When you’re looking for accommodation as a student, you’ve got a lot of choices to make: in the first year you have the option of university halls of residence, private halls or simply looking for a house to share with other students.
Halls of residence are a good option: in an unfamiliar town you’re not likely to be able to make the most informed choice about private rented accommodation, and probably won’t have a collection of trusted friends you would want to share with.
That still leaves you with a great deal of choice: Universities have multiple halls of residence available for their students, is various locations and at different prices depending on the size of the rooms and services included. Just concentrating on one town if you look for has options close to the campus in town, and out in the surrounding countryside for a more cloistered student experience. One of the biggest choices you will have to make is whether you will opt for catered accommodation or buy food and cook for yourself during term time.
It can make an appreciable difference to the cost of your room: looking at the available accommodation at it adds around £50 a week to the price of your room. Over the course of a whole academic year – periods of which you may not be using that room – it’s a significant cost.
If your parents are helping to fund your studies, or even just giving you advice to aid your decision making, they may well be in favour of your opting for catered Halls: knowing three meals a day will be ready for you will be reassuring to them, especially if you’ve never lived away from home before.
On the other hand, you need to be sure you will get the value of those meals: if you in time for breakfast, and are busy on campus when your accommodation is serving your dinner, you’re spending additional money for no benefit.
When you’re choosing your accommodation you probably won’t have access to your timetable, but you can use student forums and Facebook to talk with current students and get some information about when your lectures and meetings of societies you want join are likely to fall.
It’s also worth finding out what cooking facilities are on offer in catered accommodation: if you don’t have the option of for yourself if you miss one, you could find yourself in trouble and not able to eat properly simply because you’re busy.
You need to weigh factors like this in the balance before you make your choices: keeping to a tight budget is vital for students, and ensuring you get the most value out of high cost decisions like this one will be the key to your University years.