DUB visits a tiny room and a huge room

Some students live in a shoebox, others in a ballroom

Grote kamer, foto privébezit
The band Iets Meer Jus, rehearsing. Photo by Luca

It's not unusual for relatively small rooms to be made to look more beautiful on online ads than they actually are. "If you arrange things like so, you can actually fit a lot of stuff in it," they say. Or they argue that you can put some of your stuff in the hallway or living room. Or that you will probably be able to move to a bigger room soon. Regardless of whether all that is true or not, what is it like to live in a really small room? Should students with large rooms consider themselves lucky?

Small but cosy: "I'm constantly confronted with my own messiness"

Meike in haar studentenkamer

Meike in her room. Photo: Julie Nijburg

Meike (19), who studies both Psychology and Law, lives in the centre of Utrecht in a typical manor house. She has to make do with the smallest room in the house, though, one that spans across 8 square metres. Her five roommates are all living in bigger rooms. Hers is located on the 2nd floor. Although the ceiling isn’t that high, the room does get a lot of sunlight. Meike says she feels completely at home in her room. “The fact that it’s small doesn’t bother me. I think it’s cosy and I love spending time in it.”

Before she moved to this house, Meike was living in a 21-square-metre room in Lombok. Although the room was big for Utrecht standards, she didn’t really feel comfortable in it, not to mention it was quite expensive: she was paying 525 euros per month for it. She heard about the small room in the manor house through word of mouth, and the monthly rent of 325 euros was a relief.

Since she lost 13 square metres of real estate, she had to get rid of some stuff. "I had a nice little nook with a record player but I had to get rid of all those things. The same goes for my couch, glass table and one of my two wardrobes. A small cabinet, which was pretty much empty and basically served as a décor piece in my old room moved along with me and is now completely stuffed.”

Living in a smaller room comes with a bigger share of chaos, at least for Meike: “It's okay now when it comes to tidying up, but sometimes, when there is too much stuff here, I find myself holding something in my hand looking for somewhere to put it but there is actually no place for it. In my old room, I could put all the mess in one place and then the rest of the room would just be clean and calm. But that's impossible to do here. I am constantly confronted with my own messiness.” But that disadvantage is soon forgotten when she looks at the bigger picture. “The location is fantastic, the atmosphere in the house is really great. I don’t have much cleaning to do and I don’t have to borrow as much money from DUO as I did to pay for my old room.”

Although Meike’s room does get a lot of sunlight, sometimes it feels a bit cluttered. Luckily, she can count on her roommates: one of them often allows her to relax in their room, which spans across 18 square metres. They study or procrastinate together every day. She also enjoys regular movie nights in another roommate's room.

She thinks it's a shame that the house doesn’t have a living room where everyone can gather. At the same time, she doesn’t have to cycle far to get that cosy living room feeling. “My friend Luca, who has a huge room, lives practically in the same street, so I often go there just to lie on her couch.  So my living room is actually there!"

Nice and big: "This is my friends' clubhouse"

Luca in haar studentenkamer

Luca in her room. Photo: Julie Nijburg

“Wow, is this your room?” That’s what people usually say when they first enter Luca's palace, a 35 square-metre room which has already been confused with the living room of the house. Some even call it a "ballroom". It’s the largest room in a manor house near Ledig Erf.

Luca (21), a Psychology student, loves the space, especially when people come over. “This is sort of my friends’ clubhouse.” Every week, her band Iets Meer Jus rehearses there. The band has eight members, including Meike, whose guitar is stored in Luca's room for lack of space in her own. Luca is the vocalist of the band. Luca appreciates the fact that her friends can enjoy her room too. “There have even been times when I wasn’t home and someone was rehearsing in my room.”

In addition to the music corner, Luca's room has enough space for a double bed, an elaborate clothing collection, a really big couch, a dining table, and a huge plant. But before Luca found this luxurious space, she lived in two smaller rooms. The first one, in Lombok, had 24 square metres of space. The second one was even smaller: only 14 square metres. But it was in her current house, which she came across thanks to an acquaintance. 

Luca took the largest room in the house when its previous occupant left, although she had to think twice before making that decision as the room's monthly price tag is 765 euros. “That’s a lot of money. But I was already paying 530 euros for a much smaller room with a  really tiny window. It was actually more like a hutch, while my current room is a real palace.”

Although she has to borrow a bit more money to afford the rent, Luca has a side job and she can also count on a monthly allowance from her parents. “I am aware that this is not possible for everyone. I’m so grateful that I can live here. I love spending time at home now. I feel great here.”

Are there any disadvantages to living in such a large room? “The price is definitely a disadvantage. It is really expensive. It’s also hard to get it warm in winter, not only because it is a big space with a high ceiling but also because the window is single-glazed." She is not sure how long she can stay in the room, either. “This is a monumental building and, before I moved in, the landlord was not allowed to renovate it. Now, they can officially make some changes to it, but I'm not sure if or when they will renovate it." Luca admits to getting a bit anxious about that. “I’m so happy with this room. I really don’t want to leave.”

Is your room even smaller than Meike's or even bigger than Luca's? Then DUB wants to hear from you! We're looking for both the smallest and the biggest student rooms in Utrecht. Please get in touch with us via e-mail: DUBredactie@uu.nl.