It is likely that you will choose to live in University halls during your first year of study. Most universities run their own halls, or they will have a partnership with a private halls provider. Once you have accepted your first choice university, you will be sent information about the accommodation available, including the application deadlines.
Which halls you choose is important because it can really impact your enjoyment of your first year of university. Because of this, you should try and make a note of those that you like and those that you don’t, when attending a visit or open day. Usually, you will have to list three halls in order of preference so it is a good idea to really explore all of your options.
if you can’t find a place in University Halls, you could also go into privately run halls. Here the application process is different, you will have to apply directly through the company’s website, but the questions you have to ask when choosing which halls to go for are very similar.
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When making your choice there are a few main things that you really need to decide on.
Self-Catered Vs Catered
All accommodation at university will be either catered or self-catered. Some universities and most private hall providers do not give the option of catered accommodation but many do. Halls that are catered will probably give you breakfast and dinner during the week and all three meals at the weekend.
- The atmosphere tends to be better and it will be easier for you to meet more people because you see them every day in the dining hall.
- Not having to cook can save you time and money.
- If you are self-catered, you have to eat at the same time every day so you might end up missing meals and therefore wasting money.
- You will make a closer bond with your flatmates by eating with them every night.
Shared Rooms Vs Single Rooms
It is not as common as it once was for university students to share rooms. However, many universities still have one or two halls where shared rooms are available.
Shared Rooms Pros:
- Shared rooms are generally far cheaper than the alternative.
- If you are more shy, it is nice to have one person who knows you really well in the first year.
Single Rooms Pros:
- You don’t have your own space to escape to when uni gets too much and you are not guaranteed to get along with your roommate.
En-suite Vs Shared Bathroom
Most universities have a choice between en suite rooms and those that share bathrooms.
- You get your own space and don’t have to queue for showers.
Shared Bathroom Pros:
- En suite rooms tend to cost around 10-20% more than the alternative.
- It is very unlikely that you will have to share it with the opposite sex.
- Shared bathrooms get cleaned once or twice a week as part of the contract, but en suite bathrooms don’t.
Flat Vs Corridor
Most university accommodation is structured in one of two ways. Halls are often split into a number of self contained flats, with 6-10 rooms per flat, organised around a shared kitchen, living area and perhaps bathroom. This format is most commonly used or self-catered accommodation. Some halls are arranged, instead, in long corridors of 10 or 20 rooms, which share a much larger kitchen or kitchenette and perhaps bathroom. This format is often used for catered halls.
- You can form a really close bond with your fellow flatmates.
- Your flat will probably be quieter and people will be more respectful because you know them better.
- If you do not get along with people either side of you, it is much easier to meet other people than if you are living in a flat, as bedrooms are not shut off from each other.
A Few Rules of Thumb:
If you are still unsure about which halls to choose here are few general rules, which help you decide:
- The bigger the hall, the more “fun” it will be but also the more noisy it will be.
- The more expensive the hall, the more likely you are to share with international students or students from private school.
- Halls close to the city centre tend to be home to more international students or mature students.
- Being closer to uni is not always the best option, if there is a ‘studenty’ area a bit further out, this will be more fun because it might have its own bar and other facilities.
- If there are a few different accommodation villages, chose based on location rather than individual hall, because all of the facilities, the bar and the general atmosphere will be the same across all halls in each village.
- If you still feel stuck, look at all the different student forums, this is the best way ti get an idea of what each university is like.
- Once you have applied for your accommodation, you will have to start thinking about what to bring. If you don't know what you will need, check out our article on packing for University.