Thursday, 24 September 2020

Shared house or halls? | My experience living in a shared house

 Hey lovelies, welcome back!

Yesterday, Jodie shared what it was like living in halls and so today I thought I would give my experience of living in a shared house instead of halls and tell you why I made that decision.

Firstly, some background information – I decided to come to uni much later than most of my cohort at the ripe old age of 22. Having moved out and lived independently for a year and a half before making this decision, it wasn’t going to be a simple choice. I was well aware that this would be the first time my peers had lived away from home and given the reputation freshers have, and remembering when my friends went away to uni five years prior, I decided that going into halls and being surrounded by 18 year olds wanting to party every night wasn’t for me. I also wanted somewhere long-term and didn’t want to have to repeat this search a year later, and so I started looking at shared accommodation instead.

After viewing a few rooms, I settled on one in a 10-bed house. Now, before moving in I hadn’t met or even spoken to the other nine tenants, and thankfully they were all in their early 20’s too and in second and third year or doing a masters. Embracing this new living arrangement, I made every effort to get to know my new housemates in the hopes of becoming friends.

University started and I threw myself into student life, making friends on my course, joining a sports club, going out partying and so it didn’t take long for the house to drift apart. Not in an explosive way but in a we’ve each got our own lives and our schedules kind of way and we settled into comfortably living alongside each other.

Eventually tensions started to rise, as they inevitably do in any shared accommodation, and it became a more ‘say hi in passing’ kind of environment. This didn’t faze me as I was busy juggling uni, extra curriculars and a job whilst adapting to my new life at the same time. What I struggled with was the confinement of just having a room - remember I’d come from my own 1-bed flat… This took a huge toll on my mental health and I often watched my friends at home moving forward in their post-uni lives feeling like mine had regressed.

Since I was struggling with pre-existing depression, I felt trapped between two worlds – not in a position to be settling down, getting engaged and buying mortgages like my friends at home but too old to be going out partying every night like most students. Safe to say my first year was a rollercoaster of emotions!

Thankfully, I moved into a 2-bed flat for my second year and my mental health improved almost instantly. I re-gained that feeling of independence and success I’d lost in the first year and, feeling more like myself again, decided to really immerse myself into the mature-student lifestyle. I put more effort into socialising and forming stronger friendships with the girls at Cheerleading which also gave me the opportunity to befriend the lads on American Football. Securing a stable job helped me feel balanced – Weekdays I am the care-free student navigating lectures and socials and at weekends I am the responsible adult working part-time.

However, hindsight is a wonderful thing and looking back I do wish I’d chosen halls instead. At the time a shared house seemed like the perfect option, but the reality was much different. Moving in with complete strangers is always a risky affair, and in this case more so as we quickly discovered we were all incompatible. Combine this with the fact that I’d originally planned to live there long term and then two months in was informed I’d have to move out at the end of the year regardless, I might as well have chosen halls in the first place…

While everything has settled for me now, I do often wonder if my experience would have been different if I’d chosen halls instead. Would I have found it easier adjusting to my new life? Would I have found it easier to make more friends? Did I miss out on the full university experience? Would my mental health have plummeted even further than it did? I guess I’ll never know…


What was your halls experience like? Like me, did you choose a shared house instead? And if given the chance would you change your choice? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, lovelies!

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