So, you got into university or you’re just thinking about going. There are so many decisions you need to make before you go; what you want to study, where you want to study, where you are going to live. It can be overwhelming to see all the different options and not know which one is best suited to you. I would definitely recommend going and checking out the options in person before committing. Photos can be misleading, and it can be good to get a sense of the place you will be living in for the next year.
University Halls: I will be talking through university halls first as these are usually the most popular for first year students because of their more social nature. There are so many options within the scope of halls; the first thing to decide is whether to go catered or self-catered. I personally went self-catered as it meant that I could eat what I wanted when I wanted and would force me to learn to cook which is such a great life skill to have. However, you may not feel ready to take on this responsibility and so catering may be best for you. I found that having a shared kitchen did make me sociable with the people I lived with as I’d be able to see my flat mates when cooking and would often eat in the kitchen. Next, it’s important to decide how much you are willing to spend on your accommodation and look at options that fit your budget. A shared bathroom is by far cheaper than an en-suite and so it’s important to decide whether you think it is worth it to spend that extra money for that added privacy. I went for a shared bathroom though I did have a sink in my room; this meant simple things like brushing my teeth I could do in room, but I’d have to go down the hall for the bathroom or a shower. I felt this was the right thing for me as I didn’t mind sharing to save that extra money. There was also enough toilets and showers that I never had to wait which was a worry I had. Some universities, like the one I attend, have university halls on and off campus so this is something you should consider. If your university offers different options of location for your halls this is something you need to make a decision about. I loved living on campus as it was convenient, and I felt connected to the university experience. You might feel however, that you need that separation of university and living, so off campus could work better for you and bear in mind some universities don’t offer accommodation on campus. Even after deciding these things there are still options, I would truly recommend going and looking at the option once you have whittled them down based on your needs and budget. For me going and visiting the halls really cemented my decision and, in the end, I loved where I was living and met some amazing people. One thing to remember about university halls is that universities will usually only let you reserve a place in halls before results day if you put them as your firm choice. This means that if you get into your insurance or go through clearing your options may be more limited and you might need to look elsewhere for accommodation.
Private student accommodation: This accommodation is like university halls but owned by private companies rather than in connection with the university. This is something you might want to look into if you want something a bit different or you were unable to get a place in halls. They won’t be on campus which may be better if you want a bit of freedom, there is more choice of where in your university city you will be living. Also, this would mean that not everyone living there will go to your university and so it means you can branch out if you don’t want to limit yourself to just meeting people from your institution. These will be owned by companies who have nationwide halls of residence and so you will be able to easily find out information about the providers and people’s experiences in them online. Some of these will also provide facilities most university halls won’t like gyms in order to entice students to say with them.
House share: This could be option if you want something a bit more homely or can’t get a place in the university halls. This may involve filling a spot in a house with second or third years who have had a housemate drop out, but you may also be able to find a group of first years who are all going into a house. This may be daunting to go into a house with those in upper years who have already solidified their friendship, but I know people who went down this route who met people on their course to be friends with. Do not worry there are ways to make friends that don’t rely on accommodation. Though house shares are usually more of an option for second and third years, they are an option for first years and there are positives to living in a house. You have that feeling of living in a home, there are smaller numbers of you living there and I found mine in second year to be a lot quieter than university halls. If you are thinking about this option, the best bet is speaking to accommodation advisors at your university or checking Facebook.
Now that you know the options, I’d recommend you’d sit down and work out everything you want from your accommodation and how much you are willing to spend. After that, you can research the options available to you to make the best suited choice for you.