Finding a house is stressful, there is no way to sugarcoat that. Having done it twice now, and because I am starting to have to think about my accommodation for after graduation, I can speak from experience when I say this. The Student’s Union offers many avenues of help when it comes to finding housing, so the support is there, especially if this is your first time joining the rat race.
Homerun is a service provided by the SU, which lists properties for you to consider, and these are held back until a set date. They are therefore recommended houses that should, in theory, make your tenancy and hunting process easier, instead of going at it alone to then face problems the SU could have helped mitigate. This service is not open until after Christmas, so as to ensure all the ‘good places’ don’t get snatched up.
There is also the housing and accommodation office in the Hive, where you can get advice about how to apply, dealing with landlords, and more advice that will help you through the process.
As for the general advice they give, they list things to consider in each property, notably, location in proximity to the university and the city, parking if you have a car, and what style is desired. However, some sacrifices will undoubtedly need to be made. For instance, I live within a fair walking and commuting distance to university, with amazing people in a really modern house, but getting to my part-time job in the city is a pain.
Now, housemates. Possibly one of the most stressful parts of the process. If you sign too early, things could go wrong, but signing too late could also be problematic. Strike the balance perfectly then you are golden, but I would always argue that the people you live with are infinitely more important than where you are. Having signed for my second year house very quickly, for it to then go very wrong with my housemates, I am a shining example of this.
Current flatmates may be a safe option, because there is a little safety in knowing that you know living together works, but coursemates may be a good idea given the common interest and how helpful this could be academically.
Another thing that needs to be considered is bills. Do you want a place where the bills are included in the price? Alternatively, are you happy to sort bills yourself? Having done both, I can confidently say that sorting bills is not as much of a nuisance as some might suggest. Yes, you have to make sure your housemates pay you back when the money leaves your account, but if you like the people you are with, then that shouldn’t be too difficult.
There are rumours floating around about all the different places to live in Norwich, which may put you off them. I urge you not to listen to such trends, because it is all about what you make of it, and varies from property to property. There are people that tell you Bowthorpe/Threescore is too far away, and yes, it is far, but the bus takes seven minutes to university. People will also say that the Golden Triangle is a dodgy area, but in reality, if all you see is your house and the 25 bus route, then where is the issue?
Ultimately, it is a difficult process where sacrifices have to be made. It is a game of priorities, where some things have to give in favour of others. You just need to work out where this takes you. I cannot stress enough how relieving it is to finally sign on the dotted line, but that does not mean rushing to get it done unnecessarily quickly. After all, you are preparing for a whole year, so your happiness must be the priority.