Thursday 20 July 2017

Student accommodation crisis: 'I spent last year of college course couch-surfing'

Student Aaron Birchmore struggled to find accommodation and relied on the help of friends before finding a shared house when he finished his studies and started working Photo: Andrew Downes
Student Aaron Birchmore struggled to find accommodation and relied on the help of friends before finding a shared house when he finished his studies and started working Photo: Andrew Downes

Sorcha O'Connor

Aaron Birchmore had to resort to couch-surfing his way through arguably one of the most important college years, because he couldn't find accommodation.

Although he began a search in June 2016 for somewhere to live when he returned to college last September, he had no luck in securing an affordable place to rent.

"I was looking from June, and all the way through the year, to find accommodation that was fairly close to college at a reasonable price. Even looking at Daft.ie or other sites online didn't prove too fruitful," he said.

As the college year began, Aaron bused the daily, 161km round trip from home in Letterfrack, Connemara, to NUI Galway for his MSc in Water Resources Engineering.

However, as his workload increased, the bus became impractical, and sleeping on friends' sofas became the norm.

"From Tuesday to Thursday I'd stay in a friend's house. If there were group projects or meetings, I'd have to stay those nights too.

"For a couple of weeks, I'd spend at least three nights of the week on a mate's couch and jump to another mate's house the next week just so I wouldn't be too long in the one place and annoying my friends," he said.

When Aaron (25) started working for an engineering firm this summer, he still had nowhere to call his own in the city. Apartments were either over-budget or too far away.

"Anything that was coming up was at least €600 a month, Some places were as far out as Tuam; as well as paying high rent I'd have been paying at least €40 a week for buses."

Aaron's luck turned in recent weeks when he found a place to share with friends in Rahoon, Galway city.

Irish Independent

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