Once I’d made the decision to leave London and swap one river for two and move to Norwich, I had to think about where I actually wanted to live. I hadn’t lived in student accommodation for ten years, so when I was considering my options I was pretty sure I would feel too old to be surrounded by freshers. Thinking back to 19-year-old me starting uni, I can think of nothing worse.
But enough about me being a grumpy old lady. Accommodation is a pretty important consideration for PhD students, as the studying you’re about to undertake can be all-consuming and isolating. There are lots of factors to consider, and many of these depend on how you like to work. You may treat your PhD like a full-time job: working 9-5 in the library and coming home to relax. You may prefer to work from home: and will therefore need a quiet place to study in peace.
I had been feeling ready to live on my own for a few years and, moving to a city where rent is about half the price of London, it was finally affordable. However, on consideration, remembering that I only knew a handful of people in Norwich, I decided to look for shared accommodation. As I would be mostly working and studying from home, I knew I needed somewhere quiet. Sharing with a huge number of people was out of the question, as was a party house. I had spent most of my MA sharing with one lovely flatmate and had found it to be a nice balance of company and time to myself and my laptop, and so decided to look for a similar setup.
This is where I got lucky. I met a flatmate who had just finished her PhD! And who was also going to be working full-time while completing further studies! The absolute dream. Having someone there to chat to, but who also understands that you have to excuse yourself after dinner to go read about qualitative research methods, has been so beneficial to me and my studies.
Knowing what kind of student you are, and considering how and when you work, is important when choosing where to live. Having a healthy work/life balance is vital, and your home is a crucial component of this.