Having the option to move into student accommodation during your time at university is a great way to experience having your own home. It allows you to prepare for the future. They also function as great tools to utilise if the university is too far from home, or if the travelling distance and / or costs is too much to endure. The main question now though is which one to choose; the university halls, privately run student flats or private housing? Allow me to run through each of them one by one.
University halls are on-campus buildings that are owned by the university. You will live alongside your peers, in your own room of course, but you will share some facilities such as the kitchen and bathrooms (although your own room will have a washing basin at least).
They are housing facilities that are ideal for first years for a number of reasons. They’re relatively easy to get into, because as soon as you get your acceptance letter, most universities will allow you access immediately. All of the bills aside from the TV license (and sometimes the internet – ask in advance) are taken care of in the rental costs. And they usually come with a cleaning service, so you can focus on your studies rather than changing your bedsheets (but please, be responsible).
Because of this, university halls are the simplest option because of the aforementioned ease of entry and the fact that a lot of the costs are taken care of, but if you’re looking for the ‘not living at home’ experience they are not recommended, because they reflect that the least accurately.
Student flats are basically the same deal as the university halls, except they are off campus and owned by a third party company. Once again you’ll be living alongside your peers with a shared kitchen, but the main difference is that most of these flats do come with an on-suite bathroom. So if you’re looking for more privacy, this is the option to go for.
They are ideal for first years who want more freedom and independence than the university halls can offer. Because even though most of the costs are covered in the same vein (TV licence and internet are separate costs again), they don’t usually come with a cleaning service without paying a premium. They also have to be sought out and booked in advance, as opposed to on-campus accommodation where you are usually accepted from the get-go.
Out of the three options discussed in this article, Student Flats are, rather conveniently, the middle option when it comes to simplicity and freedom. They’re just as simple to live in as the university halls (with a few small exceptions) but offer more independence. There are two catches, however. Because they’re off-campus and third-party owned; they’re usually more expensive and there may be some travelling required to get to your lectures. But naturally, this varies from place to place.
Private housing, as its name suggests, are houses or flats that are owned privately by an outside tenant. You won’t be living alongside any old students this time, you’ll instead be living alone (not recommended) or alongside your friends / trusted house mates.
All of the bills that come with living independently will apply; internet, TV license, utilities and rent to name a few. Unless you’re especially flush with cash, this is why living alone is not recommended – the bills will become unmanageable. Instead you’ll have to organise payment splits with your house mates. As you would expect, this is the option that reflects independent living the most accurately. Only go for this type on your second, third or later year – it’s a lot of responsibility.
So, the choice is yours – I’ve recommended which ones to go for depending on the time spent at university so the rest is all up to you, just how much freedom do you actually want?