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How to choose Student Accommodation in the UK

Student Accommodation in the UK

Everything You Need to Know About Student Housing in the UK

In this post I’m going to give you the ultimate guide on how to choose student accommodation in the UK, this advice will also apply if you look into booking accommodation anywhere else in the world but my examples are going to be based on the UK because that’s why I have studied. so if you want to find out how to make the right decision when it comes to student accommodation then keep reading.

Student Accommodation vs Renting Privately

How do you choose the right student accommodation for yourself when there are so many options available? I remember when I was about to move to Nottingham I was so confused about the facilities, the terms, the cost, and so on.

so the first thing you should consider is whether you’re going to go for student accommodation or you’re going to rent privately.

student accommodation is a facility designed specifically for students and students only, it is run for their needs, and it can easily be provided by your university or by a private company.

renting privately is different it’s basically like renting a flat or a room or house in your own country when you move into a new location, also usually in the first year of a bachelor’s degree or when you’re coming to study for a master in the UK a lot of students choose to go for student accommodation because it’s easier, I have done that in my first year of bachelor’s at Nottingham and during my master’s at UCL in London I lived in student accommodation.

University halls vs private halls

when you choose a student accommodation there are two options university halls and private halls.

university halls are provided by the university as I mentioned and they’re usually owned by the university in terms of building and location private halls are provided by an external company it depends on the university but it could be that there are none of the many places available that are going to be provided by university halls so quite often international students go for private halls. I think for master’s students it’s quite limited in terms of how many places are provided by university halls.

Difference between university halls and private halls

there are a few differences between university halls and private halls from my experience and obviously, I haven’t lived in every single hall in the UK but I’ve noticed the university halls are usually less modern and they have less flexibility in terms of which room you can go for.

my experience was such that you apply and you ask for a pacific room in a specific location but the university locates whatever is available, so you might not get the type of hole you want or the type of room you want.

with private halls, they’re usually more options available in terms of privacy, space, and location, and you will know what you booking so you kind of definitely know what kind of room you’re getting.

no matter what you’ll go for student accommodation provided by the university or private student accommodation there are a few things you need to consider when making a choice:


The first one and I think that’s the most important one which is location. why? because location will define a lot of things how much time it takes you to get to lectures, and how much it costs you to get to lectures.

in terms of location, you can live on campus, off campus, near campus, or far away from campus. the campus is university facilities which include lecture buildings, libraries, shops, and maybe a few other specifically designed buildings for the university.

living on campus is super convenient you’re like in a bubble of students but at the same time it’s like living in a small world surrounded by students every single day so some people like to live a bit off campus or live even far away from campus because they want to explore more of the city and also sometimes living far away from campus could be a more cost-efficient option not always, so it is kind of a balance sometimes living farther away, especially in London could mean that the accommodation is cheaper, but at the same time you have to think about the cost of transport so how many times a week will you travel to your university, how much it will cost, are you going to walk, take a bike, take a tube bus, and so on. I do recommend knowing where you have to be at your university and how far you’ll have to travel.

Catered vs Self-catered Student Accommodation

the next thing you need to think about is whether to go for catered or self-catered accommodation. I didn’t know what it meant before coming to the UK to study but catered is basically with food provided, and self-catered is you provide your meals. university halls will have an option to go for catered or self-catered while private accommodation is usually self-catered.

the good thing about catered accommodation is that it is time and cost-efficient, you don’t have to think about planning your meals, how much will cost you already pay in advance, you have to cook shop for ingredients and so on. it is very social, so you’ll share meals with people usually breakfast, lunch and dinner will be in a social setting in a dining hall or some kind of restaurant, but social can also be a disadvantage because you’re tired, you’re always eating around people are not able to eat peacefully while watching Netflix you kind of have to share your meal with people or eat in a room full of people if it’s not the coronavirus pandemic.

another disadvantage is that you’re not that flexible on the time you can eat and the options you can eat.

for many people self-catered is a good option especially when they pick the food or they don’t want to be stuck in a social setting you have the flexibility of what to eat when to eat, and how to eat, you can even use your hands no one is watching but it can be harder to plan your budget because let’s be frank and your students are not very good at managing the time or the budget and you might end up eating instant noodles every day.


The next thing you need to consider is the kitchen you need to be clear on what kitchen facilities are going to be there whether you’re on self-catered or catered accommodation, just be clear or what other facilities you have in terms of preparing food, it could be that it will be a shared kitchen and that’s usually a more cost-efficient option so you’ll share the kitchen with a few people either a corridor or five-six people in one flat and you need to be prepared for that or you can have your own kitchen which is more expensive but quite convenient for someone that likes their own privacy or someone that wants to have a small kind of apartment or studio in the room and they’re not relying on sharing their space or fridge or stove with anyone else. I think it’s quite convenient to have your own kitchen but it’s going to be way more expensive.

if you want to make friends and you want to socialize sharing a kitchen is quite a good option to make new friends and not be stuck in your room all day.

En-suite vs shared bathroom

the next thing you need to consider when choosing student accommodation is having an en suite or a shared bathroom again to follow friends that don’t know what ensuite means. it means having your own bathroom facilities in your room I’m not going to go into the advantages and disadvantages of having your own bathroom or sharing it with someone else.

so when I was a bachelor's student university of Nottingham I had my own shower in my room which was amazing but I had to share a bathroom or toilet with other people in the corridor I don’t remember how many people there were but I was lucky that at least I had my own shower when I was a master student I realized that I probably a bit older now and when my privacy so I had my own tiny bathroom, so a toilet and a convenient shower.

why do people decide to share a bathroom because it’s way more cost-efficient it is way cheaper and also because sometimes the whole of your choice just won’t have a room with a private bathroom but you can check whether your room has a sink sometimes. some rooms in the UK will have a sink so it kind of makes not having your own bathroom a little bit easier.

Type of Room

the next point I wish to discuss when it comes to student accommodation is the type of room you’re going to get, so you can either get a standard room or you can get a studio, what does it mean? a studio is a small flat packed in one room that’s what I had when I was starting my masters I had a very tiny room but it had a bed, a desk, a chair, and a kitchen which was like one part of the wall and my own bathroom it’s basically like a little house within a room that’s called the studio.

there could be big studios, large studios but it means having all facilities just for you very convenient for many reasons, but at the same time it’s more costly and it is quite tiny you kind of packed in a small room and you have to cook near your bed and everything smells like food and there is no space at all at least the type of studio I was renting was not that big.

the next option is having your own room and I think it could be called a single room or double room depending on the size of the bed there are rooms that are different depending on the size and what they’ll include and usually, this whole description is given to you when you book accommodation it’ll tell you how big the room is going to be or what’s included in the room.

Student Accommodation Costs

the final thing that you have to consider when choosing student accommodation in the UK is costs. so why do I talk about costs in the end truly it’s one of the most important things to consider, well because there are so many options in the UK available I believe that with a realistic budget you can always find something suited to your needs.

you probably already know your budget so now you have to figure out how to admit this budget with the priorities that you have and perhaps trade off a few other things that are not that important for you.

for example, if you want to have your own bathroom then you might have to live a bit further from campus so don’t be afraid to compromise I believe that with the right research and dedication and the right accommodation provider you wouldn’t have a problem choosing the right option for you.

in the end, I have a final message for you even if you arrive in the UK and your student accommodation is a disaster, your room is small, it smells bad, the location is horrible, or maybe you just don’t have the right budget for to afford the room of your dreams, don’t worry you don’t know how this adventure will change you, you don’t know what kind of people you’ll meet it might be the best time of your life, so really enjoy the experience because studying in the UK is an amazing opportunity.