I don’t think anyone honestly likes house hunting in practice. In theory, of course, looking for the perfect place to live, to build a home, to make your own. Visions of scenes from Location, Location, Location and finding the perfect house first go fill your head as you log onto Daft.ie or the numerous other websites advertising places to live in your area. Unfortunately, thats about as far as those scenes go; visions in your head. Unfortunately in modern Ireland, this is not the reality for house hunting.
I’ve noticed some changes in my house hunting since I was a student moving to Cork for the first time 6 years ago; I’ve gained two housemates in the form of the lovely Himself and the tinier himself E. I also don’t tend to house hunt with my dad anymore. And, joy upon joys, I am paying my portion of the rent myself (for the most part. Sob!). My standards too have changed a bit – I understand that it is part of growing up but the impetus to live in a grownup house does grow ever larger with every house I click on online. These are the main differences in my house hunting needs…
As a student, I was just me, well, me and my stuff. For the first two years of my undergrad I lived in one of the smallest box rooms ever created (in a lovely house which made it okay) – I have honestly no clue how all my stuff fitted in there, it was a nightmare to keep tidy and a definite no-no for being able to do much in. In third year I moved downstairs and was overwhelmed by the amount of space I now had in my bedroom – to fill with more mess, and study notes, and a double bed for the first time in my life.
Now, six years on after moving into that box room, one tiny room is not enough for my stuff. If I thought my stuff was mad for not fitting into spaces, two extra people, one of them being a toddler who owns more than both his parents combined it seems, have made the issue a bigger problem. We currently live in a spacious two bedroom apartment and it’s still not enough storage-wise – I now understand why my dad was forever building extensions onto our house – so much stuff! No more tiny squished houses for us, we require storage and more space than needed to swing a cat. Unfortunately not many of these are within a reasonable budget where we can still afford food, but we’ve made it work so far.
Having lived in both a house-share in a big terraced house, and in two apartments of our own, my thoughts on what should be in these households has changed somewhat. Gone is my requirement for a tv(hello Netflix and streaming from my laptop); in comes my requirement for a dishwasher (if only to make the kitchen look less cluttered when theres like two dirty dishes on the side) and storage for all of the stuff – with potential for a garden to soak up the five rays of sun that Ireland sees in a year when I’m not at work. Hauling a buggy around for the moment also means that its got to either be on the ground floor or have a lift – we made the mistake when I was very newly pregnant of moving into a second floor apartment with no lift – not only did it make hauling my fat pregnant ass up a lot of stairs a necessity, but trying to get a buggy up and down for the five months we lived there with a baby was hellish. Definitely think ahead with this one – it definitely wouldn’t have bothered student me – I was well used to walking up a HUGE hill home, the stairs in the house wasn’t an issue.
Back in my student days, it made sense to live in the typical “Student” area – I lived just outside it, but in my house hunting that was the area I was focussed on. Currently despite living in a rather student centric city, our house hunting tends to try to avoid the student areas as much as possible – not only do landlords not want our custom as we learned last year, but the potential for noise and disruption as well as the increase of low-quality accommodation in the main areas stops us from clicking “Contact Landlord” until we get truly desperate about our moving date. If you can, try not to have a moving date between August and September, take it from me, it’s absolute chaos.
As a student I got VERY lucky with my accommodation. It was a nice house, in a nice neighbourhood, kept well with a hands-off landlord who made sure the place was maintained. Perfect storm of situations. It is only since moving out and getting out own place that I’ve realised just how unrealistic replicating that situation is going to be. The houses we viewed last year mostly seemed to be furnished by someone with failing eyesight, or someone from the late 1950s, but not in a hipster vintage way, rather “these-are-so-old-they-may-crumble” way. One landlord advised us the house needed a lick of paint. He left out the bit about requiring Hazmat suits to use the downstairs bathroom, so covered in black mold and damp that we thought that if we HAD to take it, the room would be sealed off and never entered for fear of catching god-knows-what. As a student, closing it off may have been semi acceptable. As a parent of a toddler who gets into everything, these things can’t be skimmed. I’d rather my furniture to not snap under me and if possible to somewhat match the rest of the decor in a semi-tasteful way at least. Beds can no longer be held up by “temporary” supports. And there will be no traffic cone Christmas tree in the corner. I’m sure the landlord will be thrilled.
At 18, I moved to Cork knowing two people, and planning to live with neither of them for the sake of our friendships – the right choice. I moved in with two girls and a guy, two of whom promptly moved out (do I take it personally?) and left one who is one of my closest friends in the world after spending 4 years living together. The two who moved in after became like somewhat of a family unit – again, I realise this is the exception, not the norm with a lot of student houses – not that we didn’t have our disagreements, we did, but it was all taken with a pinch of salt and we got along just fine. Now the housemate situation is rather different. House sharing as a couple with a kid isn’t convenient – I get grumpy enough about my kid waking me at night, for a stranger to have to wake up five times a night and hear Peppa Pig would be unfair. As well as that, having the level of trust to allow basically complete strangers live with your child requires a certain level of balls which I don’t have – I prefer to know at all times who I am leaving my child with or who they are around. There are ads asking to share bedrooms, some even to share a bed – not a possibility I’m likely to entertain nowadays – my bed tends to have two and a half people in it most of the time so no real room for anyone else to half the rent for!
There are another couple of big differences (mostly the amount of stuff we own. So much -somewhat pointless – stuff!) but these are the main ones I’ve found about how my house hunting has changed from student life to grownup life. Have you experienced any of these, or any other major changes in your house hunting style and what you are looking for? Let me know in the comments!