Sorting out housing for second year can definitely be a complicated task, especially as it is so early and you're not sure how things will work out.
I'm looking to go into private halls for my final year, and I'm actually really excited about this. I had a shared house in my second year, and while it was really easy to socialize, it can come with surprises, issues, extra costs, and landlord problems as you've already said.
I think as long as you work hard to put the effort into seeing and making plans with these friends from first year, and are open to meeting new people in the halls, you should be absolutely fine. If it makes more sense for you cost-wise and you are more comfortable with living in halls - go for it! At the end of the day, it is important to make the best decision for you. Don't let anyone guilt you into making a choice that makes you uncomfortable - living in halls doesn't mean you're never going to see them again.
Best of luck,
Third-year Geography with a Year Abroad BA (Hons) Student