Many first years will find themselves living in halls of residence, the classic uni experience – and each uni will let you know whether that’s guaranteed, or just an option. From the second year, you’ll probably have gathered a group of mates and found a house together. Sometimes this works the other way around, but what is always the case is that what you need is personal to you. You should take time to really understand what’s available, the pros and cons of each option and how that fits with how you live.
'Halls promotes independence – you’re going it alone, but you’re surrounded by people you get on well with.' First year student
Things you can do to help you find the right student accommodation:
Halls of residence
Normally situated on/near campus, they’re run by the uni and designed to be convenient and sociable. Generally, the rooms can be smaller but the kitchens are big, and bathrooms are often shared. There’ll be lots of you living together, mostly first years, so parties are going to break out pretty often.
Expect to make friends easily, but while you’re washing up your cereal bowl that somebody else has used. Again.
Halls of residence are popular. Check when registration opens and get your name down early. Your chosen uni will be on top of this – so you’ll be asked to provide your top three choices, and you’ll be able to choose between different halls based on location, price, facilities etc.
‘I’m from a small town – halls has really helped me get my social life up and running in London.’ First year student
Private halls of residence
There are also plenty of halls which aren’t necessarily run by your uni, but are still designed exclusively for students and offer a lot of variety. There are some big players, but also regionally based companies too – it’s definitely worth checking them out. They’re often in town, as they can be open to students from any university – so it’s a great way to make even more friends. You’ll get all the services you’d expect with uni halls, plus potentially more – as well as a great location.
Most private accommodation includes all heating, WiFi, and electricity in the price of your rent – so you know exactly where you stand.
If you’re looking for central, convenient living with a diverse group of students, then private halls could be the way.
If the idea of sharing a bathroom with 40 strangers, or being woken up by that same dubstep track for the third night in a row isn’t your thing, then a house might be better.
You can rent by yourself, but most people find other students to share with. Your uni can often help with this, or there are plenty of websites to connect you to house or flat-shares.
Like private halls, you could find yourself living with students from other universities, or those in their second or third years. Most students move into houses with their mates after the first year anyway, so consider yourself a trendsetter if you follow this route.
A great way to find out what the student accommodation is really like, is obviously to ask actual students. You can chat to students already at uni on ucas.com, and ask all the questions the websites don’t answer.