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Booking your accommodation

There are many types of accommodation available for university students to choose from. In this article we talk about the 3 most common.
A simple illustration of 2 houses with bicycle in the front garden
© British Council

It’s very important that you feel secure, happy and comfortable in the place where you live. Having the right accommodation has an impact on your physical and psychological well-being, and this clearly has an effect on your studies.

The most popular types of accommodation get booked very far in advance, so our advice is to consider your needs, research the options available to you and book your accommodation as early as possible.

If you’ve accepted an unconditional offer of a place on a degree programme, you should arrange your accommodation immediately.

If you’ve accepted a conditional offer, then you need to consider what the penalties may be if you have to cancel your booking. Normally you’d have to pay a deposit on your accommodation – how much of this will be returned to you if you cancel?

Types of accommodation

There are many types of accommodation available, but these fall into three main categories:

Halls of residence/student housing

This is accommodation which has been built specifically for students. In some cases this is owned and managed by the university, but in other cases it may be owned and managed by a private company. In most cases you’d have your own room with an ensuite bathroom (ie a bathroom for your own use, not shared). Some of this accommodation is self-catered (which means that you’d probably share a kitchen with other students) and some is catered (which means that some, or all of the meals are provided for you). There are usually other facilities, for example a laundry room, a bar, possibly a gym or computer rooms.

Private accommodation

In many university towns or cities there is a wide range of private accommodation available, from a whole house shared by a group of students to a studio apartment for one person. In many cases, private accommodation is in houses or flats which have been converted for use by students. You’d need to negotiate the contract with the landlord (the owner of the property) or a letting agent (who manages the property on behalf of the landlord). If you’re sharing a flat or house with other students, the contractual issues can be complex – for example, some contracts are joint tenancy contracts (one contract with the whole group of students sharing the house or flat), and some are individual tenancy contracts (each students has their own contract with the landlord. Universities usually have lists of letting agents or landlords that they can make available to you, but you have to do all the work of finding something suitable and agreeing the contract.

Host families

In this kind of accommodation you’re a paying “guest” in someone’s home. You have your own room, and you may have your own ensuite bathroom or you may have to share a bathroom with the family. You may agree with the family to have meals with them or to use their kitchen to cook your own food. It may be a good choice if you’re coming to study in the UK for a short period.

What factors do you need to consider when choosing your accommodation?

One obvious factor is cost, but what other factors do you need to take into account?

In the discussion area below:

  • Write about three other factors that are important for you – try to explain as clearly as possible what you mean.

  • Read other learners’ comments and rely to at least one of these – you can either comment on one of the factors that they wrote about, or try to answer (as accurately as possible) their questions.

We’ll summarise the factors you referred to and answer as many of your questions as possible in a post later in the week.

Before you move on to the next Step, don’t forget to mark this Step as complete using the button in the bottom-right corner.

© British Council
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