re spending weeks on end viewing house after house? And who do you go to if you if you’re having trouble finding somewhere to live?

Tremough Campus Services (TCS) is the main service running at UCF, giving advice to students looking for accommodation in the private sector. They offer many schemes during the academic year to point students in the right direction and run the online accommodation list which provides a regularly updated list of available student accommodation in Falmouth and the surrounding areas.

TCS’s annual house hunting sessions were held throughout January, giving a basic “heads up” to first-year students who are currently looking for accommodation outside of halls. If students missed these sessions, TCS’s office welcomes students at all times to answer any queries and FXU advisors are also on hand to help with more common problems that students are faced with when living in privately rented accommodation.

Richard Wilkins, Private Sector Liaison Officer at UCF’s Accommodation Office, says:  “We are confident that there will be sufficient good quality accommodation in the Private Sector this year since we have had considerably more landlords and agents contact us with a view to developing and renting properties for students – particularly in Falmouth and Penryn.”

So where do you start when looking for a house? Annie Whittaker, Administrator at Miller & Son, who also graduated from UCF in 2009, advises that: “The best chance students have is to get themselves together in a group and individually ask the estate agents in town, as well as looking in the local newspapers and on websites.”

She says: “When I was house hunting as a student, I remember it was pretty tough. My third year accommodation was terrible. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do, and when accommodation is limited, you have to take what you’re given and feel fortunate that at least you’ve found somewhere, regardless of how grotty it is.”

Evidently, the term ‘Better late than never’ does not apply when house hunting. The best advice that can be given is to start looking at accommodation as early as possible, as Level Two Graphic Design student at UCF, Scott Pearson, explains: “We started looking at houses a bit too late, way later than everyone else,” he said. “There were five of us in total, but eventually the group fell apart in a mad rush to find somewhere else to live before we would be left homeless.”

After last-minute trouble with purchasing a house, Scott was forced to find alternative accommodation. “I looked frantically for a flat around Falmouth town, but having no luck I did the only thing I could – go to Maritime Studios,” he adds.

Maritime Studios and The View are the two main blocks of student apartments in Falmouth town. For those who haven’t found a group of friends to move in with or have left it too late to find a house at all, these apartments are the best alternatives.

Chris Winter, Boat Design and Production student at the Marine School, moved out of a student house into The View last year. He says: “I moved into The View because everything was clean and new. Living in a block of student apartments is great because you meet lots of new people with having a lot of neighbours.”

But appearances aren’t everything, and you don’t always get you’re money’s worth. It’s not only the price of monthly rent that will be digging a hole in your wallet either. Additional costs such as bills also need to be taken into consideration, especially when living in privately rented accommodation.

Level Two Textiles student at UCF, Hannah Kayum, says: “I’m now looking for a different house to live in for my third year due to how high our bills are. Hopefully we’ll find a house with the bill price included in the monthly rent to make it easier as I just can’t afford to keep this up.”

With all this to consider, finding a house isn’t as easy as you’d have first thought and with the problem of over capacity in halls this year, it hasn’t been made it any easier. So get your reading glasses on and prepare for many a’ late nights refreshing the accommodation list.

For any last-minute help with accommodation, TCS will be holding Accommodation Fairs throughout the summer where landlords and agents who have properties available are invited. This is an ideal opportunity to view a number of houses throughout the day, so try to make the most of these opportunities and start early, else you may just end up living in a tent.

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