University is scary enough without the worry of securing a place at Student Halls or Student Housing or what to do if you don’t, hanging over your head. After you have received your results, whether you are going to be a first, second or third year, knowing that you have a place to live is the biggest sigh of relief you can have as a new adult.
Student Halls are the accommodation for students living on Campus or accommodation owned by the university off campus. It is where students attending that university or institution can live to be close to everything they need. It is extremely important, and some students will be in more need of a place there than anyone else if they will have a long commute otherwise or are from the other side of the country! Depending on the university, and the limited spaces they have available in their Halls, you may find you won’t necessarily spend all three years of your university life living in Halls on Campus.
With moving into student Halls, your student living costs – rent, utility bills, security and insurance – 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 (Although, there are ways to cut student bills). 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 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.
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, assuming you won’t be living at home during university! 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(ish) to university so that the travel isn’t too much of a pain. 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 at 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 like 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.
There will be housing, rent, living or student support department at your university; different universities may have the department under a different name. If you are unsure then try their website, or just call the main number and tell the staff member on the other side of the line your problem – they’ll know where to direct you. When you do get to the right person, you need to talk to tell them everything about your situation. Whether it is having trouble paying your bills as you are a first year living alone off campus, or forgot to state on your application you were meant to live in Halls. There is always a solution for what your problem may be.
If you are choosing a place to stay while studying, the first port of call is your family and close friends. Someone who has rented or bought a place before, they can give you all the important information and advice. Try and take someone along when looking at a house or apartment to make sure you don’t forget to ask the agent or landlord an important question. You need to make sure that this is perfect for you and will suit your needs.
When choosing suitable candidates, it can be extremely difficult. Of course, your best friend is the first one to make a 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!
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. Be 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.
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!
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