Still Looking For a Kip For College?

It’s dog-eat-dog on the streets of Cork the last couple of weeks as students climb over each other to secure a home for the new college year in the middle of a raging rental crisis. Most will try to find a happy medium between cost and conditions but there are always a hardcore for whom cost is number one.

If the only thing on your mind is keeping your monthly rent as low as possible then so you’ll need to look out for easily identifiable student gafs in places like College Road, Bandon Road and Barrack Street. Anything that doesn’t scream ‘first year arts’ is going to be pricey so be careful.

What mess?

This is not a question of you lowering your standards per se (if you aren’t from Cork you’re unlikely to have very high standards anyway) but instead a matter of simple pragmatism: less rent means more beer.

Dropping to base level on the home front also means the only way is up and if you’re eighteen years old then you’ve got a long way to go before you rise to the splendour of a two bed semi in Little Island overlooking a toxic incinerator in your mid-twenties. Take your time.

There are five classic signs to look out for when trying to find the cheapest place in town.

The first is single pane windows – anyone under twenty who thinks they need double glazing isn’t wearing enough clothes. Plus, nobody ever said you were only allowed wear parka jackets outdoors and packs of thermal long-johns are as cheap as chips in town. Double glazing is only for softies.

Paint peeling off the front walls of the house is the second sign that this particular hovel may be ‘the one’. If a slumlord is worth his slummy salt then the original paint job from when the house was built in 1972 will be the last time this place got a lick. And if the outside is gammy you can only imagine what the inside is like – perfectly manky. And cheap.

Thirdly, if you’d like to be a bit further away from the college (say, more than 100 drunken stumbles from where you’re first lecture is on a Friday morning) then you might have the added luxury of a front “garden”.

If this hasn’t been badly concreted over already then the height of the weeds will give you a good idea of what rent to expect. A good guide is if the stalks are thicker than your wrist then you’re on to a good thing – this is bound to be right at the cut-price-cut-throat end of the rental market.

The obligatory living room traffic cone

Fourth, many landlords with desperately poor student houses to let do it through a letting agency because it allows them to side step the shame of showing somebody around what looks like the inside of a refuse truck.

However, it is those slumlords who are happy to deal with tenants face to face that are letting out the worst places – they suffer no guilt at all when they tell you that they won’t be doing anything about the smashed shower head, the flattened tayto box where the glass in the front door should be or the topless fella in the living room having a bad trip at eleven o’clock on a Wednesday morning.

These operators will do you a ‘good’ deal as long as you’re willing to turn a blind eye to a few things – some of which include rodents, petty criminals, open air bathrooms  and your own self respect.

As you step inside your new hovel you’ll know instantly whether this is the right kip for you or not by looking down where you’re standing. If the carpet looks freshly hoovered and there isn’t a slice of decaying pizza in mashed into the ground you’re in ‘double trouble’ – rents for gafs whose landlords have some type of ‘conscience’ are usually double those who are free of any morality.

Finally, the fifth classic sign that a gaf is one level above that of a burned out slurry tank in Mogadishu is a faded Kerry flag in a window. This crowd will stay in any kind of a pit so if you’re comfortable spending a year talking about the demise of the big ball in Kerry while rats cosy up in empty snackboxes on the suiting room floor then keep your eyes peeled for the lime and yellow of the Kingdom around the Rebel city!