Moving away from home for the first time and learning to live independently, while being surrounded by students from a diverse range of backgrounds, nationalities and experiences, is a huge part of university life. Finding accommodation that suits your individual needs and preferences, whether that be in halls of residence or private accommodation, will play a big role in making your university experience as enjoyable and comfortable as possible.
Having the freedom to manage your own living space while socialising with students in the same boat as you can be hugely rewarding, helping you build valuable life skills as well as strong friendships. To help you make an informed decision about the kind of accommodation that would suit you best, we’ve weighed up the typical benefits and challenges of both university halls and private accommodation.
HALLS OF RESIDENCE
The best bits:
- Being able to live in a social environment where you’ll quickly meet new people and build close friendships
- Not having to worry about dealing with landlords and estate agents
- Not having to keep on top of water and electricity bills as these are usually included in your residence fee
- Building a sense of community with other students in halls, such as by cooking and going to events together
- Never being short of someone to talk to if you start to feel homesick
- Having your shared kitchen and bathroom facilities cleaned
- The security of having on-site wardens who are there to help you with any issues you may have while living in halls.
The tricky bits:
- Having to share facilities with people you don’t know, which could be problematic if you’re someone who prefers their own space
- Potential noise – with the number of students living and socialising in one building, it’s likely to get quite noisy at times and, while there will always be someone on hand to talk to if things are getting out of hand, you may find this disturbing
- The need to be mindful of University regulations, such as those regarding decorating your room and inviting large numbers of friends over or hosting parties
- There’s no guarantee that the students you live in halls with will have the same routines and behaviours as you – they may be very neat, very messy, or somewhere in between – and you may have to compromise on your standards when it comes to shared living spaces and facilities.
The best bits:
- You’ll get a real sense of independence when living in private accommodation. You’ll be responsible for managing your utility bills as well as your rent, and you’ll have to liaise with your landlord to ensure you’re both happy with your living arrangements
- If you choose to rent private accommodation with a few other students, it’s likely that you’ll form very close friendships and you’ll be able to support each other through the challenges of managing your own accommodation – such as the cleaning, maintenance, bills, cooking and security
- You may have more space in private accommodation with living areas being shared between fewer people, so you’ll have more space to work, relax and socialise
- You’ll still be able to get in touch with your university’s accommodation team if you need any guidance or support with accommodation issues, such as disputes with housemates or landlords
- Unlike in halls, you’ll be more in control of the level of noise and activity going on around you so you may find private accommodation more suitable for studying, or more comfortable if you’re someone who enjoys a little peace and quiet.
The tricky bits:
- Managing your utility bills along with your rent can be taxing, especially if you’ve not had to do it before. You’ll need to consider things like a TV licence, Internet connection and gas or electricity – and keep on top of the payments
- You may miss out on some of the action and social events that take place in halls – such as spontaneous nights out, games or film nights. But that’s not to say you can’t do the same in private accommodation – you just won’t be surrounded by a large number of students
- You’ll need to be diligent about the security of your belongings and trust your other housemates to do so also, as it’s more likely there will be occasions when the flat or house is left unoccupied.
As you can see, both halls and private accommodation have their perks and pitfalls – so it’s up to you to work out which would suit your lifestyle and personality best. You can find out all about the accommodation that we offer at UCA, as well as the support we offer to students seeking private accommodation, here.
If you’re unsure what to expect from university-provided accommodation, come along to one of our Open Days where you’ll be guided round our halls of residence by our friendly Student Ambassadors – and you can ask them any questions you may have.