When you go to university, you’re going to be making decisions about everything from your degree to your living situation and which society you’re going to join. Where you live at university will affect your experience in many ways, so it’s essential to consider all your housing options.
To make it as easy as possible for you, we’ve made a list of pros and cons for each option to help you make the decision that’s right for you.
Firstly, what are student halls? Student halls are large complexes rented out exclusively to students; they vary in size, shape, and price, but the main thing is that you’ll be renting out a single room – usually with an ensuite – and sharing a kitchen.
Pros of living in Student Halls
- Living with other students – a big part of the university experience is connecting with other students and meeting new people when you’re in your first year. Student halls allow you to meet other people in the same boat as you, and you’ll be able to find your feet together.
- Proximity – life in student halls is centred entirely around the university, so when you stay in student halls, you will usually have easy access to university.
- Inclusive bills – when you’re juggling studying and social life, the last thing you want to be worried about is splitting the electric bills. When you live in student halls, bills are included in the rent.
- Tenancy length – as you’ll be living in a space dedicated to students, the tenancy length will be mindful of that and will usually coincide with the academic year. Meaning that you can move out over Summer and not pay for the weeks that you won’t be there.
Cons of Living in Student Halls
- Noise – everyone you’ll be living with will be a student, which means that there might be a lot of partying and noise. If you have work or are studying, this can sometimes be frustrating.
- Living with strangers – in most instances you won’t be able to decide who you live with so there will be some uncertainty about who you’ll be living with and whether you will get along. However DIGS, and some other providers, allow you to choose your preferences for things like gender or age, which can be really reassuring.
- Staff presence – student accommodation usually has on-site teams to make sure you’re safe and have everything you need. If you’re an independent person, then this might sometimes be frustrating.
House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO)
A House of Multiple Occupancy is a fancy way of saying regular house with multiple tenants. You are all paying a share of the rent/bills. Usually, you will have your own bedroom and then will share the bathroom and living spaces with other students.
Pros of living in a private house
- A taste of real life – HMOs or private renting is a great first step for moving into a private house. By living in a private house during your studies, you’ll already have some experience at what it’s like.
- Quieter space – a HMO will likely be on a residential street, which means that most people will be on a 9-5 schedule from Monday to Friday. They’ll want rest so you probably won’t have 1am flat parties to worry about.
- More space – a private house will probably give you more space and will feel a bit closer to ownership than living in halls.
Cons of living in a private house
- Landlord lottery – with a HMO, you really are playing landlord lottery. Depending on your landlord, it can take a considerable amount of time to fix things like leaks. This means that you can spend large amounts of time feeling uncomfortable in your home.
- Splitting bills – most HMOs will ask you to pay a portion of bills in addition to your weekly rent; this can be annoying when you’re dealing with multiple people. If they miss bills, it might be up to you to chase them or pay their share.
- Lack of student connection – if you live in an HMO then you might live with professionals, not just students. Everyone might be on different schedules, and you’ll have to adapt and be respectful of their shifts and studies.
Living at Home (Commuting)
Over a quarter of students choose to live at home and commute during their time at university. You’ll live with your parents or whoever you’re living with now, so the experience won’t change too much.
Pros of living at home
- No moving in or out – as you’ll be living at home, you won’t need to worry about buying things for your room. You’ll also have less stress at the end of the year when moving out.
- Creature comforts – when you stay at home, you’ll be close to everything that you love and are familiar with, including friends and family. Some people don’t like change and that’s okay!
- No home sickness – one of the most significant downsides of moving is homesickness. By staying at home you don’t need to worry about getting homesick and how that will affect you.
Cons of living at home
- Commute – unless you’re lucky enough to live close to the university, you’ll probably have to deal with a significant commute each day that you have lectures. This means taking on public transport including delays or expensive city-centre parking.
- University experience – university is about much more than getting a degree, it’s about meeting new people and creating memories. University is fantastic for meeting people outside of your usual circle. Expanding your cultural and social knowledge in a way that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. If you’re commuting, then you’re probably going to miss out on nights out and flat parties.
- Student loan – living at homes means that your maintenance loan won’t be as big as if you lived in student halls. So if money is a factor, maybe try moving out.
Regardless of which option you choose, University is a fantastic opportunity to develop yourself both academically and personally. If the option you choose isn’t right for you, there’s always time to try something else for the following year.