Why you need to check out accommodation when making your choices

Going to university can be a really exciting time. When you make the move, living somewhere new can be one of the best things about your uni experience – so choosing the right kind of place will set you up nicely.

Student accommodation comes in all shapes and sizes

Apart from how much it costs, student accommodation varies in a lot of other ways. From location and amenities to style and property type – you’ll probably have a good few options to choose between, most of which are managed by or in partnership with the university. Probably also a range of student house shares managed by private landlords.

If you already have a university (or several) in mind, take a look at the UCAS accommodation search to get an idea of what kinds of accommodation they offer. Then start to think about what living at uni could be like – and specifically the kind of place you’d like to live in.

Things to think about

  1. How many people you’d like to live with
  2. Living in a specific area of town
  3. How you’ll get to your campus from your accommodation – walking, bus ride?
  4. How long the contract is – do you want to live there over summer too?
  5. The kind of property – studio, apartment, shared house etc

Have a look around in person

The best way to get a feel for a place is to go and visit, spend some time there, and see if it’s a place you’d like to be for a year or more. If you go to any open days for the unis you’re interested in, make sure you go on the tour of student accommodation. You may be shown around their halls of residence on campus, or perhaps shared student flats/houses nearby. They might even show you more than one kind of accommodation so you can compare them.

You can also take virtual tours to get an initial idea of what uni campuses are like before you visit them yourself. Many of these online tours include accommodation options too – it’s not the same as seeing the space and location in person, but still a great start.

Choose an area you’d like to live in

See whereabouts the different accommodation options are at your chosen uni. Often they’re spread out across the town or city they’re based in – though always within a reasonable walk or a short bus ride away.

But, more than that, what part of town can you see yourself living in? Maybe somewhere with nightlife nearby or somewhere with a lot of green spaces? Maybe you’d like to be near a leisure centre or a gym. Or restaurants? Or a cinema?

Could where the accommodation is located be more important to you than what kind of property it is?

Apply for university accommodation early  

After your UCAS application and when you have a better idea of where you’ll be studying, you’ll then apply directly to your university for a place to live. A lot of universities have a deadline for accommodation applications – and often encourage students to apply for a few accommodation options, in order of your preference. So if you can apply by the deadline you’ll have a better chance of getting the accommodation you’re interested in

Take a look at uni websites to get an idea of when you’ll be able to apply for a place to live. For most universities it’s probably a while after you first submit your UCAS application, but it’s worth a look so you know how much time you have to decide.

Do you want to live with people you already know?

If you’re going to a local uni and you’d like to live with friends from school – or if a few of you are heading further afield – you might be able to ask to live together. Or alternatively, you could skip university-managed accommodation altogether and look for a shared student house with a private landlord.

Think about what’s important to you!

If you have a few ideas but you’re not sure how to choose, feel free to chat to some students who are already at uni to see how they came to their decisions. Don’t worry about it too much though – wherever you end up will be a new experience and you’ll meet lots of people who are in the same boat.

And many students move into different accommodation in their second year when they know the town or city better. Who knows, you might live on a different side of town each year!