The pros and cons of living on your own at Durham Uni

It’s always my turn to clean the kitchen

It’s ok to admit it: Looking for a place to live in Durham is terrifying and makes you question your ability to adult. With so much to consider it can be easy to forget some of your options, one of which being the possibility of living on your own.

The prospect of such an experience likely evokes a variety pack of emotions within you, but fear not! I’m here to run you through the pros and cons of living by yourself during your time at Durham University.

1. A place for everything and everything in its place (PRO)

Perhaps the most obvious benefit to living on your own is having full control over how everything is organised. Gone are the days of being relegated just one kitchen cupboard in your college halls, now bask in the glory of multiple cupboards at once, oh and did I mention an entire fridge?

You really get the chance to make the place feel like your Durham home, and that’s a really special feeling that can’t really be described, only experienced.

2. Whose turn is it to clean the kitchen? Oh wait… (CON)

Are you a self-proclaimed professional delegator? Or perhaps a wannabe actor playing the oblivious type, walking with your hands deep in your pockets, whistling a broken tune past the sink overflowing with dishes from who knows how long ago? Then oh boy are you going to loathe living on your own!

Only you can make a mess in your own place, but remember, only you can clean it! So if you’ll struggle to muster up an army of Scrub Daddies and put on the happy face of Henry Hoover, then living alone may not be for you.  

3. Bills not included, but arguments are! (PRO)

We all know that one person who seems to think the shower is their second bedroom or that plug sockets don’t have an off switch, but bringing these issues up can be awkward and even destructive to your friendships when it comes to tackling utility bills.

It can be insanely frustrating when a flatmate is inconsiderate or reluctant regarding adjusting their usage habits and then expects you to split the cost. If only there was a way to just completely skip over all of this hassle and have full control…

4. I hope you’re not scared of landlords (CON)

It can be insanely frustrating when a flatmate is inconsiderate or reluctant regarding adjusting their usage habits and then expects you to split the cost. If only there was a way to just completely skip over all of this hassle and have full control…

4. I hope you’re not scared of landlords (CON)

The harsh truth of renting is that a lot of Durham landlords can be a huge pain to deal with. Learning to deal with pesky landlords can be a mighty challenge, and in a studio you can’t just hope another flatmate is confident enough to stand up against them should there be any issues.

So, if you’d rather eat those frozen pizzas like ice lollies than tell your landlord that the oven is broken, you might want to avoid studio flats.

5. Who ate my ice cream?! Oh yeah… I did… drunk at 3am (PRO)

Ever felt that fear that someone has invaded the cupboard you boldly claimed for yourself during that awkward first venture into the spooky realm of the shared kitchen? Or realise that you’re going through milk faster than it seems possible?

Dealing with people who adopt the attitude of “Oh I’m just taking a little bit, it won’t hurt them!” really does grow frustrating after the 10th time of not being told they were “borrowing” your food. Luckily, in a studio, there’s no one else to blame but yourself for going through copious amounts of milk to fuel your coffee addiction.

Keep in mind though, this does not apply to every one bedroom place in Durham. Many still have shared kitchens, so if protecting your sacred herbs and spices from self-proclaiming master chefs is your goal, be extra vigilant when property searching!

6. It can be lonely (CON)

I won’t attempt any satire or quirky commentary regarding this point, as it is the most serious to consider when deciding if living on your own is the best for you. I am conscious that being surrounded by people does not automatically alleviate any feelings of loneliness, but it is important to stress that at a studio, you won’t have anyone to come home or wake up to.

During the busier days where perhaps you didn’t have an opportunity to leave the house, there are these moments of realisation that you haven’t even said a single word that day. Being on your own and being lonely are very different things, but it is important to be able to have the strength to spend a lot more time on your own and to have the courage to reach out on the tougher days.

If you believe that kind of environment would prove too lonely, then that’s ok. Please try to love and look after yourself.

7. Finally escape all of the drama (PRO)

“It’s all the drama, Mick. I just love it!”.

Many of us can relate to the loveable Pam here. Maybe you feel giddy when a friend lets you in on a spicy Durham secret that you both wring out like a wet towel for all of its juicy details. Maybe you try with all your strength and pretend not to care about the drama, but deep down just cannot believe the scenes that unfolded last night at Jimmies.

But for some, being entangled in everyone’s rumours and gossip is much less appealing than having a space where they can enjoy some actual tea. Living on your own can help you get away from all the noise for a little bit, and that kind of peace is rare nowadays.

8. That’s enough adulting for this year… (CON)

Living on your own may not be a suitable option for those who quake in fear at the very thought of answering a knock on the door or having to speak to pest control (if maybe you don’t live alone after all).

It can feel terrifying, and that’s ok, but these fears do eventually need to be overcome as we make our way into the very confusing adult world. Living by yourself is a fantastic opportunity to do so, but keep in mind that it really is the “throw yourself into the deep end” approach to this.

10. A quiet working environment (PRO)

Many people search high and low for that special place to get work done, but for some it seems near impossible to find a quiet place to tackle all those deadlines you’ve been putting off. For many, the Billy B is perfect, but it can also be a fat walk away with many, many hills.

If you live on your own, however, you always have a quiet space to crack down on work with a very low risk of being distracted – as long as you mute those Durfess notifications and resist the unshaken urge to get up every hour to make a coffee that you refer to as a “reward” instead of admitting to that addiction I mentioned earlier.

10. Potentially more expensive (CON)

It’s no secret, some Durham studios are ridiculously expensive. Landlords can expect over £200 a week from students who have never quite recovered from when Freddo Frog topped the 10p mark.

In all seriousness, within this current market, it can be extremely difficult to find somewhere you can afford to live. Some studios actually end up being cheaper than some shared houses, so it’s incredibly important to at least consider them should you be in a less fortunate position than others.

My heart goes out to fellow students who also have to work part-time jobs to get by. You should be forever proud.

Related stories recommended by this author:

We asked Durham students for their landlord horror stories 

This is what your halloween plans say about you as a Durham student