To help you make the right choice, we’ve put together some info on the different types of accommodation you might want to consider, and their pros and cons.
You can also use our accommodation search tool to explore both uni-owned and private options.
Halls of residence
Halls of residence are owned by your uni and they’re mostly reserved for first year students. They’re usually closer to campus and can be cheaper than other types of accommodation.
You'll need to apply for a place in halls of residence through the uni accommodation office, and you can usually do this online. You’ll apply for a few different halls and rate them in your preference order, but bear in mind they are popular, so you may not get your first choice. Check the uni website for details on how and when to apply.
- Uni halls are very social, and it’s a good chance to make lots of new friends.
- Halls are great if it’s your first time living away from home. You usually get water and electricity bills included.
- Halls are the most popular option, so you might not be put in your first choice.
- You’ll be living with lots of people you don’t know, which can be challenging if you’re not used to it.
Things to think about when choosing your halls
To understand what options are available, the best place to start is the uni website. But here are our key things to look out for.
- Cost: Prices will vary depending on the location and what’s included. See what options will suit your budget. You usually get electricity and water bills, but you’ll still need to pay for things like a TV licence and insurance, so make sure you factor those in.
- The right fit: Check the uni accommodation website to see what each option looks like and what they offer. Some might be catered, for example, or have shared bathrooms. It’s about what’s going to suit your needs best. Understanding what’s included will also help you know what to take with you.
- Location: Depending on which uni you’re going to, you’ll need to think about the location of your accommodation. For example, is there a halls option on your campus and if not, how will you travel to uni and how much will it cost?
- Read the small print: Make sure you know what you can and can’t take with you. For example, some halls have restrictions on taking cars.
Remember: You aren’t guaranteed a place in your first choice, so when you’re selecting your options, make sure you’d be happy to live in any of them and scope out what your day-to-day life would look like in each one.
Private halls of residence
Private halls are like normal halls of residence but aren't owned by the uni. They're usually part of a UK-wide chain of purpose-built student accommodation. Sometimes this means you could be living with students who don't go to the same uni as you. They also sometimes have other options like studio flats available, although they’re more expensive.
If you're not interested in going into halls of residence, or you haven’t managed to get a place, you could choose to rent a house or flat, either by yourself or with other students.
This is common for second and third year students, but you can ask your accommodation office or students' union to see if there are other first years looking for private rented accommodation too. This might also suit you if you’re a mature student.
- You can choose exactly who you live with and you're in control of your independence.
- You can explore more options – from flats and houses, to studio apartments.
- It can be harder to make friends. You don’t naturally meet as many people as you would in halls of residence.
- You’ll need to organise more bills yourself and you’ll have to liaise directly with the landlord.
Things to think about when considering shared housing
Here are some top tips if you’re looking for shared, rented accommodation.
- Cost: On top of any rent, you’ll need to budget for your essential bills like electricity, water, and WiFi. You’ll need to manage your budget well, which can be tricky if you’re not used to living away from home. You also need to pay a deposit for rented accommodation, so make sure you factor that into your costs.
- The right fit: One of the pros of living in shared accommodation is you can choose who you live with. Make sure you know who you’ll be living with beforehand. It’s a good idea to visit the property before signing any contracts or paying a deposit to make sure you know what you’re paying for and that it’s a good fit for you.
- Location: One of the perks of shared accommodation is you can choose the exact location of where you live, so you could pick somewhere right in the centre of the local town or city, or somewhere close to campus. Think about how you’ll get to uni each day and what’s in the local area before signing any paperwork.
- Read the small print: Make sure you understand exactly what you’re signing up for when renting, how long your contract is for, and that your deposit is secured in a deposit protection scheme. Read more about how to keep your wits about you when renting.