You’ve Got to Live Somewhere: A Guide to Renting in St Andrews

It’s spring (again), a time of the year that heralds the beginning of our beloved St Andrews’ house-hunting season. So you’re ready to move out of halls, good for you. Alternatively, you’re desperately seeking an escape from the passive-aggressive hell of undone washing up that is your current flat. 

Either way, welcome to a semi-comprehensive guide to the places you’ll view, reject, then finally sign a lease for out of sheer necessity. It will inevitably be of a quality your future flatmates deem “alright, I guess”’, and will either be your most or least favourite. Here’s how it will go:

A House in the Badlands

You’ll be lured away from the centre of town by its close proximity to Morrison’s, Aldi, M&S, and the Botanic Gardens. This will all pale in comparison to the siren song of its (comparatively) low rent. The ad will also likely have mentioned a garden — which will be either amazing or awful (there is no in-between). 

This is a mixed bag, honestly. You might get a newly-renovated, sparkling five-bed with a massive back garden. You might get an old art-deco monstrosity bursting with “character” and creaky teak floors. An especially unlucky version of yourself might get one that’s falling apart, with disintegrating furniture and an impressive mould colony in the shower. 

Again, an extremely mixed bag. Hard to say. (Avoid.)

Something Near the Old Course

This flat/house of average niceness but above average rent will have huge and lovely windows, with what can be accurately (but not realistically) described as a “gorgeous view of the Old Course green”. More precisely, you’ll be able to see either drunk old men leaving the Rusacks Hotel, drunk old men golfing, or drunk old men getting even drunker, all against the backdrop of the aforementioned “gorgeous view”. 

 Your first walk through the place will be benignly confusing. There will be a weirdly large stack of books about Margaret Thatcher by the sofa, a few too many sets of golf clubs in only one of the bedrooms, and an innumerable number of loafers by the door. When you leave, you’ll walk past the classic Mini in the driveway and feel an irresistible urge to fix your hair. 

Either of the Two Private Student Accommodations (Which Shall Remain Nameless)

The kitchens will be glossy and appealing, the bedrooms will be unrealistically tidy, and the lift will be (surprisingly) speedy. Everything will be taken care of, the resolutely cheery people at reception will assure you. Both options are near the beach, which is nice; but also near the dodgy park, which is drastically less so. There will be a general sense of celery sticks and hummus about the place, with the attached gym topping it all off. 

But what they won’t tell you about is the ludicrous amount of flat drama that goes on, amplified by the constant fire alarm testing. Bafflingly bad vibes all round. Top tip: don’t. 

A Flat Above / Next To / Under(?) a Pub

The current tenants will be demonstrably cool, with wall tapestries and wine bottles lining the skirting around the whole flat. The carpets will invariably be some terrible shade of brown, and the bathroom floor will be strangely sticky. It will look like the sort of place visitors won’t want to take their coats off in. 

If you end up living there, you’ll tell yourself you love it, despite losing your already slippery grasp on your sanity (and dignity) — and will absolutely move out at the end of the year, if not before. 

Near the Union

This place will be perfect for pres, afters, dinner parties, birthday parties, morning drinking, afternoon drinking etc. The actual house/flat will be beautiful, but there will also be a mildly disconcerting lack of furniture. You’ll be very tempted, of course — sold by the visible glamorousness of its current inhabitants, who’ve lined every windowsill with succulents and stacked their coffee table with records. 

But when you leave the viewing there will be crows circling ominously above, which will make you wonder if you can really handle the pressure of living on Hope Street. 

By the Sea

This, in practice, means either a house on the Scores or on North Castle Street. It’ll be perfect, spacious, and beautiful. It comes with a 53-inch flat screen and a well-kept garden. The bedrooms will be massive and gorgeous — the beds, likewise: enough space for a moderately-sized orgy. You’ll love it. The moment you step in the door you’ll envision graceful garden parties, festive dinners, a rotation of beautiful people trickling in and out of your bed—

The rent will also be £1200 per person, per month — utilities excluded. The deposit will be twice that, if you’re lucky; thrice that, if you’re not. 

In the Side Streets

This category includes Bell Street, Church Street, Logies Lane, Rose Lane etc. The smallest of which can be generously called a side street, quaintly called a “path”, and unforgivingly called an “alley”.

Quality and experience varies hugely on this one. There’ll be some real gems tucked away in shady looking near-alleyways, but there’ll also be a number of crumbling mid century flats up five flights of narrow stairs.

For the smaller flats, how appealing it is will be inversely proportional to how many full-length mirrors the landlord has installed. One to two is ideal, but any more indicates a hapless landlord’s misguided attempts to expand a room through illusion and delusion. It will feel like you’re living in a circus funhouse — constantly confronted by your own gormless mug. Exercise extreme caution.

In the (Superior) Side Streets

This, to be absolutely clear, means College Street, Crail’s Lane and either of the Castle Streets. You can’t really go wrong with these. There’ll also be space on the quaintly cobbled pavement for your car, which you’ve obviously brought with you. 

There is literally nothing bad about these places — reasonably priced and tastefully renovated. Absolutely rent them… if you can. They’re the best that St Andrews has to offer and everyone knows it, so competition is ludicrously stiff. That means the people who end up living there are either extremely anal or a beneficiary of flat-nepotism. 

If you’re one of the above, honestly good for you: you deserve it. If you’re not, just move on: this is out of your league. 

On North Street, a Stones Throw Away from the Library

If you have a tendency towards delusion, this might be perfect for you. You’ll tell yourself you’ll go to the library all the time, but this will last at most a month or so. After that, you’ll convince yourself that working on your sofa is exactly the same — since you’re basically at the library anyway. 

The actual houses are very decent, though. Not a bad choice, when it comes down to it. 

On Market Street, Above a Shop 

You will, very literally, be at the centre of St Andrews itself. This comes with a number of perks, most notably including being in prime position for a last-minute dash to Tesco before Scotland’s alcohol curfew kicks in. The singular significant downside (or upside, if you’re into that sort of thing) is that everyone can and will inevitably see you changing. 

If you’re lucky enough to be on the ground floor, passers-by will definitely still see you changing — just from much closer up, so you can make direct eye contact and reverse the feeling of discomfort.

On South Street, the Best Street?

You’ll be living near all the art galleries, which makes for decent artistic street cred. It’s Market Street without the voyeurism, and North Street with better style. It’s the genteel suburbs to Market Street’s city centre, and you get to be literal seconds away from Janetta’s. You’ll also have the dubious privilege of living on the same street as yours truly. What’s not to like? 

Anyway, all the very best of luck, and do try and hold off your despair until at least the beginning of summer — things will very likely work themselves out before then. And if they don’t? Well, you can always go back into halls…