A floor plan that shows 10 single bedrooms with 3 bathrooms all lined up along a corridor. At the end of the corridor on the right is a large kitchen and dining area with 2 sofas.
Typical floor plan of student halls at Reading

Home sweet home

Your uni accommodation will become your home away from home, so it’s important to pick one that will suit you. We’ve listed the most common options below.

University halls

Uni halls are blocks of furnished flats and a popular choice among first years. Typically, you’ll be living in a flat with your own private room and a shared kitchen/living room and bathroom (some rooms may offer an en-suite).

Floor plans of 4 different rooms. From left to right 1. A double bedroom with en-suite shower and a large desk that runs along the wall and corner. 2. A large single room with an en-suite and a large desk and wardrobe running against the wall. 3. A large single room with a desk and wardrobe. 4. A small single bed room with a sink in the corner and a desk and wardrobe running along the wall.

From left to right: Examples of some of the rooms available in halls: 1. A catered en-suite double bedroom, 2. Standard en-suite single room, 3. A premium single bedroom and 4. A standard single room.

Student halls can be located in various places. Campus universities will have student halls, teaching spaces, and other university facilities all in one place. Whereas city universities have accommodation and facilities spread across the city itself. To hear a student’s experience about living at university read Alice’s story.

Here are some of the pros and cons of living in halls.

Pros:
- A chance to select your preferred halls of residence
- A great way to meet new people and have a convenient living space.
- It gently eases you in living away from home.   
- Living on campus or in close proximity means you’re close to friends and a short walk to university.
- A range of room types are available at different prices, with catering options.
- Most bills are sorted out for you and shared kitchens and bathrooms are cleaned each week. 
- Transfer options may be available if you’re unhappy with your living arrangement 
Cons:
- No guarantees are given (especially if it's a popular choice) and it’s often not possible to know where you’ll be living until closer to your start date
- You may struggle with finding alone time and you may get easily distracted with socialising.  
- Living with lots of people will mean a lot of noise at different times of the day and night. 
- You'll be assigned a room at random, and often won't find out who you're living with until you turn up on the first day
- Prices can vary and may not be the most cost-effective option. 
- There are strict guidelines to abide by and you’ll need to put up with other people’s mess before the cleaners come in
- You have limited control over decisions made

Private student halls

These student halls are owned by private companies, and they operate in a similar way to university halls, sharing the same pros and cons. These halls are not exclusive to one university, and you’ll often find they cater for students from many universities and colleges. Do your research carefully to see what’s included in the costs – check for any upfront costs, what facilities they provide, and hidden bills. Other things to consider:

Pros: 
- You’ll meet students from other universities, widening your social circle 
- Majority of the halls are conveniently located -- generally in the city centre, 
- Often more luxurious or offer more extras
Cons: 
- With more opportunities to socialise – there are more distractions from your studies
- Tends to be more expensive and may have bigger up-front costs.
- Some of the extras are often unnecessary

Private accommodation

Another popular option is to move into a privately rented house or flat, either sharing with a group of people or on your own. This also acts as a back up for those who miss out on a place in halls, or those who apply late through clearing. The university support services can help match you with other students in similar positions, giving you the opportunity to move in with other first years.

Pros: 
- You have some control with who you live with 
- Lots of options available – location, type of room, type of house, price
- Tends to be cheaper than halls
- You still get to live with other people – just on a smaller scale 
- A more comfortable living space 
- Universities offer support with private accommodation
- Chance to meet a range of people of different ages, backgrounds and occupations 
- You feel part of the local community
- You have the option to be specific with your search 
Cons: 
- If left too late, you may have limited choice 
- It can be stressful viewing lots of houses and rooms
- Responsible for paying house bills
- You have to clean after yourself and share house chores
- You may be restricted with making your space your own
- Private landlords may not be efficient with resolving house issues
- Often tied down for a minimum term, giving you less flexibility to move on if you’re unhappy
- You may feel you’re missing out on social activities in halls
- You may not be able to find a place that can accommodate any special needs

Living at home

Living at home is the most cost-effective arrangement for any student. You keep your support network and you don’t have to deal with the stress of moving.

Pros: 
- It’s either going to be cheap or free
- Surrounded by home comforts
- No need to move house
- Home cooked meals and laundry washed
- Push yourself further to make friends
- Personal belongings are safer 
- Quieter environment with fewer distractions
- No home sickness to deal with
Cons: 
- You may end up paying more on transport as you might be going home on your own
- You may have to travel further to campus or university events.  
- Your university social life may be a little more limited
- You’re not forced to be independent 
- It’s not as easy to make friends
- Living under someone else’s house rules
- Feel you’re missing out on the social activities. 
- You may get sick of home

Are there any other pros or cons you can think of that are relevant to you? In the next Step 2.4, you’ll be asked to list the things that are most important to you, but for now, which living arrangement do you think suits you the most?

Speech bubble that reads: UoR tip

To make an informed decision about your living arrangements, weigh up all the options your uni has to offer, don’t go for the first one if it doesn’t suit your needs.

If you need more information – speak to the uni’s accommodation office. Find out who they are, where they are based on campus and their opening times. These are the people that can help answer your questions when it comes to the practical things about university accommodation.

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This article is from the free online course:

Live Smart: Your Essential Guide to Living at University

University of Reading