Halls vs private housing: how to choose

18 Jun 2021
By Hazel M., Freelance writer, journalist and total bookworm at Unite Students
Deciding where to live when you start university can be overwhelming and the options are sometimes endless. Is it better to live in halls, or is private housing the way forward?

As you’d expect, there are pros and cons to each; which is why I’ve broken them down right here, so you can have a better idea of what to expect.

Living in halls

Living in halls can be an incredible experience for a number of reasons (and we promise we’re not being totally biased).

From getting the chance to meet people who are all there for the same reason you are, to not having to worry about arguing over bills with your new flatmates, there are numerous benefits to taking this accommodation route.

And while it can be more expensive than private housing, that’s usually because you’re getting more for your money. From a private bathroom to 24/7 support and security as and when you need it, it’s perfect for taking those first steps away from home.

The pros:

  • Bills are always included
  • Support is on hand 24/7
  • You will have more legal protection
  • Private bathroom
  • Usually very close to campus
  • Residents in your building are all there for the same reason – a great place to meet people!

The cons:

  • It can be more expensive
  • You don’t always get to pick who you live with (here at Unite, though, you can pick – click here for more information about booking with friends)

Living in private housing

Now, that’s not to say there aren’t some pros to living in private housing, either.

Whether you’re on a super tight budget or you’re looking for somewhere that is a little more ‘homey’, private housing could be the way to go. For example, while communal areas in halls aren’t like your standard sitting room, private housing might offer a more ‘home like’ experience.

You’ll also have more options on where to live – but be wary that a quiet residential area probably isn’t going to be particularly welcoming if you like to host pre-drinks at your place.

Don’t forget to consider that, while this may initially seem like the cheaper option, added bills can make things more costly (and you may have to brace yourself for arguments if you live with those who struggle to pay bills on time).

The pros:

  • There may be more options on where you can live
  • Communal areas may feel more homely (particularly if you’re living in a house)
  • More options to suit different budgets
  • Live with who you want

The cons:

  • Bills are not usually included
  • You may not be as legally protected
  • Not all furniture may not be included
  • Finding a property could be costly (for example, letting agent commissions or fees)
  • You may have to share one bathroom with all of your housemates
  • Not always near campus

The verdict

Ultimately, deciding about where to live is about doing what’s right for you. If you’re a private person who enjoys having their own bathroom and will feel safer with 24/7 security, moving into halls is probably more your style. It’s also a great option if you’re keen to make new friends.

However, if you’re looking for something that is in a particular location (for example, closer to work and not necessarily near campus), and fits to a tight budget, private housing might be the way forward.

Either way, if you’re still unsure, try and talk to people who have lived in both and weigh up your options carefully. Your university experience is unique to you, so make it count!

If you need any support or would like to check out Unite Students’ accommodation in your city, click here.

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When not stringing words together, can usually be found on the local beach with her cocker spaniel pup, Huey.