You know what they say - you can choose your friends but not your family. But how on earth do you choose the friends you want to live with? A year in advance? When you've only known them for a few months?
The key is to be as logical about it as possible - now is not the time to drunkenly declare your love to a fellow fresher over cheesy chips and ask them to move in with you, only to regret it the next morning. Now is the time to work out what (as well as who) is important to you and why. Some things to consider:
- Group dynamics and personality mix (e.g. living with couples can be risky)
- Practicalities (e.g. are we all on similar budgets? Do we want all-inclusive bills?)
- Habits (e.g. smokers)
- Lifestyle factors (e.g. what hours do they socialise? Are they a night-owl or an early-riser?)
Regardless of who you choose to live with, there will be arguments over washing rotas; there will be passive-aggressive post-it notes left on the fridge over who drank whose milk; and there will be Cold Wars started over something as small as forgetting to take the recycling out. The important thing is to find people who you can sustain your relationship with through the tough times as well as the terrific ones.
If you do decide to go it alone, private halls are a great idea, as they give you both your own private space as well as a community around you, and may offer you new social circles and opportunities. Most student halls have self-contained studios within 4-6 person flat set-ups, proving that not being on top of one another doesn't mean you have to be far away from each other either.
Finally, don't panic and rush into anything you don't want to. It is easy to get caught up in the lettings-hysteria around December time, panicking that all estate agents will be shut from New Years onwards because they will have 'run out' of housing, but it simply isn't the case. Remember: there is no flat-rate for finding a flat-mate, and no deadline other than your own time!