While it won’t always be like an episode of Fresh Meat, student halls are a great chance for students to meet their classmates and to interact with them. It’s a chance to get acclimated to independent living, not just in the context of student halls, but university life in general.
Most students will spend their first year in student halls, but not every single university can always guarantee it. City universities tend to be the most popular universities, this means that the student accommodation spots tend to go a lot quicker than at smaller universities, so those looking for student halls in bigger cities will need to be quick when applying.
What to buy for student halls
Student halls tend to be fairly threadbare, so you will need to go out and buy yourself some of the basic amenities.
You will want to look into buying things like:
You will need to stock up on a few things, but speak to your university's student accommodation team and see what they already have in the room for you already.
Also, check out our university essentials guide and learn more about what you should be taking with you to university and with other things like how to get WiFi in student halls. Some universities even have a “My student halls” section on their website, which will tell you more as well.
What are student halls like?
Student halls are whatever you make of them.
Student halls are a great place to meet fellow students and to gain independence in any way that you can. The best student halls usually boast a large collection of fellow students already onsite for you to meet and to interact with and to get to know better.
With moving into student Halls, your student living costs – rent, utility bills, security and insurance and other general student bills – are all paid to the university with a loan from the government, and is part of your Student Finance application if you have applied for it.
Others, who are paying themselves may need to pay it upfront similarly to their tuition fees. The one thing handy about this is that you pay the sum, or it is added to your student loans, and everything is included, except for a student TV License. That means internet, electricity, water, all the things you probably will forget, especially if this is your first time living away from home. Do check the small print to see what insurance and security are included in your rent, just to be on the safe side.
You would have first found out about this from when you first applied at University, and on the UCAS application, it would have asked if you were going to be on the campus or living at home for the course. If you accidentally selected ‘at home’ then you need to contact the university to let them know you wish to stay in their residence, you may not be guaranteed a place, but you need to contact them ASAP.
What to do if you don’t get a place in student halls
If you haven’t got a place in student halls, throughout any year of your degree, then you need to look for accommodation close by if the commute proves too troublesome with money or time. The first thing to do is to think about who you want to live with – as renting on your own will be far too expensive now that you are a student.
Ask your closest friends or classmates, they most probably will be in the same boat, so hopefully finding roommates won’t be too difficult! Now that you have found suitable housemates, you need to find a place to live.
Universities sometimes have great agencies that previous students have used before to help you to start, if not then you and your friends need to look around for a place to stay. If you are unsure about what to do when it comes to choosing a place to stay, ask your family for some advice – you’re going to need it.
This very rarely happens for first years, but if it does it means the university did have a surge of students this year and, unfortunately, they don’t have the room for you. Try looking for small flats, studio apartments or the chance to flat-share. You can contact the university and ask if they have a service of helping you find a roommate for your first year, as we doubt you were the only single student they couldn’t fit in.
Most second years will be living off-campus. Universities prefer this as the students have had a whole year previously to get used to university life, paying rent, and meeting people who will turn into suitable housemates for the near future. You should try to find somewhere close to university so that the travel isn’t too much of a pain, for instance, if you are living in Birmingham, you need to look for student halls in Birmingham. The second-year counts towards your degree grade, and you will need to be in decent travelling distance for those study sessions.
Some universities like to give their third years the opportunity to live in Halls as the third year is the most important and difficult. With it being full of dissertations and final project preparation and nerves, the university likes to keep the third years close so they can hibernate in the library to get all those thousands of words down in one document. However, not all universities have room for this so that it may be a first-come, first-served basis, especially if you are living in a city like London, where London student halls go very quickly.
Who to move into student halls with
When choosing suitable candidates, it can be extremely difficult. Of course, your best friend is the first one to make the list, but this decision isn’t to be taken lightly. Are they a slob? Do they come in at all hours in the morning? Would they always be bothering you for free rides in your car? You have to think about whether you will be able to live with them on an adult level, not how much of a great drinking buddy they are.
Also, classmates do have advantages because of extreme study sessions and someone to visit the library with you at ridiculous o’clock in the morning. This will be the hardest thing to decide, and it can be hard to make it work as most people in the second and third years are looking for a place to stay too, and finding housemates can be a problem, to begin with!
Where to move to
Something within a half hour walking distance is preferable. Remember during exam time you don’t want to have to walk a marathon before you sit a test for three hours long. And something right on the doorstep may be pricey. You also need to look in your local area for local supermarkets, towns, bus or train stations, so your life as a whole will be manageable.
Don’t pick a luxurious location outside of town and away from university because it was cheaper by £30 a month or because it had a desirable view. Make sure you are realistic.
Choosing your first proper home away from home and moving into your own place is important and a huge milestone in life, but it is only a temporary solution. Remember, it is no more than three years of your life, and you won’t need to be picking a home to settle down in.
Discuss all this with your housemates-to-be and look around the local area to find the right place for all of you. If you’re living in a seaside town or city, like Southampton or Brighton, you can look for student halls Southampton or student halls Brighton.
Cities can have a variety of good place to live in, but you may need to evaluate the areas before you agree to anything. Check the crime rates, transportation, how far away from the university it is and what the local shops etc are like. If you're living in Manchester, you will have access to a tram car, but are your Manchester student accommodation halls close to meriting the risk?
Student halls in London can be a good choice if you live in London, but given the integrated transport routes of the city, you will be able to live in a different part of the city, if you need to.
Choosing your student accommodation for the next one to three years can be really difficult and stressful. There is support at your university, as well as your family and friends from back home and from your classes. Talk to all of the people you can so you can get somewhere good enough for you and university but is cheap and temporary, and then you can start packing!
What to ask when viewing student halls
There are plenty of questions for students to ask when you are viewing student halls for the first time, but the questions should be kept as relevant as possible.
Ask about the fixtures and fittings, what the bathroom situation is like, how the shared facilities work, is there a cleaning crew, are you expected to do your own washing up etc.
For a breakdown of what to ask when viewing student halls, check out our student accommodation and see what questions you should be asking.