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Choosing the right housemates for second year of university

Nobody to live with in your second year? Can’t decide which friends would make the best housemates? 

Whatever your situation, choosing who to live with in second year can be a big ball of emotions, before you even start looking at properties (plus everything else you’re juggling). You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but you also don’t want to rush your decision and end up somewhere that makes you miserable or is inconvenient.

Here's some food for thought, depending on where you are in your search for people to live with:

I have someone in mind – how should I ask them?

Asking someone if they want to live with you is a vulnerable position to put yourself in, especially if you’re not sure what their plans are or if they feel the same way. Even if you've become close with friends, it can be an awkward conversation to bring up.

There’s no specific advice we can give, but these quick tips might help:
  • Don’t make a big thing of it: drop a few hints or ask them about their plans. If they haven't arranged anything yet, perhaps follow up in the next few days – you don’t want to put them on the spot and pressure them.
     
  • Ask them via WhatsApp rather than in person: this can be easier than face-to-face, plus it gives them time to consider your offer – after all, it’s a big decision for them too.
     
  • Try not to take things to heart: if someone turns you down, don’t take it as a reflection on you, personally. They may already have plans; plus everyone has their own preferences when it comes to living situations.
     
  • Don’t wait around for ages: once you’ve asked, don’t be strung along waiting for an answer. Tell them when you need to know by, so you can make other plans if necessary.
     
Unfortunately, sorting out housing is one of those occasions where you need to be a little selfish and put yourself first.

There’s someone I don’t want to live with – should I speak up?

If there’s a group of you, it's common to feel closer to some more than others. Another common scenario is where someone wants to bring in their ‘really fun’ friend, or a boyfriend/girlfriend you hardly know. 

Try to keep an open mind. If you get on just fine with that one person – and they’re tidy, respectful and reliable – it might be worth it if the situation ticks all the boxes (and you get to live with your best friends too). If you’re living in a large house-share, what are the chances you'll actually spend much time alone with them?

The number one priority is that you’re comfortable. You’ll be paying rent like everyone else and it’s going to be your home too. Stand strong and don’t let others lead you into a living situation where you feel unsafe or unhappy. If they keep putting pressure on you, it might be a sign that you’re simply not compatible as housemates, or that this sort of thing could be a frequent occurence if you live together.

Remember: at the end of the day, it's only for a year. With lectures, studying, part-time jobs, going out, placements, weekends at home and holidays, time will fly.


First year students reveal their uni survival tips
 

I don't know who to live with - how should I choose?

If you’re still looking for housemates, or haven’t thought about it yet, here are a few ideas for where to find potential options:

Current flatmates

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! 

Start with who's currently in your halls. Hopefully you'll have a good idea of what they’re like to live with, and any bad habits are like water off a duck’s back by now.

If you haven’t quite clicked – or a year with them has been enough – look further afield instead.

Best friends, clubs and societies 

Remember that you’re looking for someone to live with, not just hang out with. Being ‘a good laugh’ or liking the same bands won’t make up for leaving hair in the sink or not paying their share of bills. Will they be a responsible housemate (or co-tenant, to be formal)?

Clubs and societies can be a good source of housemate potential, but they shouldn't be the only reason to live with someone. Use these as a starting point to get to know that person better; grab a drink after your next practice or turn the conversation away from that interest to get a feel for them. 

Who can put up with your moody moments, obsessive nature or shocking sense of humour? Who are you so comfortable with that don't you have to 'try' if you're both tired? Often these make for the happiest house-shares.

And it goes without saying: don’t make any major decisions on a night out.

Coursemates

You may notice that some subjects attract certain characters or personalities, which may (or may not) make for your perfect housemate.

If you’re studying a notoriously intense subject like law or medicine, living with those who understand how stressful things can get might be a blessing (or at least guarantee you'll have peace and quiet when you need to study).

Whether it’s keeping the noise down during deadlines and exams, having someone to chat through essay ideas, trudge to 9am lectures with or simply motivate you to study when Netflix is calling, your perfect housemates might be beside you in your lecture. 

I have nobody to live with in second year – what should I do?

Whether you’re on your own or you’re on the hunt for an extra person or two, don’t suffer in silence. It might feel like you’re the only one who hasn’t got their housing for next year sorted, but you won’t be.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the student housing market really can vary from one city to another; so depending on where you are, you might have slightly more time to make arrangements. Explore our city guides to learn more about the local area where you study, including living costs, student areas, things to do at night and much more.


Talk to your university

As well as advising about on and off-campus accommodation, your university's housing office (or student services department or equivalent) can keep you posted about upcoming events to connect you with those in a similar position; these could be housing fairs or fun ‘speed dating’ evenings to match potential housemates together.

They can also recommend local letting agents and landlords that have been verified by other students and meet certain standards.

Broaden your search

Try local listings for your area such as SpareRoom and Gumtree. While these may not display house-shares for students exclusively, they often have an option to filter results (not that you couldn't live with a non-student if you wanted to).

Just because your university isn’t affiliated with them, doesn’t mean they’ll leave you high and dry if you run into problems or have questions. If an advert sounds too good to be true or you feel you’re being treated unfairly, ask your uni  to take a look. Having assisted students year in, year out on all matters to do with housing, they’ll be well versed in guidance and ensuring your rights are protected.

Keep eyes and ears open

While you can check your university’s social media channels for updates or groups for those looking for housemates, take your headphones out and lift your eyes from your phone too. The answer to your prayers may lie in the student newspaper, on a noticeboard in the student union or in a conversation at the next table over in the student bar.

I’m a first year without a place in halls – how do I find housemates?

While nearly all universities aim to house first-year students on campus, if you secure your place at the last minute (ie through Clearing), there may not be any places left in halls. This means you may have to find a place in a house-share right off the bat.

Don't feel like you're alone if this ends up being you. The number of students going through Clearing has grown each year; so the chances are there will indeed be others in the same position.

Getting to know potential housemates online or making an impromptu trip to view properties a few weeks before term begins may not be ideal, but it might be your only choice. In reality it’s no different to how things would work if you had a place in halls, as you would still be living with strangers; the only difference here is that you need to find a property together (which your university can help with).


Watch now: Students reveal how they met their best friend


Because everything goes through your university’s housing office, they’ll be well aware of who is in need of a place to live, and can therefore match people up and support them in their search through some of the ways listed above. 

I found a privately rented room via the StudentPad link my university gave me. I didn't want to be responsible for a whole house with new people I've never met in a city I've never lived in, so I opted to stay in a house where my landlady lived herself with her husband. There were another two students in the house, but as my bills were included in the rent and with my landlady living in the same house, if anything went wrong I could easily get it fixed.  First Year Biological Sciences Student | Anglia Ruskin University

It might not be the conventional first-year student experience; but as we've said before, it's only for a year and it could have its benefits.

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