Relationships

Tips for your Student Accommodation Search

 

Whether you are weighing up CAO offers and have your hopes set on moving out or you are a few years into your academic journey and need to make a move, you are sure to have heard A LOT about the accommodation crisis, rental price rises and limited options in the past few weeks or months. This is a story that arises each year yet 2016 comes with tougher facts and figures. Daft.ie's recent rental reports have revealed ,year on year, that rent has risen in cities, and student towns around the country...... but don't give up and don't fret! With careful research and planning you'll find your spot- just be ahead of the game 

You hear stories about people changing their course because they can't live there, about substandard accommodations offered, or impossible budget struggles; all of which can seriously dampen your spirit at what should be an optimistic time of change! That's why we want to focus on what IS possible, offer tips to try work around the rental challenge, and offer some proactive info points to contact in your search for a place to rest your weary head after a day of cerebral acrobatics. Keep the chin up and read on.

1) Get in touch with the right people.

First off! Talk to all of your friends and family- You never know what tips or leads they might come up with. 

Gloom always dominates the head-lines and statistics can leave out the good news stories. There is still hope. Asking around the office here, many of us were left saddened when first applying for on campus accommodation, only to find that the waiting list isn't just a conceptual way to say 'no room at the Inn'. It seems obvious, but make sure you have contacted the Accommodations Office of your college if you want to stay on campus. The waiting list may not be that long, and people's circumstances change all the time. If you are not in you can't win. 

The efficacious Accommodation Officer is not only there to look after campus availability. They can also be key in pointing you in the right direction, putting you in touch with local landlords and giving advise on the market in the local area. They won't be able to hold your hand (they don't get commission!!) but approach them nicely, be flexible, and they might just help put you on to a winner. Check out how helpful CIT's accommodation page is for example. Most try to be as helpful as they can and are invaluable when you are stressing about all the other things you need to get sorted out in the next few weeks. 

2) Be active in your search- daily!

The rental market is ever changing and renter's pounce quickly. Know the best online searches for your location. Register for updates on your preferences and check it everyday...twice a day! Be ready to view at the drop of a hat and have your references, finances and game-face in order! Check out our list of search links at the end of this article to see if one might help you in your search..

3) Can you widen your preferences?

You may have always had your own room since you were born. You might not want to share with people you've never met. You may think on-campus 'or nothing!'. But think about it, in tough times you've got to be flexible and opening your search might open up experiences and chances to meet people you'll end up friends for life with. Your best friend from school might be messy and a snorer BUT that new housemate might be the best person ever to share a tub of Ben and Jerry's and watch bad TV with. Point being...you never know. Sharing a room might make you a new best friend....or it might make you appreciate your own space even more down the line. It's all just temporary; a base for you to study, experience college life and move forward. As long as it's safe, clean (enough!), affordable and you can be yourself, you should let it be an option. Do go with your gut, but try be optimistic! 

4) Consider digs, or non Student-options.

Many people are now renting out rooms to help with their own bills meaning a wide variety of options that you may not have considered before. Living in someone else's home might not be what you had in mind but it can be a home away from home. A good break from the mayhem of freshers week and a little bit of peace perhaps? Some places also supply meals or allow you to pay for 5days if you go home at the weekend. These can be self-catering too. Scour your area and talk to people who have done this before. It can feel like a nice stepping stone before going completely out on your own.

5) Compromise on your commute?

Okay, you are heading to Maynooth so you should live in Maynooth right? Again though, Maynooth is all about students come term-time and the competition for a college home is rife. Why not look into somewhere with good, regular bus routes that mean you have a commute that you can make work for you. Leixlip, Celbridge, Lucan and even places along the Dart such as Clonsilla might be doable? Consider the train journey as good reading time to build up references for that looming paper. Or if you are 20mins away you might want to cycle on good days to squeeze exercise into your busy routines and help keep in the mind and body in shape. Living between Dublin city and your college can also up up your opportunities for weekend work... and nights out!

6) Remember it's not for life! 

We know, it's hard to settle or lower your standards but remember, you are not investing in this house, right now you are investing in your future. You may not have your gleaming mansion today but you will have the experience that comes with shared digs, new housemates.  Even small rooms can be decorated to feel like your own little haven for a short time. And if it's not too comfy you might be less likely to take a duvet day and miss that important lecture! 

We wish you all the best with your search and that wherever you find is a great base to pit-stop, make friends and have a great college year.

And don't forget, even if your place to stay works out to be more expensive than you'd hoped, you can keep saving in lots of ways with your Student Leap Card all year around. 

Some Useful Search Links

Nationwide

www.trovit.ie Good for alerts and house-share advertising

www.daft.ie Well known and trusted. Has the advantage of setting up auto-searches

www.gumtree.ie Good for house sharing lisings

 www.collegecribs.ie Great for advanced search nearby your college.

www.myhome.ie or www.rent.ie General searches for rooms to rent

www.boards.ie Has specific threads with advice for 1st years looking for housing

www.getdigs.ie Matching lodgers with homeowners 

USI Homes for Study search engine.

Dublin

www.StudentHousing.ie Dublin only focus.

UCD 

TCD

DIT

DCU

Cork

Limerick

Galway

Waterford

Discover your passion through Volunteering

 

When you think of volunteering, what image springs to mind? Bucket-shaking to fundraise for a charity?  Helping to build a house abroad? Befriending an older person? Volunteering is all these things but also many, many more. Volunteering is a wonderful way of learning new skills, meeting new people and making a difference in your community.

Of course, it’s also a great way of sharing your skills with others - why not volunteer your social media skills to help an up and coming organisation? Play music for older people at a local convalescent home? Organise a fashion show with a local charity shop? Or perhaps there is a cause that’s close to your heart – whether you’re a wildlife aficionado, a music lover or you’re passionate about helping those less fortunate than yourself, anyone can volunteer and there are countless ways in which to do so.

