As if there weren’t enough choices already to be made when choosing a university, one of the things you will also need to think about is where you will stay. What are the different types of student accommodation open to you and what are the pros and cons of each?
Usually, most 1st year students will opt for university student accommodation on campus. It is a good first step as your first time away from home and you will be right in the thick of all the activities. But not all universities have campus accommodation and campus accommodation will not suit everyone so you will want to do your research and think about what suits you best.
Halls of residence
The most common type of student accommodation, these tend to be large blocks of flats owned by the university and built on campus, mainly for first year students. Student halls offer great opportunity to socialise and get stuck in with university life straight away, although they are not for everyone.
There are also slightly different types of halls available such as; catered (meals served in the halls canteen), self-catered (full kitchen and amenities provided to make all your own meals), en-suite or shared bathrooms.
Advantages: Sociable and friendly living environment. Likely to live close to other university buildings and course location.
Disadvantages: Often shared amenities. Tend to be louder, more going on.
Private halls of residence
Similar to university halls, but owned by private companies. They tend to be more expensive, however, built to a high-spec with modern interiors and quality amenities. Like university-owned halls, all other residents will be students in their first or second year making it a very social, friendly environment.
Advantages: Higher quality interiors and design.
Disadvantages: More expensive than university-owned halls.
Most students will move into a shared house or flat in their second and third year of university. If lucky enough to have made good friends in first year either through halls, course or societies, these may be the people you choose to live with the following year. However, this can be complicated. You have to get in early to reserve accommodation for the next year which may mean you find yourself securing a house and paying a deposit, choosing to live with people you’ve only know for a matter of weeks. By the time next September comes around, you may not even be close with these people anymore yet you are stuck living with them the entire second year.
Some students may also drop out between first and second year meaning there are spare rooms left needing to be filled. In this case, first year students who either haven’t managed to secure a halls of residence or those who would just prefer to be in a house with less people, end up filling these spaces.
Advantages: Living with students who have already been at uni a year or two and can offer advice, show you around etc. Renting a room in a shared house can also be a cheaper type of accommodation for students.
Disadvantages: Older students have already established their friendship groups. Plus, it is unlikely you will be with other first years in the same boat as you.
University owned houses/flats
Again, similar to the above, some universities own a range of houses and flat that can be rented out by students. There is no major difference in this option compared to regular shared housing, however, in some instances there may be benefits to university-owned accommodation relating to student issues etc.
An option more common for international students is to stay with a host family. This kind of accommodation for students offers a ‘home from home’ experience involving living with a family with the option of cooked meals and laundry too! This is a super affordable option and can often be more suitable for international or placement students as there are short-term options.
Advantages: Experience home comforts with minimal commitment at an affordable price.
Disadvantages: Won’t be living with other students and will need to make more effort when it comes to socialising and making friends.
How to choose the right student accommodation?
As you can see, there are multiple options available when it comes to accommodation for students. There are no better or worse options but you will find that each one comes with its advantages and disadvantages. If possible, pick one that feels the most suitable for you depending on the type of person you are and what you want to get out of your university experience.
If you are an outgoing, sociable person who loves a party – your best option is likely to be halls of residence. Here, you will be surrounded by hundreds of like-minded students and there will always be something going on. On the other hand, if you prefer to keep to yourself and aren’t as bothered about the social side of uni, you may be better off in a shared house. Although, it is recommended to meet the people you will potentially be living with or find out what they are like beforehand to ensure you are on the same page in terms of study and lifestyle. Alternatively, living with a hosting family will offer a quiet yet comfortable environment.
Alongside this, there are multiple other factors to consider when choosing where you are going to live at university.
- Location – Does the area feel safe? Is it close to local amenities such as a supermarket or gym? Is there good transport links?
- Commute – Have you checked where your course will be based? Are you within walking distance? If not, could you easily get into uni via public transport?
- Cost – Have you factored in your outgoings alongside rent? If in student housing, bills, TV license and WiFi may not be included in the price, will you have the funds to cover this? Remember to budget for food and social costs too!
- Dates and times – Do move in dates match up with your course start date? Will you have enough time to organise additional bills and features that come with living in a rented house?
Try not to get too overwhelmed by this process and make sure you look at and consider all options regarding accommodation for students before making a final decision. This is just the beginning and there is so much to look forward to including moving out, what to take to uni, signing up to societies and more… good luck!