As the hunt for next year’s private accommodation begins, this is the question on everyone’s minds: Where do you want to live? Or, rather, where can you afford to live? Since it’s hardly possible to describe St Andrews as a vast metropolis, there aren’t an overwhelming amount of housing options.
You could be lucky and live in Town Centre — a place often seen as posh, since rents tend to be high and houses beautifully furnished — or you could live further out in the “Badlands” across Kinnessburn. The name gives away the stereotype of this area. It’s supposed to be the rough and dodgy “South End” of St Andrews, where the rent is cheap but the walk to town is long. Finally, there are the commuting students, living far beyond the safe walls of town in the “Outlands.”
“Honestly, I was desperate,” postgraduate management student Martin Inches said. After a difficult housing search, Mr Inches found a flat in Guardbridge, a town several miles away from St Andrews. He pays £420 a month, which gives him a spacious room in a three-bedroom flat.
Guardbridge, with its 600 inhabitants, one pub and corner shop, doesn’t offer much. In that respect, Mr Inches said, “It’s just a place to sleep.”
Shopping, university lectures and social activities happen in St Andrews. Mr Inches travels to town at least four times a week, spending around ten pounds total on bus fare.
“That’s the cheaper bus which only comes once an hour,” he explained. Being dependent on buses can be difficult, as they tend to run late, especially when there’s traffic in the morning.
For Mr Inches, the decision to commute was a financial one. However, leaving “the Bubble” does offer one advantage.
“In intense times, it is great to get some peace and quiet,” he said.
And with Leuchars train station just around the corner, Mr Inches joked, “You can get out of there quite quickly.”
Sam McReavy, a second year English and history student, lives near the hospital in a part of town commonly referred to as the Badlands. He lives in a four-person flat and pays £570 a month.
According to Mr McReavy, the biggest advantage of living on the edge of town is the spacious house — albeit at a price. His flat includes four en-suite bedrooms, a large living room, a study room and two guest bathrooms, in addition to a nice back garden.
Living close to Aldi, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer is also an advantage.
“Of course, the disadvantage is the distance to the town centre,” Mr McReavy said.
He mostly walks or cycles, which shortens the trip to town to ten minutes. But the distance is a problem for house parties or after the Union closes.
Mr McReavy explained: “It’s hard to convince friends to come over because it’s a solid 20 minute walk.”
This year, second year Jennie Matthews moved from her hall to an eight bedroom house on North Street. On paper, the house sounds ideal: The six en-suite bedrooms are rented out for £534, the smaller ones for £522 a month. However, with a 12-month lease, Ms Matthews will have to pay rent during the summer.
She said: “It’s a very good location for going to classes and society meetings. It only takes you five minutes to get there on a morning.”
Ms Matthews also likes the location because it makes the house more sociable.
“For me, one of the main questions when looking for houses was, ‘Can I have Raisin here as soon as I have children of my own?’” she said.
However, the location is not without its disadvantages. Noise is an issue, as the walls in the house are very thin.
Ms Matthews said, “We live across from [the] Lizard, so Friday nights are bad because people are quite loud, and they also can look straight into the downstairs bedrooms.”
Despite the benefits of a home in Town Centre, Ms Matthews has decided to move out of her current home next year. She said the main issue with the house is its appearance.
“It looks like any other student house in other cities,” Ms Matthews said, adding that it doesn’t feel very much like home.
To get a house with a different vibe, she is willing to pay up to £700 a month.
Outlands, Badlands or Town Centre: In the end, St Andrews is a tiny place, and the differences in distance are rather marginal. How much one pays for rent frequently comes down to luck and connections rather than location.
Ultimately, everyone has different expectations and priorities for the place they want to live.
As Mr Inches said, “It’s a trade-off between lifestyle and money, really.”