Student Accommodation Choices
For students, picking a university isn’t the only big decision you have to make. You also have a big decision on where you will stay. Whether you choose to stay in halls or share a house, this will be as big a part of your university experience as which course you choose. At Student Rents we’ve decided to use our expertise to make navigating the student accommodation market a simpler experience. If you can’t decide between staying in University-run Halls, Private Halls, or simply sharing a house – fear not because we’ve laid out the plus and down points of each option.
University Halls of Residence
Staying in University-run Halls of Residence is typically the most common choice for fresher’s, with most universities guaranteeing students accommodation in their first years.
- Great for making new friends. You’ll be sharing a flat with between 3-15 other students and most will be new to the area and university life.
- Socials! University halls will typically have student-run residents’ associations or junior common rooms (JCRs) that will organise regular social events, from bar crawls to bowling.
- Get involved! Most university run halls offer opportunities for you to help out and get experience by running to be on the JCR. This could be all-important when you’re looking for that summer internship.
- No need to worry: expect Wi-Fi and bills to all be taken care off when you get there. Everything should be included in your rent.
- Unlimited heating. With bills all included you can leave the heating on as long as you want through cold British winters.
- Can’t cook? Don’t worry, some halls are fully catered which means that you can avoid learning how to cook for another year.
- Usually more expensive than sharing a house.
- Bad for quiet study. University halls tend to be very noisy because most students staying there are first years who are (understandably) more interested in partying than getting a First. Getting a good night’s sleep might be challenging.
- Queueing for breakfast. If you’re staying in catered halls, expect to spend age’s queueing for breakfast and dinner, but sometimes it allows you to choice from the many offerings.
- No choice in who you live with. There’s always a chance you’ll end up sharing with people who you have nothing in common with, but you may meet many nice friends and partners.
- Sharing a bathroom with eight other people. Enough said!
- Fire alarms going off. Expect fire alarms to go off in the middle night as drunk students fail in their attempts to make toast.
Private halls offer a similar experience to university halls but are run by private companies instead of the university. As these halls are not run by any particular university, you may end up sharing with students from a variety of different universities.
- Meet new friends from a wide range of courses and universities. You’ll be sharing with other students, so if you’re new to the city you can make friends easily.
- While not as common as in uni-run halls, some private halls organise social events to make your experience as enjoyable as possible and integrate with others.
- All-inclusive – expect gas, electric, and broadband to be included in the price. Some halls even offer contents insurance (don’t tell the rents and pocket the change).
- Live in luxury. Private halls are typically maintained to a higher standard than university halls and many offer spacious communal areas with comfy sofas and flat screen TVs.
- Many halls offer a choice between catered and non-catered accommodation.
- Extra perks. Private halls increasingly offer benefits like 24hr gym membership included in the cost.
- Shorter tenancy. Unlike other private accommodation you won’t be paying rent over the summer holidays.
- Price! Typically private halls are the most expensive of all three options. However it doesn’t look too bad once you consider that bills are included.
- Less support. Unlike university halls, private halls are less likely to have in-house pastoral care on offer.
- You may have less in common with your housemates in private halls, so it may be a little harder to make friends.
- Noise. Whether you choose university-run or private halls, expect it to be loud.
- Location. Make sure to check how far the hall is from your university, typically university run halls will be the closest to campus or on a short commute typically serviced by local transport service routes.
Sharing a House
Sharing a privately-rented flat is the most popular option for second and third years. In most cases you’ll be living with the friends you’ve made on your course.
- You get to choose your housemates, which means staying with friends rather than complete strangers.
- It’s cheaper. Expect to make big savings when you switch from halls to sharing a house.
- More choice. Sharing a house typically means having more freedom to choose your providers for things like broadband and electricity.
- Noise is less of a problem. Well, as long as you pick the right housemates.
- Independence. Living in halls isn’t too much different from living at home, but moving into shared accommodation means taking responsibility and learning in the process.
- No cleaners, cooks or security. It’s just you and your housemates, so you won’t have the same additional support as you would have in halls.
- Choose your housemates carefully because you’re going to be stuck with them for the year.
- Longer tenancy agreements, some landlords ask for 44/52 week tenancy agreement so you may be paying rent over the summer holidays. If you’re lucky though some landlords will only charge half the cost of rent over the summer months.
- Risk of burglary. Student houses are frequently targeted by burglars for their poor security. If you’re sharing a house, make sure to ask the landlord to put locks on the windows and good mortice locks on the front door.
- Keeping shared areas clean can lead to heated disputes. Make sure to come up with a cleaning rota to keep arguments to a minimum.
- Location – expect to travel a bit further to university when you’re staying in private accommodation.