Just a warning before you dive headfirst into this post only to find it lacking in the entertainment department: this will be a Useful Post more than a Fun Post. If you are looking into studying here though, then hopefully it will come in handy.
When first filling out my plethora of application forms to come to Edinburgh, one topic I could not seem to find ample information on was the subject of housing. I knew I wanted a self-catered flat, but no where did it seem to detail the pros and cons of each or what life in one of these flats was actually like. Thus, I am going to focus this post on housing, so that perhaps some perplexed applicants out there might have a bit of a clearer idea what you are doing. To start, this is my bedroom:
It is pretty small, but it is large enough to live in. I inhabit East Newington Place, which is a ten to fifteen minute walk from George Square and the nearby Bristo Square (which houses Teviot, our seven-pub student center), a fifteen to twenty minute walk from Bedlam Theatre, and twenty to 25 minutes to the Royal Mile. I have never been down to the Kings Buildings, but I think it takes about half an hour. It all depends on how fast you stroll. It is just off of South Clerk Street, which is a southern part of the main road that runs through Edinburgh. The flats are up a short alleyway road, neighboring a graveyard and a hearse-garage/coffin warehouse. I know, a bit weird. But not to worry, none of these are particularly imposing. Locationally, it is pretty good.
My flat is on the top floor of the building, which means we have to run up and down six flights of stairs every day (there is no elevator), but it’s not a big deal. My room looks out onto an amazing view of the city. However, my flat mates across the hall, whose rooms face the other direction, just have a view of apartments next door and the cemetery.
I knew that I wanted to be able to cook for myself, so I steered clear of Pollock Halls, which involve lots of first year students and endless cafeteria food. If you are leaving home for the first time and don’t want to cook, Pollock might be the right choice for you. For me, though, this was my third year living on my own, and I wanted to be around older students and have control over my meals. As for which self-catered flats I recommend, I have only been in my own (all my other friends live in non-uni housing), so I don’t have the authority to say how this compares to the others.
I can, however, speak to the differences between my flat and non-uni owned flats. There are definitely pros and cons to both:
Self-catered uni housing benefits:
-If something breaks, just call the office downstairs and someone will be up right away to fix it.
-There is cleaning staff that takes out the trash and cleans common spaces.
-You only have to pay one bill, as opposed to in a regular apartment where there would be electric bills, water bills, internet, rent, etc. Here, all of those things are set up for you and ready to go when you arrive.
-You don’t have to track down flat mates or find a living space on your own– just sign up and they place you some where.
-There are lots of other students living near you, if you want to form a community within your living space.
-Comes with all your furniture, as well as some pots, pans and cleaning supplies.
Cons: We have had a lot of problems with appliances, heaters, etc., everything feels very “dorm-y,” there is a shower but no bath, the flat is pretty darn unattractive, and it is too small to entertain more than a couple guests or for multiple people to be cooking at a time. Also, our basil plant keeps dying, but I don’t think I can blame the flat for that one.
Benefits of living in a real flat:
-They are so much nicer and so much bigger. I have friends who live out on Warrender Park Road and Sciennes Road, for example, and they have massive common spaces, huge, high ceilinged bedrooms, big beautiful windows, and are just generally more enjoyable to be in.
-You get to choose your own housemates.
-You have control over where you want to live, what room you want, etc.
Cons: Possibly more expensive, though I’m not sure, doesn’t come with internet, some furniture, etc– you have to set that stuff up on your own.
Anyway, that is just a brief comparison, but I guess the main difference is that living in a uni flat is easier and perhaps less stressful because you have less responsibility, but at the price of losing quite a bit of luxury. If I were staying here for a second year, I would absolutely round up a group of friends and move into a real flat. That said, though, the housing people did a great job of allocating flat mates, and getting to know the awesome girls I live with has been great.
If anyone reading this has any questions about anything whatsoever, feel free to post your queries in the comment section, and I will answer to the best of my ability in my next blog post.