When you decide to go to university, you will be faced with several accommodation options, with two of the most popular being uni halls and private housing. The accommodation you choose will have a big impact on your student experience and you must choose the best option based on your lifestyle and budget.

Uni halls

Most first-year students stay in university halls. Student halls are usually based on-campus and managed by the university. They typically consist of large blocks of flats, with individually furnished bedrooms and a shared kitchen and lounge area. In some cases, bathrooms are also shared, although en-suite rooms are usually available at an extra cost.

Pros

  • Convenient location – Most student halls are located on-campus which means you can walk to classes and won’t need to worry about driving or catching public transport. You will also be close to all the fun activities and events put on for freshers and students.
  • Social scene – When you stay in uni halls, you will be surrounded by hundreds of other students and can make new friends easily.
  • All-inclusive – Most uni halls are all-inclusive. This means all your utility bills (gas, electricity, water, internet, etc) will be included in the cost of the rent. Many students find this more convenient, especially if they haven’t lived on their own or paid bills before.
  • Safety – Student halls are generally considered to be safer than private rented accommodation. You will also have the support of your uni whenever you need it.

Cons

  • Random housemates – When you stay in uni halls, you don’t usually have the option to choose your housemates and you most likely won’t meet them until you move in. This means there is a risk that you won’t get on.
  • Price Inclusive or not Inclusive?Inclusive bills favour convenience over costs. The downside of all-inclusive accommodation is that it’s usually more expensive. You’re essentially paying more for the convenience of having all your utilities included in the rent.
  • No guarantees – There is no guarantee that you will get a place in your preferred room or student halls. Not all universities guarantee a place in halls for all first-year students, so it’s advisable to check this when you attend open days and make your applications.
  • Noise & mess – Student halls are packed full of hundreds of students, which means they can be messy and noisy places.

Private housing

Some students choose to avoid halls and move straight into a private rented property. You can rent a flat, apartment, or house and split the cost with a group of other students. Some students prefer private housing, whereas others may be forced to choose this option because they were unable to get a place in student halls.

You may also be unable to book uni halls if you went through Clearing or applied for your accommodation late. Take a look at this article by TheUniGuide for advice on finding last-minute uni accommodation.

Pros

  • Independence – You will have more control over where you live and who you live with. You can choose to live with your friends and find properties in popular areas of the city that cater to students.
  • Price – Private housing is often cheaper than student halls and you should have lots of different housing options that suit your budget.

Cons

  • Budgeting – Budgeting your student loan is more difficult when you live in private housing as you will need to pay multiple utility bills throughout the year. Whereas uni halls are often all-inclusive so you have one bill that covers all your living costs.
  • Safety – Student houses are often targeted by criminals and private houses have a higher risk of break-ins when compared to uni halls. It is vital you and your housemates take all necessary measures to keep your uni house safe from burglars.

Verdict: Which is best?

Choosing your university accommodation is not always easy. Uni halls are generally more suited to first-year students and offer convenience, safety, and a lively social scene. Whereas private housing can be more affordable and gives students greater flexibility over where they live and who they live with.

You need to weigh up the pros and cons of each option and choose the best student accommodation for you. Speak to previous students or your university’s student support team if you want advice when choosing your student accommodation.