It’s about this time of year, you already know which university you want to go to, and they are sending you forms asking where you would like to live. Many universities will guarantee freshers’ a place in a hall of residence and I would strongly recommend you take up the offer as it is a unique experience you are unlikely to ever have again, it also helps you ease into living alone slightly more easily.

Advantages of Halls versus Private accommodation

The advantage of starting out in a hall of residence instead of private accommodation is that you will be placed with people who are also new to the university experience, and if set up correctly you will probably be placed with people of similar interests to you (this does not always occur however!). Halls are a great place to meet and make new friends, and find suitable people to live out in private accommodation with in your second and third years.

In most halls you will not have to worry about bills, the gas, electricity and water will all be paid for and in most cases so will the Internet and telephone bills. Even if you do have to pay extra for Internet and telephone it will be made simple and you will likely only be paying a bit extra to the university rather than having to seek out a company and have it installed yourself.

The 0nly thing you will probably have to sort out yourself is a TV licence in halls.

One of my favourite things about living in halls was you didn’t have to worry about not being in when a parcel arrived, many halls have porters to collect and sign for your post, meaning you don’t have to worry yourself about it!

Private accommodation

Private accommodation is great when you know the place, and know who you want to live with. I would recommend it only to people in their second year or above. As well as getting to chose who you live with, you get a real taste of what living in the outside world is like, having to deal with setting up bills, cooking for yourself, cleaning for yourself and maintaining a property. With private accommodation you have the freedom to chose the cheapest or best utility or service providers, and can even install luxuries such as Sky or Virgin if you wish*. As a fresher choosing private accommodation would mean having to find out where the studenty renting area is, as well as find people to live with, you are less likely to make new friends this way, and the experience is likely to be significantly more stressful.

Catered vs. Self-Catered

Below is a table with the advantages and disadvantages of being catered or self-catered. While I was catered in my first year, many of my friends were self-catered and enjoyed the experience just as much, it is therefore a personal choice as to which option you wish to take. It is a myth that self-catered halls are less social than catered halls because people are “too busy” cooking.

Catered Self Catered
Don’t have to cook for yourself You are going to have to learn to cook at some point! Why not start with other people in the same position as you.
More expensive than self-catered, but usually not by much. Usually a cheaper option
No choice about what food you eat, but you don’t have to worry about shopping, cooking or washing up! You can choose what you want to eat, well you have to choose and you have to do it every day whether you want to or not!
If you miss a meal you are wasting money You will have to do washing up, something your catered friends will not have to do!
Extra free time can be spent doing something else, joining a club, or other exploits. Slightly less free time, but shouldn’t stop you doing things.

There are likely many more advantages and disadvantages to each! The most important thing is that you are going to a university you feel comfortable at, and get placed with people you will get along with, so make sure you are honest on your accommodation application form when they ask you about your interests!


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