Welcome to Part 4 of my University Tips from a Graduate! In this part, I am going to be talking about student accommodation. Most students live in halls of residence in their first year and then move out into rented student houses in subsequent years. There are exceptions to this, for example, international students often stay in halls for their entire degree. Either way, if you are a current or future student, I hope this post will be useful for you!
Choosing your halls of residence
If you decide to live in halls of residence, you will probably be given a choice of several different halls. These are some of the factors to take into account when choosing your halls of residence:
- Location – on or off-campus? Distance from your department?
- Parking availability (if you have a car)
- Catered or self-catered
- Ensuite or shared bathroom
- Single or mixed gender
- How many students sharing a block/corridor
- Single or shared rooms
- How new or recently refurbished the accommodation is
The halls I chose were on campus. They were not the closest halls to my department but I didn’t mind the walk. I was lucky enough that my halls had been refurbished the summer before I moved in, so they looked brand new! I chose catered halls so that I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking. I’m glad I did because it was fun going to the dining hall with my friends.
I really wanted my own bathroom which was a big reason why I chose my halls, as they had ensuite. It was great having an ensuite, but looking back, I don’t think I would have minded sharing a bathroom. Bumping into people on the way to and from the bathroom would have made the experience all the more social.
My halls were mixed gender and there were 22 of us sharing a block, all in single rooms. Some of the other halls had fewer students sharing a block or a corridor. I’m glad that there were lots of people in my block because it meant I met more people and had a higher chance of finding people I’d get on with. We all used to hang out together in the shared kitchens. If you want a social Uni experience, I would definitely recommend choosing halls where lots of students are sharing.
When I applied for halls, I had to list my choice of halls in order of preference. I got in early and sent in my halls application on the first morning that it opened for applications. Because of this, I got my first choice of halls. Some other people who I knew sent in their application late and they ended up in the least desirable halls. So I definitely recommend making a note of when halls applications will open and apply as early as possible!
Finding a student house
In second year, most students move out of halls and into a student house. The main advice I would give to you is to get this sorted early!
In the second term of my first year, my friends and I started discussing our student housing and deciding who we would live with. There was a group of 7 of us in my halls who were all good friends and wanted to stick together, so we divided ourselves into a 4 and a 3. I can’t remember the exact process we used to find our student house, but I know it all went smoothly!
As I talked about in Part 1, my friendship with the two other girls I was living with drifted apart by the end of our second year. So we all decided to live with different people in third year. At first, I was going to be sharing a house with 3 boys. They were good friends, but in the end, I decided I really didn’t want to be the only girl in a house full of boys!
I explained this to them and they were very understanding. They were happy to find a different housemate for third year. By this time, it was already the end of the summer term and I now had nowhere to live in third year!
I spent a stressful first few weeks of the summer holidays searching various sites where people were advertising spare rooms in their student houses. I also applied to join the waiting list for halls of residence in case I could get in there.
After not having much luck, I eventually came across a Facebook page where 4 girls were looking for a housemate to fill a spare room in their house. It looked perfect, so I messaged them to ask if the room was still available, and luckily it was!
I’m so glad that I found those girls because we got on so well and they turned out to be some of my best friends! We had an amazing time living together in third year and we still meet up when we can, even though we live a long way apart. I think it was meant to be!
However, the moral of the story is – get your housing sorted as early as possible to save yourself the stress of not knowing where you are going to live!
Student houses can get cold!
You might be lucky enough to have a warm student house, but many of them are not! The house I lived in during third year only had single glazing on the windows and it was very draughty. I had a thermometer in my room and at one point during the winter the temperature indoors got below 9 degrees!
Be prepared for this by bringing lots of warm clothes and blankets with you, especially in the Autumn and Spring terms. Students often want to save on heating bills by not turning the heating on very often, therefore you cannot rely on the heating for warmth!
One trick I sometimes used was to heat my room with my hairdryer, but this is not the most economical solution as you will get a higher electricity bill instead! Another good option for night time is a hot water bottle, although I didn’t have one myself.
If the cold gets unbearable, the best option is to go to campus and get somewhere warm. As a music student, I had 24-hour access to the practice rooms. Sometimes I would go there and hang out in a practice room with the radiator turned up high, just to get warm! During the daytime and evening, there will be lots of places open on campus including bars, dining halls and the library so you will be able to find somewhere warm to hang out or study.
Student Accommodation: Sorted!
I hope this post has given you an insight into student accommodation and made the process a little easier for you! The main points to take away from it are:
- Get your student housing sorted early, whether it’s halls of residence or a student house.
- Make sure you are happy about who you are moving into a house with.
- Facebook is a good place to find people advertising a spare room, and it means you can ‘stalk’ your potential future housemates and make sure they seem nice.
- It’s not the end of the world if you do fall out with or drift apart from your housemates. You don’t have to spend much time in the house and you can live somewhere else next year.
- Bring lots of warm clothes and blankets with you because student houses can get cold!
Next up: Money Tips
Part 5 will be the final instalment in my University Tips for a Graduate series. For the typical student, money can be tight. In Part 5 I will be talking about how to save money as a student and I will even share some ways to earn a bit of extra cash!
In the meantime, I would love to hear your student accommodation stories. Have you ever lived in halls of residence or a student house? Was it a good or a bad experience, and why? Let me know in the comments!