Living arrangements

These past couple of weeks, I’ve been house-hunting. Seat yourself comfortably, for this is a tale of blood, sweat, frustration and unspeakable acts beyond the ken of mere mortals. Well, it’s a tale of frustration; one out of four ain’t bad, surely?

It’s strange that the house-hunt seems to be getting earlier. Time was when students in Birmingham didn’t start looking for houses until after Easter, when they really know who they get on with and whose personal habits are likely to annoy them least. Maybe things have changed because of the pressure of exams, or an increased pressure on housing in the private sector a couple of years ago. Either way, the house panic (and panic it is) begins before the Christmas holidays hit nowadays. By January, virtually everyone is out looking for houses and there is a sense that all the best ones will go quickly, despite the plain facts that, firstly, new houses are being advertised all the time so the best ones aren’t necessarily even up before the summer and, secondly, there are more rented rooms than students to fill them at the moment.

So, in January, the manoeuvring started. The Persian and the Gentleman joined up with a few of our regular visitors to get a five room house. They invited the Doctor, but he declined (partially on the basis that he’d had an offer from a group of medical students and partly because he couldn’t put up with the Persian’s domestic habits for another year – and I don’t blame him!). So I found myself on the receiving end of an invite to live with Rose and her friend Legolas (whom she met at the fencing and archery clubs). We discussed things a bit and decided that it would be a good idea to get a fourth person in (bigger house, possibly lower rent…) so we invited Lord Anubis, who eventually declined on the grounds that he couldn’t be arsed to cook for himself, so he was reapplying to halls. So we turned to the sci-fi society and invited Ricohart to join us.

Things started to fall apart a little here. I work at a cinema for twenty-two hours per week, plus travel time. I have little in the way of time to do things like house-hunting, especially as I only get my rota three days in advance of my working week. Yet Rose was getting ratty with me for not being very helpful. Ricohart said he wasn’t fussy about where we ended up, so he wasn’t particularly proactive himself. Rose bullied me into going to the housing fair in the Guild in early February, despite my workload that week, and we picked up various bits of info. Rose left them in Legolas’ care and he did bugger all with it.

A couple of weeks later, I said to Rose that we ought to actually get something done. She said that she was thinking of going with Legolas to have a look at Harborne that Wedneday afternoon.

“Have you sorted out any appointments to view?” I asked.

She replied that they were just going to randomly knock on doors.

I nearly hit the roof! Here she was, giving me grief because I happen to have less time to play with than everyone else and now she tells me that she can’t even do a simple thing like actually book viewings. I explained how bloody stupid they were being (in the most tactful way possible) and the response I got was a snapped, “Well, you do it, then!”

So I did. I found the University’s Housing Services office and I looked at the list of four bed houses and found places to look at in Harborne. Then I made the phone calls and had an itinerary for Wednesday afternoon, despite only having been able to do anything after 11 on Tuesday. Suddenly, the guy who had no time to do anything major found himself being unofficial spokesman for the group by virtue of the fact that no-one else had the faintest idea where the brewery was, let alone how to ask someone if they could hold a piss-up there…

What we saw that week became irrelevant within a few days when I spoke to Ricohart online to tell him that I wouldn’t be at the Dungeons and Dragons session for a second week on the trot. He decided at that point (and he didn’t send an email, so I wonder when he was thinking of breaking this news) to tell me that one of the guys in the Sci-fi Soc, Igor, was moving out of a shared house and had offered him his room. And Ricohart had already accepted. So a week’s work went down the pan.

After this, Rose didn’t turn up to a couple of Sci-fi soc meetings, to save herself disembowelling Ricohart…

Fortunately, I had several weeks of holiday to take before the end of the financial year, so I was more able than usual to sort viewings again. This time with three-bed houses.

I called one of the numbers on my list and found that all this particular landlord’s houses had already gone. However, he directed me to another landlord, whose three-bed house wasn’t advertised. It turned out to be the best house we’d seen that fortnight. It was a proper semi, as opposed to the usual Victorian terraces that fill the area. It has a living room big enough to fit a small dining table in (where most others are a food-on-your-lap-on-the-settee job). And it is fifteen minutes from the campus, ten from Sainsbury’s and five from the nearest pub. And it’s inexpensive. Needless to say, we signed a contract on Sunday morning…

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~ by Scary Rob on 15 March, 2005.

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