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University Halls vs Private Accommodation: Which is Best?

By Chloe Lane

Updated September 13, 2021 Updated September 13, 2021

In the UK, most first-year students decide to live either in university halls or private student accommodation, with many students opting to move into private housing in second and third year.  

Private student accommodation and university student halls share a lot of similarities. The main difference is that private student accommodation is owned by a private company, rather than by a university. Companies such as Unite, Scape and Student Living offer private student living areas in cities across the UK. 

Private student accommodation often boast modern facilities and enviable luxuries, and for this reason tends to be slightly more expensive than traditional university halls, which have more basic facilities. 

Both types of accommodation are a great way to meet new people, but have differences in the location, cost, social life and length of tenancy.  

To help make your decision easier, TopUniversities will be outlining the pros and cons of these two popular options for university students.   

Location 

location

Non-private student halls are offered directly by universities for students attending that university. For this reason, they’re often closer to university buildings. This can be incredibly convenient when you’re waking up five minutes before your 9am lecture. 

Private student accommodation tends to be based in cities where there are multiple universities, such as LondonLeeds and Manchester. Often located in the city centre, they attract students from universities all over the city, making it a great way to meet people from other universities. The downside is that you might have to travel a bit further to get to your lectures.  

Overall, it’s all about preference. If you’d rather be living in the middle of the city, with all its energy and excitement, private accommodation might be for you. If you’d like to be close to university buildings and campus, you might be better off living in university halls.  

Costs 

costs

Private halls are run for profit and often change a higher price than university student halls. However, for this extra cost, you can expect modern facilities, luxuries such as en-suite bathrooms, private kitchens and a great location in the centre of the city. 

University halls are usually slightly cheaper but can vary greatly in price depending on the types of halls you want and the facilities you request. 

Both types of university accommodation will help you avoid hidden costs as utility bills, contents insurance and communal cleaning are included in the price. 

It’s worth noting that the cost of both private accommodation and university halls varies based on their location. 

For example, at King’s College London, university student halls range from £640 to £1,660 per month. Private student accommodation at Unite Students in London ranges from £708 to £1,596 per month.   

At the University of Leeds, university student halls are a lot cheaper due to the location, ranging from £380 per month to £676 per month. Unite Students charge between £496 to £756 for private student accommodation in Leeds' city centre.  

Social life   social life

Student accommodation is a great way to meet new people, as you’ll usually be living with between four to 12 people. In both accommodation options, you don’t get to choose who you live with. 

However, in university halls you can often request to live in more sociable halls, quiet halls or with other mature students and universities will try hard to meet your request. In private halls, you might also be able to request to live near friends or in quieter halls. It’s worth noting that in either type of accommodation, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your first choice.  

In university student halls, you’ll usually be sharing a kitchen and lounge area, and a bathroom – unless you’ve opted for an en-suite.  

Private accommodation also usually has communal areas, which may include cinema spaces, dining areas and lounges to socialise in. If you’re looking for some privacy, studio apartments may be available with private student accommodation, although these will be more costly.  

Accommodation providers may also host regular events for residents to help students get to know each other and socialise. 

Facilities  facilities

From a grand piano in Nottingham to a surfboard renting service in Bournemouth, private student accommodation can often have unexpected perks. As private student accommodation is often found in brand new or recently renovated buildings, they can come with higher quality facilities than standard student halls. 

However, many university halls offer premium options, which include double beds, superfast Wi-Fi and en-suite bathrooms. You’ll also be able to choose between catered and uncatered, where catered gives you a set amount of money to spend on food on campus.  

In general, student accommodation comes with Wi-Fi and a social area. However, often the facilities in private student accommodation will be of higher quality – with double beds, on-site gyms and superfast Wi-Fi.  

You get what you pay for, and the more expensive halls – both private and non-private – will generally have better facilities.  

How long can you stay? 

stay

While standard university accommodation might give you the option of staying 40 weeks (September to June) or 52 weeks (September to September), private accommodation may have longer terms, meaning you have to pay for the full 52 weeks.  

Read the accommodation's tenancy terms before you make your decision.  

This article was originally published in September 2021 .

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Written by

As Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Chloe creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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