University life equals shared accommodation. But what's the best option for you: life in the halls or a student house?
Halls are usually a great place to socialise and make lots of new friends; the best ones have their own bars and common rooms. The bills are included in the fees, so it’s easier to budget during the term, and you get cleaners who come in regularly to keep the place above the dysentery line.
Halls can be noisy if you need to actually do some studying, and if you’re used to looking after yourself you may find the rules and regulations a bit nanny-ish or patronising.
You can choose to live with people you know and like (even if you do fall out later after discovering their disgusting eating/drinking/hygiene habits). You get to do pretty much as you please, with no stroppy wardens or parents to burst in and tell you off.
You have to do all your own cooking and cleaning and pay all your bills on time. And traditionally, student houses used to be owned by dodgy landlords who didn’t look after their properties; hence they were often run-down and filthy. However, changes in the law mean things are improving – certainly when it comes to safety. Nevertheless, pick your dwelling carefully; lookout for mice and damp, and avoid gloomy houses with no central heating.
Things to check:
It’s really important you check the contract between you and the landlord, the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement, before you sign it. Check:
- What notice period is required if you want to leave
- If you’re responsible for just your part of the rent, or all house mates are collectively responsible for the lot – this is the case if you have a joint tenancy. This is important as if one person decides to leave you don’t want to find yourself making up the financial shortfall.
- What does the contract say about summer holidays – will you still have to pay rent if you’re not there?
- On what grounds the landlord can hold back some – or even all – of your deposit. If you were not responsible for the damage, will you still have to pay for it?
Somewhere between halls of residence and student houses lies a student village. While you get the cheaper rent (bills included) of halls, you also get a little more independence and privacy. You can opt to live in quiet areas of the student village if you prefer, or stay in the party zone.
This accommodation is self-catering, so whilst you can eat when you want, you have to go to the supermarket and cook yourself! Student villages can also be quite a trek from campus, and watch out for those with no cash points for miles – though these days most are serviced with plenty of amenities.
- Shelter's advice website for young people offers help with housing problems and a free helpline 0808 800 4444. If you're in Scotland, use http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/ instead.
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Updated on 29-Sep-2015
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