A big aspect of studying at university is your student accommodation, from student accommodation to commuting at home, there are many options for students while they study for a degree. If you’re feeling unsure of where you should live while at university, read about the different places you can stay during your time studying and how they will benefit you.
Student halls of residence are accommodation buildings that are owned or run by the institution themselves. Certain universities have halls on their campus, while others have their buildings off-site – or even both. Universities based in cities usually have their halls off of campus due to their limited space, however, in most cases, they’re still relatively close.
Student halls are only lived in by students of the university which is an advantage for most individuals to be settled nearby people who are living a similar student life to their own, from late nights, sleeping in and dorm parties. Another advantage is that they are either on campus or very much close to it, meaning life is made a lot easier for students who choose to roll out of bed and into a lecture; a long commute is never an option.
Most universities try to allocate a dorm room to their first years; it is only in rare cases where there isn’t a space for a first-year student. If this is the case the university can help students find temporary or safe accommodation. Certain institutions also offer third or last year students a place in halls as they understand this is one of the hardest years of the degree with dissertation and final project deadlines, however, it depends on the institution. Most universities and colleges prefer students to find their own means of living arrangements during their second year.
Halls are great for first-year students as it gives them a sense of protection, safety and security during a year full of change and new experiences. Staying in halls allows undergraduates to become used to their new lifestyle and feel comfortable during their time away from home, as feelings of homesickness can settle in very quickly.
The other option which is widely used at university is to privately rent a house for student accommodation, apartment or flat during the second or third year. The majority of students live with other students to help reduce the rent and to also seek the feeling of security and social interaction. Universities usually have a list of trusted and safe estate agents or private landlords which students use over and over.
When looking for accommodation outside of halls, always take someone else with you, and if you’re able, somebody from your family or friends circle. This way, they will look at the property with a different perspective and can ask questions that may slip your mind. Once you move in, take pictures of the entire house, including the front and back gardens so that you have proof of the state of the property before your time there.
If any problems occur during your stay, you should keep a log of communication with your landlord and report any issues straight away – don’t leave them to slowly get worse. If you are having problems talking with your landlord, or not enjoying your stay, talk about the situation with your flatmates or you can visit your accommodation office at the university for advice.
Choose a property that is a short distance from the university if you can, to help your budget and to shorten the length of your commute.
If you’re able to financially, and emotionally, then living alone can also be a good option. If you’re quite an independent person and prefer to live on your own, don’t feel obliged to have to live 4 or 5 other housemates. The advantages to living alone are that you have your own space and won’t have to rely on others during your stay. A downside is that you might feel lonely from time to time or a lack of security. Ensure you choose a flat or apartment which is in a safe area and have friends, family or other students that live nearby in case of emergencies or if you fancy being social.
Again, always log your communication with the landlord and seek any advice from your university if any problems do occur. Most accommodation near universities is designed for a group of students to live, to help with costs and to house all of the thousands of students that attend the institution, therefore, finding a place to live for one person may be problematic, and you could end up living further from campus than your classmates.
Another option which is used by many students is to choose to live at home and commute to university. Obviously, the main issue with this type of accommodation is how far you live from campus and how long it will take you to get there. If you live in the same city or town, or able to commute easily there and back then this is a good decision. Living at home during university holds the advantages of not having to move far away from your current life and even have your mum continue to do your washing!
Moving away from home can feel really scary, and even though living at home can seem the perfect choice for most students you need to ensure its right for you. If you have to travel for more than 2 hours a day to get to the university via public transport or driving, then this isn’t ideal. If you had to rush to university to hand in a deadline that had been moved forward or to return a library book to avoid a fine, then this will only be a problem – not a blessing.
Rent options throughout the different housing alternatives differ, most universities have their students may choose their rent for the year or term in one go – usually, once your student loans come through. Private landlords are different, though, and some require a high-security deposit or rent in advance for their own security as renting to students can be problematic for them! However, living at home may seem a cheaper option for most, the commute will be more expensive than living at university, make sure you know how far away from your university, you are with a city guide of some kind.
If you’re choosing to live near halls in shared housing during your time studying, choosing who to live with at university is a tough decision and so is what to do with finding accommodation after Clearing, and you don’t want to be left asking what to do if you don’t get into university halls. The majority of students decide to live with their friends first, and although it seems wonderful, it can be trouble too. Becoming friends with a person is a lot different than living with them, and each individual has their own habits and how they like their surroundings to be. Your best friend could end up being a slob, or a complete clean freak and your personality may clash.
If you end up going through Clearing or Adjustment and find that you are attending a different university, you will have to speak to them about your accommodation issues to ensure you have somewhere to live when you start the next term. As you are being offered a place later than most applicants your situation may differ, however, universities know how to act during this situation! If you have chosen to live in halls, or at home but changed your mind speak with your university or the accommodation office for more information. Furthermore, if you have chosen to live with a group of students via a private landlord but change your mind, this can be difficult to alter, generally due to security deposits and rent arrangements. If you do change your mind, then you need to speak to your potential housemates as soon as possible in case they need to find a new tenant, or speak to their landlord right away. A change of heart at the last minute can’t always be done, and you may have to live where you arranged regardless, but it can also affect relationships in the future, especially if you and your friends got into different universities. Make sure you know everything that there is to know about accommodation.
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