Another academic year is upon us, signalling the end of a stressful summer securing accommodation. Dublin is notorious for its housing crisis, and student accommodation is in high demand. Trinity News spoke to four students about their experiences securing and staying in accommodation in Dublin City.
Many fresher students begin in Trinity Halls. One student, Sarah, describes staying in Halls as a first year student as tumultuous: “I didn’t know whether or not I’d have a place until very close to before I moved in.” However, Halls quickly became a positive experience for Sarah. “I was sharing a room and my roommate became my best friend,” she explains, “Halls was an amazing experience for me.” As well as this, there are various supports available in Trinity Halls such as the Student Counselling Service and the JCR. As Julie, another former first year student, explains, “the JCR organises events and mixers for students to attend within Halls, which was a great help in first year.”
However, Halls is not without its issues. Stephen, a third year student staying in Trinity Halls through special consideration, explains how the Trinity residency office allowed his application for accommodation to “fall through the cracks.” Due to the residency office’s late accommodation offers, Stephen was almost left with nowhere to stay in the height of the summer when the majority of other student accommodation options were sold out. “After a lot of emailing and confusion,” Stephen says, “I thankfully got an offer for accommodation.”
Student accommodation doesn’t begin and end in Trinity Halls. Ash, a rising second year student, will be staying in digs this year. “I applied for university accommodation but was waitlisted,” he describes, “I heard of the digs through a family friend, and went to visit the house in May.” However, the terms and conditions of staying in digs are a big change from student accommodation: “It’s weekdays only and I’ll be living alongside the owner of the house.” While this may be unappealing to some, the price point certainly isn’t — at least in relation to other accommodation options in Dublin. As Ash explains: “I looked at other private student accommodation options, but they were out of my budget and in inconvenient locations.”
Securing accommodation as a student in Dublin is an experience undercut by constant precarity. When asked about issues securing accommodation, Sarah explains: “Demand for accommodation is so high I had to organise it very far in advance. I wanted to find a less expensive option but I was too afraid that if I waited too long I would have no other choice.” This is a common experience among students securing accommodation. Ash describes his experience with the uncertainty of accommodation:
“I have learned to just take what’s available because being picky can result in finding nothing at all”
While successfully securing accommodation in Dublin is a sigh of relief and a cause for celebration, accommodation comes with the burden of having to finance it. Julie explains how she could afford Trinity Halls in first year: “I worked throughout the summer and the academic year, working full time during holidays such as the Christmas break.” Ash details his financial situation: “[My digs] are being paid for through my parents’ savings, and I’ll be paying for food and utilities through my own savings and wages from my part time job.”
However, student accommodation isn’t all doom and gloom. Going into first year, Sarah was “excited for the new experience” of living away from home for the first time in Trinity Halls. Similarly, Stephen describes how fortunate he was to have made “great friends” with his flatmates in Halls. However, living away from home for the first time may be a different experience than expected — “It’s a lot less ‘Sex and the City’ and a lot more worrying,” says Julie. Stephen elaborates: “My expectations for the amount of partying that went on in student accommodation definitely didn’t match reality … there was really only noise on weekends.” When asked about this, Ash notes more logistical issues when it comes to living away from home for the first time: “I didn’t anticipate having to motivate myself to cook proper food, as there were no leftovers from family meals and I wasn’t responsible for anyone but myself,” he explains.
Finding accommodation as a student in Dublin is a nightmare, but it’s not impossible. For securing accommodation, the key recommendation is to be on the lookout early: “I recommend looking in late February or March because you’re more likely to find a good deal early in the year than you are in August,” Ash advises. Sarah seconds this: “It’s never too early to keep an eye out. It’s difficult because one minute there will be rooms available and the next there are none.” In terms of living away from home for the first time, Stephen recommends building a support network of friends and family to fall back on when the going gets tough, as well as taking advantage of college supports. Julie suggests establishing clear boundaries with your housemates, as well as investing early in a good pasta strainer.