Housing Panic: a guide on how to survive


The first term panic. Or is it the first month panic – or even the first week? It seems the housing rush gets earlier and earlier each year for Durham students, and it can seem totally overwhelming. Having just about established who you can tolerate after they’ve had one too many Johnny Woodgates, you’re suddenly pressurised to decide who it is you want to come home to at the end of the day.

the housing rush gets earlier and earlier each year for Durham students

We’ve all heard the horror stories, too; the housemate who can’t make their bed, the one who spends thirty-five minutes serenading themselves in the shower, the one who clips their toenails in the living room. These personality deformities only emerge once you are with them and it can drive you to the point of pure head-banging, wall-punching frustration. But there are solutions! Whilst some of these problems seem unavoidable, here is a helpful guide to ensuring your second – or third – year house sucks just that little bit less. So, if you value your mental wellbeing, do give these a glance.

it can drive you to the point of pure head-banging, wall-punching frustration

1. YOU DON’T NEED TO SIGN IN THE FIRST WEEK. Sure – you need to get on houses quick to ensure you don’t end up paying more than you should do, but the reality is, there are enough houses to go around. You’re not going to end up paying for a £200-a-week flat in the middle of Sunderland. So, don’t panic. Start in November, have a good scout through a few locations, and pick the house which matches both your location needs and your budget. Don’t panic.

2. Unless you’re living on your own with an unlimited budget, you’re going to have to compromise. Set a target range you would like to pay a week, a range of people you would like to live with. This way, finding a house will be less stressful, as you won’t have so many ultimatums to deal with.

3. Have one or two boundaries. Having said the above, I would recommend having one principle that everyone in the house is allowed to ‘put their foot down’ about. Having a dryer in the house, having a double bed, living on the bottom floor. Everyone needs certain restrictions. This will make the whittling-down process easier.

4. Have a fair way of deciding rooms. The last thing you want to do is start arguments before you’ve even begun. Pulling names out of a hat, deciding based on the Champions’ League results… these are all good methods. Another point here – try and purchase a house where there is little disparity between the rooms: these are key argument starters.

5. Be aware who your housemates are! As the year progresses, be aware who you have signed with. Make extra effort with them. Build meaningful relationships. This way, a lot of the motives for their behaviours will become apparent to you and you won’t be surprised by the way they are in the house. …and please, lads and lasses, please don’t sleep with your housemates.

Photo credit: Maddie Flisher, Photography Editor

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