One of the big questions that all students face is where to live, be it for their first or any other year. There are two main categories of student accommodation – rent a private house or flat or live in halls of residence. Both have their pros and cons to consider before making a decision.

Halls of residence

Halls of residence or university-managed accommodation do have some easy plus sides – you can easily meet new people who live around you and you don’t have to worry too much about furnishing a house. It is often seen as a great halfway step between living at home and having your own place and this makes it a popular option for first-year students. There is also extra support on offer within the halls that means if you have any problems or concerns, there is always someone around to help.

Some of these plus sides can be negative, depending on your personality and preferences. For example, living around all those other students might not suit you and you might find it a bit overwhelming. And there’s no control over who you share with so you can end up with the nightmare roommate or living in a location that is away from campus and a longer commute. There are also private halls of residence that aren’t controlled by the university but offer a similar setup.

Student getting house keys

Private rented accommodation

The other main option is to go for private rented accommodation, of which there are usually plenty in university towns. You can use the university to connect with companies that specialise in student accommodation, whether you want a budget-friendly option for you and a friend or want to have your own mini-halls by sharing with a group and getting a more luxurious location.

This means you get a lot more control over who you like with, though this can bring its own problems – there’s no one to complain to if your roommate turns into a nightmare when you have all signed the tenancy agreement. You have complete independence over what happens within your home (obviously considering any flatmates of course) and you can find a property that is in an area you like.

The main problem students find when renting a property is managing their bills – there’s the rent, insurance, utility bills and council tax to mention a few. If you have never managed your own money before, then renting may be a trial for you and you will have to deal with some admin, such as your landlord or letting agent. Finally, some locations can be further away from campus so consider the commute.


There’s no right or wrong answer to the question of where to live when at university. It is mostly down to your personality, what suits you best and what you can afford. Sharing with friends can seem a good idea but should be done with some thought as friends don’t always mean great roommates but at least when renting, you have that control. On the other hand, life is easier in halls of residence as there are no extra bills to handle or landlords to deal with.

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