15 things students wish they'd known about moving into halls

Student sitting in room in halls

How to be ready for the big move

For most people, the idea of moving into halls is equal parts exciting and terrifying. But knowing what you’re getting yourself into makes it so much easier - so we’ve found some of the best tips from students who have done it all before to make moving out of your parents’ house and into halls a breeze.

1. Leave your door open

On moving in day, everyone will be busy getting themselves settled - but leaving your door open means that your new flatmates can pop their head in to say hi. Those first couple of days are crucial, so make sure there are plenty of opportunities to casually bump into your new flatmates and introduce yourself.

When you know people are coming, perhaps go into the kitchen, busy yourself with putting things away in the kitchen so that when your flatmates can see you and greet you.


2. Set a budget early on

Not gonna lie - Freshers’ Week can get EXPENSIVE with all those tickets and all that drinking… but once the craziness of your first week has died down, spend an hour or so crunching some numbers. Yes, it’s boring, but you’ll be SO glad you did it when you’re not trying to stretch 11p to buy an entire week’s shopping one month into term.

Don’t go crazy as soon as the loan drops (assuming you’re getting a loan). Plan how much you’ll be spending on things like food every week.


3. Check if you need a TV licence

Loads of people don’t bother taking a TV to halls, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t need a TV licence. Check out this article to find out if you need one or not so you can binge on the latest season of Love Island or Orange is the New Black without a care in the world.

If/when you move into a house in your second year or beyond it's worth checking if a TV licence is included in the rent or getting one and sharing the cost as you'll have a TV then, but for [first] year just use your device's battery.


4. Meal planning can save you serious dosh on your dishes

Cooking for yourself full-time can be a bit daunting at first, and it’s tempting to order pizza or eat pesto pasta every night. But planning your meals and heading to a discount supermarket to bulk buy ingredients will save you time and money - and with a bit of luck, you’ll swerve the scurvy and eat a few vegetables from time to time.

Aldi and Lidl are cheap and every supermarket has a ‘reduced food aisle’ where you can get some bargains.


5. Check out Facebook groups for your new flatmates

Searching ‘uni name + halls name + year’ on Facebook often brings up a Facebook group of other people who will be moving into your halls so you can get chatting to people before you move in. Anything to help you cut out a few of those awkward ‘Which A-levels did you do?’ conversations is a bonus.

You'll feel way less anxious on your first night/at your first lecture if you can face it with someone you've spoken to before.


6. Buy earplugs

Halls are LOUD. Even deep sleepers can struggle when their neighbour starts an impromptu drunken karaoke sesh at 4am. Grab yourself some earplugs and block out whatever the hell Sam next door is doing with their mysterious late-night visitor...

I had them for Freshers’ week and they are a godsend!


7. Make it feel homely

The little touches can make all the difference. Become a crazy plant lady, chuck a cushion on your bed or hang up some fairy lights to make your room feel cosier and more inviting.

A lamp and my favourite framed photographs were my essentials. Halls can look very bare and clinical so you'll feel happier if it's more comfortable for you.


8. Create a flat WhatsApp group

Once everyone’s moved in, swap numbers and set up a flat WhatsApp group. This can be used for practical stuff, social stuff and getting to know each other - just try not to send too many drunken voice notes!

We had a WhatsApp chat within our flat in order to sort out our kitchen cleaning duties and other matters (e.g. buying bin liners, going out together etc).


9. Sort your kitchen cupboard staples

For all those CBA days (and there will be plenty), make sure you always have things like pasta, sauce, baked beans, tinned vegetables, cereal and tuna in the cupboard. You can even freeze things like bread and cheese so you always have easy dinners on hand.

The number of times I couldn't be bothered to go to the shop when I had no food, and I was just able to cook up some pasta and beans or something similar... It literally saved me!


10. Try not to sweat the small stuff

At some point, someone WILL steal the last of your milk, leave a clump of hair in the shower or come in screaming a few hours before you have to get up for an early lecture. Yeah, it’s annoying, but the more you can take it in your stride, the easier your halls experience will be.

It happens, and will always happen in communal living, but I wish I knew how to deal with it better before I went to university.


11. There’s more to take than just plates and cutlery

Everyone arrives with identical IKEA plates, woks, cutlery sets and mugs, but there are loads of other useful things that everyone always forgets. Add things like batteries, extension leads, Tupperware, a basic first aid kit and flip flops (for shower trips!) to your pre-uni shopping list to be super prepared.

Some items you don't think of like a doorstop really come in handy.


12. Everyone is looking for friends

In halls, people are fully expecting you to approach them, so even if you feel self conscious, plaster on your friendliest smile and go have a chat with absolutely everyone. Other people will be seriously grateful if you make the first move.

Freshers week is the only time you can randomly go up to someone and be all "hi, let's be friends!". Everyone will be wanting to make friends so it'll be super easy to meet someone you click with.


13. Shop with your flatmates to save money

Avoid cutting off the blood supply to your fingers when you try to carry eight bags back from the supermarket every week by doing one big online shop with your flatmates. You can split the delivery cost and take advantage of multi-buy offers - win win!

If you are living in halls and don't have a car, use online shopping and get it delivered. Delivery costs like £1 extra and it's so much easier.


14. Don’t panic if you don’t instantly click with anyone

Loads of people worry that it’s game over if they’re not besties with their flatmates within the first few weeks, but there will be LOADS of opportunities to bond. Join societies, go to events and get chatting to people in the laundry room or at the vending machine - it’s all about putting yourself out there.

I loved being at uni, but the first year was pretty lonely for me. All good in the second and third years though.


15. You really will be OK living on your own!

Moving out of your parents’ house for the first time can feel scary as hell, and you might worry that you’ll just survive off toast, vodka and unwashed sheets for a year. But EVERYONE is in the same boat, and thousands of students survive halls every year, so embrace the independence and throw yourself into the experience to have an awesome first year.

I worried so much about it before I left, but once I got into the weekly routine I didn't have time to worry about it and ended up enjoying it.


If you have any burning questions about living in halls, be sure to check out the accommodation TSR forum for answers and handy advice.

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