Student Accommodation Options | Top Universities

Student Accommodation Options

By Piotr Łuczak

Updated March 5, 2016 Updated March 5, 2016

Going to university is most students' first taste of living away from home, so making sure you find the right kind of accommodation is very important. Our guide will help you on your way...

There are so many types of student accommodation to choose from that finding the right one depends on you. Often the main choice is either living on campus in halls of residence or renting privately from a landlord. Halls of residence are usually offered to first-year students as a priority, though in some cases you may be able to stay in university-owned accommodation throughout your studies.

University accommodation

Living on campus does offer a few advantages. You don't have to go house-hunting; rent is all-inclusive; you don't have to worry about bills or cleaners; it's easy to make friends with fellow students and it can be good value for money, which means you can save for the important things - like socialising.

Some halls of residence sleep hundreds of students, each with their own bedroom but sharing communal bathrooms. These halls may also have bars and cafes. Other complexes are made up of small self-catering flats.

However, regardless of the type of accommodation you choose it's important to apply early, and do your research. Visit the university website, read information published by support services and student unions, and contact the university directly if you still have questions.

Sabarinath Kumar lived on campus during his first year at Birmingham University. He recommends students should try and apply for housing that is close to the university buildings they'll use most often. "Some universities also have separate campuses for different classes so check out where your classes are going to be and apply for accommodation accordingly."

Private accommodation

After the first year, students are not always guaranteed student housing on campus so renting privately is usually the obvious step. For most students the main options are to rent a flat or house with friends, join an existing house/flat share, or rent a single room.

Once you find a suitable place to rent you need to pay a deposit. This will be used by the landlord to cover any damage or missed payments - but is usually returned at the end of the tenancy.

Always get a written receipt for money paid to the letting agents or landlords, and ask them for an inventory of the contents in the house and their condition at the time you move in. 

Before moving into a house, landlords will often ask for a guarantor. This is someone who will agree to cover costs if you don't pay the rent or cause damage to the property, usually a parent or guardian.

Tenants have to sign a contract, also known as a tenancy agreement. Before you sign the document read it carefully. Remember that if your break the terms of your agreement, the landlord can kick you out.

If you run into difficulties, seek advice from the university, which will usually have accommodation advisors available.

Set expectations

After living on campus for his first year, Sabarinath chose to rent a flat in his second year. His experiences have taught him to be careful.

"Flatmates might be fun to hang out with and go clubbing, but they could also be the ones who leave the house in a complete mess and have absolutely no regard for the house and your belongings. Set expectations with your housemates as to what you expect of each other before you even go looking for a house."

As for landlords, make sure they are reputable and remember to negotiate before you move in, as it's easier and they are likely to listen to any requests you may have of the property.

If you're arranging to rent somewhere abroad, it's best if you can wait until you get there before signing any contracts or placing a deposit.

Other options that may be available include societies such as fraternities and sororities (popular in the US and Canada) and schemes which arrange for international students to stay with a local family.

This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in March 2016

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