A guide to student accommodation | NatWest

A guide to student accommodation

Finding the right student accommodation will depend on your budget, the course you’re studying and even the type of person you are. It's probably the first time you've lived away, but don't worry, your university digs will soon feel like home. Here's our guide to the different kinds of student accommodation and some of their pros and cons to help you find your new home from home.


University halls

University halls (or halls of residence) are one of the most popular types of accommodation for first-year students. They’re a great place to meet new friends as well as often being one of the cheapest options


According to NUS, the average weekly rent for university halls in 2015 - 2016 was £134.23, making them quite a bit cheaper than private accommodation. Another big pull is that utility bills are usually included in your rent, one less thing for you to worry about when you first move away from home.


If you plan on going home outside of term time, then university halls could be ideal because the average contract length is 41 weeks, meaning that you won’t be paying for the time you’re not there. 


You could save money on travel too, because lots of university halls are either on or close to your campus. That said, if your campus isn’t close to the city centre or you don’t have a shop in walking distance, travel costs can soon add up. Make sure you find out where your halls would be and work out how much travelling you’d need to do so you can budget for travel cards or taxi fares.


Some university halls have the option to get catered accommodation. If you’ve not had time to polish up your cooking skills yet, it’s a far more cost-effective option than getting takeaways.


University-owned accommodation will be accredited by one of three schemes: UUK, ANUK or Unipol. This means you’ll get a certain level of safety and quality, so if something isn’t right at your accommodation, your landlord has to do something about it.

Private halls of residence

The average rent at private halls (also known as ‘student villages’) can be slightly higher than university-owned halls, but bills are normally included.


Catering and cleaning aren't usually included, so if you want a bit more independence, but still crave being in that student environment, private halls could be perfect for you. 


Though they shouldn’t be too far away from the university campus, they tend to be bit less convenient location wise than university halls, so you’ll probably need to factor in travelling time and costs. Again, it’s a good idea to work out your route to and from university so you can factor any travel expenses into your budgeting.


The average contract length is 46 weeks, so it’s another good option if you expect to come home for certain periods of the year.

Shared houses and private accommodation

If you know people you want to live with already, you could look at renting a shared house together although it does mean a bit of extra organisation and self-reliance on your part.


You’ll need to take care of everything that goes with living independently including rent & bills, cooking, cleaning and putting the rubbish out. If something isn’t right with your property, like damp or a broken boiler, it’s up to you to make sure your landlord gets on the case. 


The cost of rent and contract length will vary from one place to the next, so make sure you compare plenty of options and find out the cost of travel too. Asking your university for a list of approved landlords and student friendly letting agents is a good place to start.


Choosing a shared house will mean arranging  your own insurance to make sure your belongings are covered – you can find out more in our guide to student insurance.

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