Can I live in halls in my second or third year?

There comes a time during your first or second year of university when you need to start thinking about where you're going to live next. But if you’re not sure that private accommodation is for you, is it possible to stay in halls?

The second year housing dilemma

Many people will team up with their first year flatmates or friends from their course to privately rent shared accommodation, which can be great fun. But are there any other options?

Contrary to popular belief, you can stay in uni halls of residence beyond your first year, and many students continue to live in halls for their second and third years. So, if you’re thinking about where to live for your second or third year of university and didn’t know that halls were an option, keep reading to find out more.

Why might you want to stay in halls?

There are many reasons why you might want to stay in halls for your second or third year of university. Maybe you haven’t found people you want to live with for the rest of your time at university. Maybe you like being close to campus and having everything you need on-hand. At some universities, second or third year students who choose to stay in halls also have the option of becoming a ‘senior resident’. This means you’ll get a discount on your rent in return for being on-call if any issues come up with first-year residents.

What’s it like staying in halls as a second or third year?

As with any student accommodation option, there are pros and cons of staying in halls past your first year of uni.

As you’ll know from being a fresher, halls offer a great opportunity to socialise and make friends. If you love the buzz of being around lots of different people, then staying on at halls could be a great choice for you.

Upsides of staying in halls

Most halls of residence also have a cleaner who comes in regularly to tidy the communal areas. That means you don’t need to worry about keeping anything but your own room tidy if you stay in halls, and you don’t need to create a cleaning rota for you and your flatmates - a source of many arguments in privately rented accommodation!

Halls can also feel a lot safer than renting a house or flat yourself. On-site security will put your mind at ease, and you know that you can trust your landlord if anything goes wrong. Some universities even cover contents insurance for students living in their halls. This usually covers fire, flood and theft for the possessions and gadgets you keep in your room.

There’s generally less admin to do when you continue to live in halls, as your bills are usually covered as part of your rent. When renting privately, however, you need to think about paying for gas and electricity, setting up and paying for broadband, and sending off council tax exemption forms. You’ll also need to work out how to split all of these tasks and payments between you and your flatmates.

When renting with friends, there’s nearly always a monthly argument about someone not paying their share of the bill - a real test of any friendship! But in halls, your utilities are included so there’s no need to worry about this.

Downsides of staying in halls

On the downside, you might find the hustle and bustle of halls a distraction when you need to get down to some serious studying in your second and third years. First years don’t tend to have quite as many academic commitments as those in later years, so other residents might not be sympathetic to your need for peace and quiet. At least if you’re staying in private accommodation with other second or third years, you’ll all be understanding of each other’s deadlines and exams.

Another potential drawback to consider is that halls of residence are generally more expensive than private rentals. Although you don’t need to set aside money to pay bills when you’re in halls, you’ll pay more for this convenience.

When should you start looking for second year accommodation?

Every university has different deadlines for student housing applications, so it’s best to check with your institution to find out when you’ll need to apply to stay in halls for another year. It’s usually sometime between December and February.

Can you always stay in halls as a second or third year?

It’s not always possible to continue living in halls, for a number of reasons.

Some universities simply don’t have enough halls of residence to accommodate first years and older years, so they only reserve spaces in halls for freshers. If this is the case and you want to continue living in halls, your best option is to apply to be a senior resident.

Other universities reserve a certain number of spaces for second and third year students, but you might just miss out on nabbing one of these places. If this happens, it’s always worth asking your university if they can place you on the waiting list, as there are bound to be people who drop out or decide to move in with their friends instead.

What’s next?

If you don't stay in halls, you might need our tips on renting as a student. And wherever you end up, get to know your rights as a student tenant.

Or start your student accommodation search here