Remembering fondly the filth and alcohol of your first year apartment? Dana Halliday recounts the differences between renting in first year and final year.
So, it's late August, and you've just found out you've been accepted into college. OH MY GOD. You're excited, you're nervous, you're possibly delusional and you're utterly clueless – what now?
You've got like, two weeks before term starts. WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO LIVE? The hunt for a house begins. Making your way up to the big city - your phone loading Daft.ie in one hand, the Homes for Rent section of the newspaper in the other – you wonder what your new place will look like, you daydream of all the ways you could decorate your bedroom so you're housemates think you're cool. Oh god – housemates. Do you really have to live with people you don't know? Can't I just live by myself, you wonder. The answer is no. Now get on Facebook and start looking for kindred anxious strangers willing to share with you. The clock is ticking.
"Oh God no"
"NO FIRST YEARS"
*Continuous dial tone*
These are most of the responses you're going to get when you ring up a prospective landlord. Don't panic. This is normal. Keep holding out.
You quickly realise you’re gonna need to get creative. You're now no longer a soon-to-be Arts student. You're now a second year Law student. Suddenly, landlords start saying yes: yes, you can come view my house – as long as you provide a reference for where you lived last year. Sure, you say, and give them your "last landlord's" (mammy's) number – who plays the role in vouching for what a good tenant you were for them. Boom, you've got yourself a house.
Fast forward 2 months. You've got your house, you've decorated your bedroom, you've bonded with your housemates. Collectively, you realise you have no idea what you're doing. You have no idea how to pay the bills, the bins have once again failed to be left out, and the WiFi is still non-existent. Dirty dishes flood the kitchen. The walls are growing mold. There's a seat in the living room made out of empty pizza boxes. Empty cans become both your table and your ashtrays. The toilet is clogged, the doorknobs are no longer a part of the door, the basin is now the mop bucket. All of the things that were once a part of your bedroom are now scattered throughout the house. The goldfish that your housemate bought at the market that lives in a lunchbox has drowned in vodka. The lunchbox is now used for his creamy pasta college lunches. It has not been washed.
On the bright side, your social life is fantastic. You can have friends, strangers, and animals alike over any time you want. The battle for the aux cord becomes a weekly trial by combat and the one pan you share with your housemates is filled to the brim with vomit. But who cares – it's first year, you're having the time of your life, and your neighbours haven't rang the police yet.
Summer rolls around and so too do the exams. You cram a year's worth of academic information into your head over the course of 3 days and meanwhile become more and more stressed by the state of your claustrophobic environment. One of your housemates still hasn't discovered what sleep is and you're no longer afraid to start shouting through the walls when you hear a series of squeals and a headboard bouncing. Your house stinks of wine and smoke and you're terrified you're never going to see your deposit again. Despite moving out in a week, you're stuck in a WiFi contract for the next three months so obviously you're just going to have to change your name, address, and emigrate the country because you're 19 and have no money or assets to offer the company.
You start hunting in summer. You personally view each and every option before making your well informed decision. At this point, you know if the freshly painted walls are secretly covering up layers of damp yet to reveal themselves - just by the smell. This time around, you're doing it good and you're doing it right.
You know who you're living with, you know how to pay the ESB, you know you're gonna need oil unless you want 4 months of the flu, you know to put out the bins or else the air you breathe will mysteriously become smelly. Most importantly, you know to sort WiFi out two weeks in advance because, although they promise they'll send a set-up man out in a week, they don't mean it. You also know to use a provider that you've never used before to avoid your first, second, and third year debts.
Candles from Dealz and canvases from Mr. Price replace your "cool" shredded posters. Washing up-liquid and toilet roll is bought in bulk. A hoover replaces the ancient sweeping brush and you're finally ready to hold out on ordering pizza until the weekends. You even buy Febreze. Your landlord loves you and you're too wise now to ever organise a sesh at your place again. Your place is pristine. You have developed the wits to convince all others around you to hold parties at their place instead. It’s their goldfish that can drown in vodka this time.
Go you. You're in the big league now. You know all you need to know about owning a home. You've finally prepared yourself to take out a mortgage. Once you dig your way out of the pit of unemployment after finishing college, of course. If only you really did do Law.