Summer can be an ideal time for developing skills and making new friends. You need to make time for yourself and for discovering where your passions lie. What better way to achieve this than through volunteering?

No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. To see how you could start volunteering this summer and to read some inspiring stories of how others have made a difference, visit www.volunteer.ie

Volunteer Ireland, the national volunteer development agency, which promotes and supports volunteering in Ireland. 

 

 

#MadeGrátheLaw- The Power of the Student Vote

 

Article written by Annie Hoey, USI VP for Equality and Citizenship

When we think of students, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t exactly an image of a political stalwart. Society tends to think of students as being apathetic, preferring to stay at home and play computer games and eating last nights pizza. In reality the current student cohort is more active than ever. Students study for long and hard hours to secure a good degree. Many students also work to pay their way through college. Every year thousands upon thousands of euros are raised for charities the length and breadth of the country. Students throw themselves into college life, joining clubs and societies, not only for the social aspect or to look good on a CV, but to broaden their horizons and to get everything out of their precious few years at college before the harsh reality of the ‘real world’ sets in. However, there is still the sense that students don’t care about political matters and that students are apathetic about getting engaged. 

But what we saw over the past couple of weeks has shattered the notion that students are politically apathetic. Students and young people took the marriage equality referendum by storm, tearing up footpaths on the canvassing trail and leading the way for a new generation of politically engaged students, eager to make a contribution to how this country is run. But how did it all start?

In 2012, at the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Annual Congress, a motion calling for the implementation of marriage equality for LGBT peoples was unanimously passed. And thus the ‘Students for Marriage Equality’ campaign was born which saw the first two years the campaign focused on awareness raising and mobilising students around the issue of marriage equality. USI made a submission on behalf of students to the Constitutional Convention, outlining the student perspective on marriage equality and why it is important to us. At Pink Training, our annual LGBT training weekend (and the biggest event of its kind in Europe), there were workshops on lobbying TDs and political parties about marriage equality, along with workshops on running marriage equality campaigns. Rainbow weddings took college campuses by storm. 

Students were getting ready for the referendum campaign.

In 2014 it became obvious that a referendum in 2015 was on the cards. Students for Marriage Equality had a presence at Prides around the country, March for Marriage and Rainbow Weeks. At #PinkTraining14 there was a massive focus on marriage equality - what students wanted from the campaign and how we were going to mobilise. Here we unleashed our campaign hashtag on the world: #MakeGráTheLaw. So simple! So catchy! So effective! Kudos must of course go to the creator of the slogan, Siona Cahill from Maynooth Students’ Union. 

Students’ Unions, LGBT societies and USI ran massive voter registration drives around the country. Online campaigning, hashtags, Twibbons and Facebook likes aren’t much use if they don’t translate into votes! Between November 2014 and May 2015, nearly 28,000 students were added to the register, with thousands more handing in the forms themselves. Students were taking this campaign very seriously and weren’t willing to let the opportunity to make history sail by. 

In January 2015, USI and students officially launched their Students for Marriage Equality campaign. We had a dedicated website, voteforlove.ie, built and began campaigning and mobilising in earnest. Students in Trinity College Dublin launched the #RingYourGranny campaign, encouraging students to ring and talk to family members about the upcoming referendum. Students in NUIG braved Croagh Patrick in wedding attire to raise awareness of the importance of marriage equality. USI coordinated a world record attempt in Smithfield, where 540 people braved the torrential weather and came together to make the largest human formation of a love heart. Pride flags took pride of place (bah-dum-dum-tisch) on campuses across the country, with SUs proudly declaring that they stand with their LGBT students and want a more inclusive and egalitarian society for all people. 

Students knew what was at stake and were ready to take on the fight.

As the referendum drew closer, students moved out from their campuses and joined the nationwide campaign with zeal. Students took to the streets and canvassed every evening after college. Weekends were spent convincing family, neighbours and complete strangers that marriage equality was important and that we need to live in a society where love is cherished and valued. Tweets and Facebook statuses came aplenty, followed by the now obligatory #MakeGráTheLaw sign-off. 

In the last week of the campaign, we knew that moblisation was key. Where are you going to be on May 22nd? Do you know where your polling station is? How are you getting there? Thus came our other hashtag: #VoterMotor. The idea was simple: travelling to your polling station and have room in your car to bring a few others? Or are you in desperate need of a lift from Tralee to Cavan so as to be able to vote? Then lob it up online and let social media do the rest! Thousands of lifts were offered and requested, with the kindness of people shining through in their willingness to help a fellow citizen get to ballot box. Students were determined to get to the polling station, no matter how they were going to get there!

On May 23rd we were all done. There could be no more flyers handed out, pleading statuses put up, or any more doors knocked on. All we could do was wait. When the news began to filter from the tallies that we were indeed going to have marriage equality, we were overjoyed. And when the news came that not only was this the highest turnout of any referendum in Irish history, it was also the highest turnout of the youth vote, we were ecstatic. The youth and students of Ireland had come together and made a difference. We had mobilised canvassed and campaigned for a better future for ourselves. We took on the notion that students were apathetic and didn’t care and we tore it apart. Students were the agents of change in the marriage equality referendum. 

There has been a political awakening amongst students since the marriage equality referendum. We have the bug for canvassing and campaigning. We have proven to ourselves that we can make a positive difference. We #MadeGráTheLaw.

 

This article and it's USI campaign images were kindly contributed by Annie Hoey, USI VP of Equality and Citizenship for which we are grateful. You can follow Annie on twitter @hoeyannie. 
You can find further information about the Union of Student in Ireland and the work that they do through their website here.