Heading to university is a uniquely weird experience. On the one hand, you’re excited to move to a new city! On the other hand — you’re terrified to move to a new city.

You can’t wait to live independently! But, you’re also worry about living on your own.

You’re looking forward to finally leaving home — and you’re homesick just thinking about it.

Yes, moving away to university is a strange time. But we can help take the stress out of some of it by asking the crucial question: should you opt for halls or a house share?

Luckily, the Student Accommodation Survey of 2015 has plenty of data for us to explore, with 6,000 students questioned on the matter. 57% of the student questioned were living in halls at the time, so keep in mind that halls accommodation was overrepresented in the survey in this case.

Sharing, on a smaller scale: house share

With halls of residence considered to be something of a rite of passage in university life, a house share might not be at the front of many fresher’s minds. However, with the finer financial details coming into play — saving as many pennies as you can has become vital for prosperous students.

The mentioned survey showed 55% of undergraduates and 60% of postgraduates were quite happy with their shared flat/house in London. But were the expectations for students upheld when they moved into their flat? Well, looking at results from 2012-2014, dissatisfaction increased by 4% for undergraduates and 5% for postgraduates.

The cause of this increase in dissatisfaction stemmed from landlord issues ranging from damp, size, and mould. London’s landlords are notorious for charging extortionate rates for small living spaces, which is probably why ‘people’ came up as a common student complaint, small spaces mean that you might be too close to comfort with people — all of the time.

In terms of rent, four out of ten students were paying under £125 per week, excluding bills. The majority of students from this survey, accounting for 31% said that they paid £126-£150 each week. This was soon followed by 26% that said that they paid £100-£125 each week.

This amount did vary depending on the student group asked. As average rents can increase due to London’s high rents— we found that students from the UK paid an average of £134.08. Students from the European Union found themselves paying £140.43 and non-EU students were paying £150.35.

Sharing with everyone: halls

Many soon-to-be students might fall into the trap of only considering university halls for their accommodation and potentially miss out on cheaper options. Moving into accommodation is all part of the student lifestyle and there are many benefits of this, including the easiness of making friends within the university and that most of them are on campus or close by.

In regard to halls, 55% of undergraduates and 61% of postgraduates were happy with their living arrangements. However, a sharp increase in dissatisfaction showed that 19% of undergraduates were dissatisfied with their accommodation which was 7% increase on results from 2012. It was also found that 15% of postgraduate students were not happy with their chosen halls of residence, which was a 2% increase on 2012.

The data shows that 27% of students noted cost as a key reason for their dissatisfaction; are student halls failing to provide value for money? Common complaints surrounding university halls were related to plumbing, water and heating problems at 25% but it must be made clear that these problems should be fixed by the accommodation itself.

Further problems came in the form of poor room size, unreliable internet, bad cleaning services, pests, flatmates, fire alarm issues, location, and unfriendly staff.

The cost varies depending on whether you opt for catered or self-catered. Using University College London (UCL) 2018/19 accommodation fees as a guideline, a singled catered room would range from £173.88-£180.67. If you wanted to go self-catered, this would be priced around £165.69-£242.62 depending which of course is dependent on building type and location.

Where to live

It’s a big decision that will set up potentially the rest of your year, so be sure to consider all external factors. You also need to consider how you’re going to afford everything — if you’re getting out a student loan, will this cover it? Although this can be a daunting process for new students, it’s something that you must look at confidently. You don’t want to miss out any important necessities — work with the mindset of what your financial situation will be.

There’re a few options available for you for university halls, so pick the one you think will suit you. Alternatively, if you go for a flat share — are you prepared to pay for bills that may not be included in your weekly rent, and put up with the landlords?

Be sure to consider transport links too. University campuses are usually close to the university accommodation — so make sure if you do go for a flat share, you’re close by. If you need to travel in, take a quick look online for bus timetables and deals on monthly tickets. For example, Oxford Tube’s coach Oxford to London has student tickets available on their website.

Finances are important, but don’t let them dictate your whole university life!

While you’re here, here’s a friendly reminder of some essential things you need to take with you when you move out to university:
• Bottle opener.
• Batteries.
• Measuring jug.
• Cutlery.
• Crockery.