When the first year discussions divert - way too quickly, in my opinion -from "what course do you study?" to "do you want to live together next year?", there's generally one 'ideal' place on a Newcastle student's mind, and that's Jesmond. It's seen as 'the promised land' that all first years are itching to get to once they're fed up of eight-person flats and accommodation fire alarms. But as the house hunting begins and the signing races ensue, other student areas are often overlooked, such as Sandyford and Heaton, which shouldn't be the case.
Because, layout and amenities wise, they're all very similar. All three boast bars, eateries, shopping streets, green spaces, and a community feel. Think Café 1901, Aidan's kitchen, Butterfly Cabinet. Jesmond dene, Armstrong park, Heaton park. I could go on. The only difference is that Jesmond has a lot more preconceptions about it that make it appear more desirable, but this actually works against it as its prices hike up year upon year. One large misconception is that it's seen as where 'all the students go', the heart of the action and the student community, despite actually having a large residential population made up of families and older people to disprove this. Also, you are not limited to Jesmond if you want to be surrounded by fellow students … students are everywhere, from the city centre to North Shields.
To clarify, this is by no means Jesmond slander. I lived there myself last year, and there were things I absolutely loved: Osbornes, Jesmond dene, Subway at the end of my street... but I don't think these perks are as utterly extraordinary and unique as some students make out - every area will have its own alternatives. I live in Sandyford now, and I haven't felt a massive difference. The only things I would say are: I no longer have to take out a mortgage to shop at my local, and I'm much closer to university.
I'm aware that the same doesn't ring true for Heaton as it's further out - but thankfully we're blessed with transport links and capped fares. And it's well worth the journey, as it's home to the iconic Chillingham road, with a range of places to eat, drink, and shop - from Sobremesa to Sainsburys local.
So realistically, there's not a massive difference between Jesmond, Sandyford, or Heaton. They all boast a lively student community with similar facilities - rather than choose solely based on hype, it's best to consider where you'd be happiest. After all, Newcastle is such a walkable city, if you feel like you're missing out the next neighbourhood is a 20 minute walk over, maximum.