Old Post: Leeds Room-Hunting

Originally published 28 August 2013.


Today was a bit of a scary day. I went up to Leeds to “survey” the city and find a place to live for next year.

I was plagued by all the possible what-ifs: What if I can’t find a nice place? What if I don’t like the city? What if I don’t like the uni? What if – what if – what if.

Nevertheless, I insisted on beginning positively, to let confirmation bias do its work so I would like everything.

And I did.

So I got on the train at Leicester and found someone had taken my reserved seat – one of my pet peeves. Great start. But the Derby to Leeds train was good, so that helped. The train arrived at Leeds station and I disembarked.

It may sound silly, but I find the impressions stations make on me very important. If I don’t like the city’s station, I will view the city in a somewhat negative light. It’s the reason I like Rotterdam so much – I mean, Rotterdam’s a nice city to begin with, but I’m in awe of its new central station. But the station was good – big, multi-track (not Leicester’s rather sad 4 tracks), plenty of shops. It’s got a pub. So, good one there.

I had given myself 2 hours to wander about a bit, discover the centre, before my Unipol appointment, so I decided to explore Starbucks. Pretty building, good iced caramel macchiato.

The centre has plenty of chain shops, the big ones, and also a few small shops, nice arcades and parades. And relatively few closed sites, so I take it the local economy is – well, in a fairly healthy shape. More plus points. Negative point was that I only discovered a WH Smith’s, I do prefer Waterstones.

With half an hour left to kill, I looked at my map to see whether there were other places I could walk to that may be worth exploring. So I popped into the Art Gallery. And this more or less sealed the deal on the city for me.

I’m not a fan of modern art, not at all, so the first few rooms, with fairly non-sensical modern art sculptures were a bit disappointing. But there’s one room there with proper art. And it happens to hold two paintings I’ve always liked.

Tissot’s The Bridesmaid

and Leighton’s The Return of Persephone, which was either in my Latin or Ancient Cultures text book in secondary school and is always in my mind whenever someone mentions Persephone or pomegranate seeds.

So I was already sold on the city before having seen any houses. I attended my 3pm meeting, and Charlotte from Unipol took me to see four properties. The first one was one I’d already seen on the website and was very eager to see – indeed, this was my first choice. It was really good too, nice location, nice greenery, loads of space, good rent – but slightly old kitchen and bathrooms. The second had only one room left, and was in another nice location, less greenery but closer to shops and the uni (marginally), good rent, and really new kitchen and bathroom (2012!), but slightly less well-placed bedroom. Lots of storage space, though. And loads of sockets. 
Third and fourth were both really close to the uni and shops, good rent still, but the space and fittings weren’t as great as on the other two. Also, they didn’t offer as great a space to store my bicycle – it may be old and rickety, but she’s too good still to just leave in the street. 
So I was taken back to the Unipol office and left to myself to make a decision. And it was a tough one. Eventually, however, I settled on the second one. It’s got a lounge anyway, so if I get fed up with my room I can come out and be social; but kitchen and bathrooms are really important to me; I’m always moaning about the state of either. I’m also always moaning about distance to shops (and am very gleeful when I’m close), so although the bedroom didn’t fulfil all my desires, the rest of the house makes up for this in a major way. Plus, it’s got a BBQ spot. 

So, I signed the contract (after a thorough read, of course!) and paid my deposit, and now I can pick up the key next week and move in. Pretty scary but also very very exciting.

I spent the remaining 2 hours before my trains would leave wandering about the uni campus, just to see whether I could like it. And by God, did I like it!

This is the building you see most often when Google Image-searching ‘University of Leeds’. It’s very impressive. Like the bell tower. Also, there’s a Blackwell’s nearby. I’m pleased. 


Just a general impression. Properly redbrick 😉 So that’s cool. And I like the style of it, it’s pretty. And greenery! I love greenery. 
So, in general I quite liked the campus. There are also some modern buildings that don’t really do it for me, but I’ll just try and stick to the pretty side 😉  I’m very much looking forward to starting. 
On my way back to the station I passed City Hall:


Also very impressive, and quite indicative of the sort of fancy architecture that marks Leeds city centre. And guess what! I found a Waterstones. 
So all in all, I’m happy. I like the city, I like the uni, and I’ve come back home clutching a contract for a proper room in Leeds. Can’t wait to move! 😀

Author: Ilse A Ras

There are times when I am doing research on crime news and language; sometimes I'm obsessed, sometimes I'm bored, and sometimes my tea is getting cold.

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