The vast majority of first-year university students live in university-provided student accommodation. After first year, most students move into shared houses or flats. There’s a tonne of differences between living in a student house compared to halls; some good, some not so good. We’re going to go through the pros and cons of student houses so you know what to expect!
1. You can choose where you live
You actually get to pick where you live – this is a big one. In student accommodation, you’re offered a bunch of different options and you make the pick based on an array of factors. One of those being location. Some people prefer living on-campus, others prefer being nearer to town. The trouble is, the chances of you getting the accommodation you picked are, depending on your university, often slim. This means you’re regularly stuck living in a completely different place to where you had planned.
One of the unquestionably good things about moving out into a student house is that you and your housemates have the option of choosing a certain area to live in. Depending on whether you want to be near the library, near the shops, or near your lecture halls – it’s entirely up to you! Not only that, you also get to pick the actual house you want to live in, and you have the ability to make sure everything is in order. You’ll have the opportunity to go for multiple house viewings and discuss with the estate agent and landlords to make sure the house is right for you. It’s important to do thorough checks before choosing a house. Make sure you have a read through our Student House Viewing Guide to verify you know exactly what to look for.
2. It’s a lot more chill
Living in a student house is a lot more ‘homely’ compared to halls. I find student accommodation often feels quite artificial – every room is identical, and you’re chucked right in as soon as the last fresher has left, and a new one is sent in as soon as you leave. It’s obviously true to say that student housing is somewhat similar, but overall the experience of living in a house feels a lot more familiar. This comes down to how comfortable your house is, the location and – leading into the next point – who you’re living with!
3. You get to pick who you live with
This might be one of the more significant differences – you get to pick who you live with. In halls, you’re thrown into the mix with a bunch of random people you’ve never even met before. Odds are you’re not going to absolutely love all of them. It’s inevitable you get put with some difficult individuals. Sometimes you luck out and you end up with a perfect combination of people. Other times you might not get so lucky.
The good thing about living in a house is that you get to move in with people you already know and get on with. Despite this, it’s still exceedingly common for people to move into houses with their flat-mates from student accommodation. – Moving into a house can be a stressful time, especially considering you’re expected to start house-hunting so soon. There’s plenty of places to look if you don’t have anyone to live with. Your University’s Facebook page will be filled with various people looking for flat-mates, so keep a look out.
4. You have more of your own space
If your university halls was anything like mine, you had your room, and a kitchen. That was it. One of the major differences between halls and student housing? You actually get a living room… This might sound like a massive exaggeration, but in all honesty, having somewhere other than uncomfortable, broken dining chairs in a grotty student kitchen to sit, eat and socialise in really makes a difference. You might not realise it until you actually experience it. – Aside from the living room, there’s still a lot more space. A lot of the time your student house will have a garden, which is a big advantage over halls, especially on those sunny days that make you really appreciate it. At the end of the day, you’ll still be left with those uncomfortable, broken dining chairs so don’t get too excited…
1. There’s less people around
Student accommodation is great for this. Odds are there’s hundreds of other students in your building, with plenty down your corridor, all sharing the same kitchen. The atmosphere of student halls is definitely something to miss. Student housing tends to be a bit quieter. Obviously this’ll depend on your housemates, but no matter how much you like them, it’s not the same as having an entirely new group of people behind the door next to yours. – The good thing is, your student house will most likely be situated in an area with predominantly student population. So there’ll definitely be capacity for that kind of thing. Again, this will depend on your university, but there’s always other students around.
2. Your house may not be as nice
It’s not that student houses aren’t nice – they often are. The only problem is, as we all know, landlords of student houses are in it for the money. Student houses are a particularly profitable investment, not only because they are HMOs (Houses of Multiple Occupancy) but also because landlords know they’re able to do quick jobs, small renovations, throw in some cheap furniture and call it a day. Despite all this, no matter how poorly managed and maintained the house is, they’ll still manage to make solid returns because we as students often have no other choice. To avoid this, make sure to check for reviews for your student house on Student Angle in the house reviews section to avoid any potential issues before you move in.
This has been the common narrative for years, but admittedly there have been various changes over the years that are making these issues increasingly unlikely. The government has made changes to HMO licensing and legal requirements in attempt to prevent students (and other tenants) from getting the short end of the stick. Despite this, chances are you’ll come across poorly maintained and shabbily furnished student houses during your house-hunting search. Read more about HMO licensing and restrictions here)
3. You have to clean your own kitchen
In halls, you’re probably used to your kitchen gradually accumulating more and more filth, until a university-employed cleaner comes in and cleans it all up. You shouldn’t get used to it though, because once you move out it’s all up to you. This is where we go back to making sure you pick the right housemates. Make sure you know the people you’re planning to live with align with you in terms of cleanliness. A lot of universities also clean the toilets for their students. If this applies to you, then that’s another con you’ll have to get used to when you move out of halls.
4. Bills aren’t included
In halls, the university tends to advertise rent prices with bills included. This isn’t always the case, but most universities use this format. Alternatively, when it comes to student housing, unless specified by the landlord, the price of bills (electricity, WiFi, heating etc.) should always be taken into account on top of the rent price. A lot of the time it will be left up to you to organise your providers, so its a good idea to shop around to determine the best offer you can get.
It might also be useful to get in touch with the previous tenants and ask about their providers. Having a chat with the tenants during your house viewing is always a good way to get important information about a property. If for whatever reason you’re unable to do this, make sure to leave a comment on the review for the house you’re thinking of moving into. That way, the previous tenants will get notified and can get in touch over Student Angle.