I remember student halls of residence fondly for torrential water fights, utilitarian fittings and superhuman livers. Nowadays however halls are positively bleak. They are also expensive. A friend’s student flat was made of bare cinder blocks and I’ve seen plans for another which is basically a random pile of Portacabins.
Student flats are so small I wonder if it’s all some kind of elaborate joke. There’s one narrow single bed - as you know, students are famously celibate for religious reasons - a tiny en-suite shower room, a desk, and well, that’s it. What about storing books, linen, clothes, and other general stuff?
Some private landlords are heroes, but the worst examples treat students with outright disdain. Most scholars are young and excited to be living independently for the first time. They are optimistic and accept the shabby state of the property, although a broken heater in September seems more important when December comes.
Some houses are so bad you’d think the Young Ones was a documentary. Owners rent out hovels, knowing they won’t make get as much money, but won’t have to do any repairs. They don’t reckon on parents. Do not mess with articulate, protective, litigious parents. They are fierce.
Rigsby-ite owners assume they can cheat and fleece students, ignoring the Deposit Protection Scheme or docking money for minor misdemeanours. One landlord even tried to charge a back-dated retainer on a house we’d moved into in the autumn. Nice try.
Neighbours argue that students destroy their community, having moved for the old style houses or peace and quiet, not parties, gigs and poster sales. Students, meanwhile counter that they need to live somewhere.
It’s not their fault, but students are a beacon for crime. Criminals think they own computers, drugs, loads of lovely cash and consumer items, and landlords can put burglar alarms low down on the list of importance.
Studentland is quiet in May (exams) but noisy in June (parties!) Outside of term time, it’s a wasteland. One friend watched the value of his home tumble, and then the accompanying theft and mugging rates made the streets a no-go. He was beaten up on his own doorstep, and moved away.
Buses are so plentiful that diesel smog chokes your lungs and obstructs the view. Then come July they all migrate in herds like Wildebeest back to the depot, where they stay grazing until September. Mind you, for those no longer in the first flush of youth, it’s a compliment to be asked at the bus-stop what course you are on.
Student zones are coalmine canaries, indicating where the next up and coming area will be, usually full of large cheap family homes, unrenovated, with intact original features (and a smell of stale weed and pizzas).
One neighbourhood in Edinburgh campaigned against the transient nature of its student population, which they claimed discouraged any sense of community. The students offered to organise a street party for the grumpy neighbours, who were long past the stage of swigging BOGOF Frascati from the bottle with a fag end bobbing about, but it’s the thought that counts.