Going to University can be a daunting time, especially if you have never lived on your own before. There can seem like a million options to choose from: do I go into halls? Should I get my own place? Should I stay at home? AHHHHHHH TOO MUCH CHOICE! We are here to help you decide what’s best for you, break down some myths, and give you an insight into what is available.
First off, the myth: “University is going to be so expensive; I won’t even be able to afford anywhere to live.” The reality is that every student is entitled to some type of maintenance loan that they can use to put towards their accommodation throughout their time at University (psst… remember this isn’t like a normal loan that you must pay back during your time at Uni or even straight after).
The amount of loan you get will depend on your personal circumstances – and with that money, you can select the type of accommodation that suits you. The type of accommodation that you choose will determine the price that you pay, whether you are an extrovert, introvert, like staying somewhere familiar, or you want to experience something new – there really is an option for everyone.
Ok, you’ve probably all heard of ‘halls’ before. This is a popular type of accommodation that is provided by the University that you are going to, which may even be on campus (useful for those of you who prefer a lie in!) Each university will have its own type of halls, but most universities have similar choices at an average cost of £140 a week.
Although universities have lots of halls and everyone can apply for a spot, they are limited – so apply early to avoid disappointment. Options usually include:
- The Budget Option A shared house with between 6 and 18 people with a communal kitchen, shower, and toilet facilities. It’s a bit like a hostel, but you will get your own personal room and space to study. This is often the cheapest option and can be great if you’re someone that loves to socialise.
- The Mid-Ranger A shared house with between 4 and 8 people with a communal kitchen but your own en-suite with a toilet and shower facilities. This is often a mid-range option and gives you the chance to socialise but also to have your own space and personal facilities where you can relax and have some ‘me time’.
- The High-Ender A studio where you will have a cooking and washing facility that is yours and yours alone. This is often a bit pricier but will give you a lot more privacy and allow you to socialise at your own pace and may be a little less noisy.
Top tip: There are some halls that offer catered options with meals provided, though this can be quite a bit pricier than self-catering. This may stave off the repetitive nature of beans on toast or pasta, so if you don’t see yourself as a budding Gordon Ramsey or Monica Galetti and your budget can stretch to it, this could be for you.
Halls can sometimes fill up and be more expensive than getting a rented property from a student letting agency. As with halls, there may be many options available to you, such as finding a property for yourself, sharing with a friend(s) (if you know someone that is going to the same university/city), or you can get a house-share with other students at your university. Accommodation that is not linked to the University can have many advantages, such as a more modern house/flat, better facilities, more freedom on where you live (with halls it is dependent on where they already have accommodation) and it can save you some money. If you choose to do this there are plenty of companies that cater specifically for student accommodation in cities (you can look at right move as a quick guide for what is available and select “student accommodation” in the filter), and on top of this, the University can help support you in this process.
Top tip: If you go with a letting agency, check your contract, and see what is included in the price, some have all bills included and some you must pay for things like gas, Wi-Fi etc… this can change a good deal, to a bad one, or make it a great deal – very quickly!
Studying close to where you already live? If so, you don’t have to go into any type of new accommodation. As a student you will have the choice to live where best suits you, and if you would feel more comfortable at home, that’s fine! You will still get some type of maintenance loan so that you can afford to live, socialise, and pay your own way whilst gaining those independent living skills. This may even work out cheaper and you may be able to save some of your maintenance loan; but remember you will get less maintenance loan if you choose to live at home than going into halls or private renting. This may be the option for you if you are unsure about moving in with other people, prefer your own personal space, or you have grown fond of a roast as opposed to a chip butty and bar of chocolate on a Sunday!
Top tip: Make sure that if you choose to stay at home whilst studying you can get to University safely, there is good transport links and that it’s not going to be too long of a journey for you (don’t try and study in Edinburgh and live at home in Derby!)