We’ve all seen the brand-new tower blocks looming ominously over the Sheffield skyline, promising the earth to university students. With over 60,000 of them across Uni of and Hallam, it’s little wonder that companies are vying for their money, snatching desperately at the wallets of those who study here. With a student retention rate of roughly a third, however, one would hope that the companies in charge would (just maybe) think to accommodate the young professionals who choose to make Sheffield their home.
I arrived in Sheffield in 2014, Home Counties accent firmly in place, with the expectation that I’d faff about for three years in somewhere where I could afford the pints and then swan back home to a London grad scheme. Naturally, I fell in love with the place, and you couldn’t pay me enough to move back south. There are good jobs to be found in the city, and it’s got great connections to nearby towns and cities like Leeds. The problem, I’ve found, is the housing.
Having had friends who live in studios, I know it’s probably not for me. I’m fortunate enough to have a boyfriend with whom I can split the rent, so I’ve been trying to find housing that I can afford on my salary and (hopefully) his PhD grant. When house-hunting, my price point seems to phase out the ‘young professional’ accommodation. It just so happens that every other flat that holds promise contains that nasty little phrase: “Available July 2019, student let”. I’ve been a student for five years. I’m fed up of washing machines that don’t work, boilers that shudder when you turn them on, and windows that let out whatever heat the pathetic radiators emit. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for a modern-enough block where I won’t be woken up by second-years pouring in from Corp at half three. It’s nothing against them, it’s just that we will live very different lives.
The money to build the houses is clearly there. Plenty of people choose to stay in Sheffield after graduation, seeking to build their lives in this great city: if only the housing developers realised, or perhaps if only they cared.
Image: Dave Bevis