Five questions to ask yourself when choosing your halls

Student working in halls room

What you need to consider before signing on the dotted line

When it comes to uni, the halls experience is something that many people look forward to. When you start looking at all the halls on offer, it can feel a bit overwhelming at first - but there are lots of things to consider for your first time living away from home.

To help you make this exciting decision, we’ve put together a few questions you should ask yourself when you’re choosing your halls to help you make the right choice.

1. How much can I afford to spend?

Let’s be real here - adulting is expensive. It’s not just the cost of the actual halls - you should also look at bills (most halls include bills in their rent costs, but it’s worth double checking), parking if you’re taking a car or motorbike and food, which will depend on whether you opt for catered or self-catered halls. Whether you like your little luxuries and creature comforts or you’re happy to go for something more basic, there’s something to suit every budget - and if you don’t mind sharing a room, this can be a great way to secure a spot in nicer halls without spending a fortune.

“Catered halls may be more expensive but that cost is easily worth it considering the amount of food you get.”


2. Where do I want to live?

Living in the halls in the bustling town centre may seem like a great idea at first, but will it be as much fun when you’re lugging your bag halfway across town to your 9am lecture?

If you’re not a morning person, you could save yourself a lot of painful early starts by picking halls close to your department or near a bus stop, or you might want some peace and quiet so you can study undisturbed in a less busy part of campus.

Thinking about this before you apply for halls means you won’t find yourself seething in bed at 4am while Cardi B blares out of the bar next door, or end up taking three buses and a tram to each lecture.

3. Do I want an ensuite?

This is more important than most people think! If you’ve shared a bathroom with your family all your life, you may be totally cool with the morning queue for the shower. But equally, some students take this opportunity to finally get their own bathroom so they get a little more privacy. Obviously ensuite rooms tend to be a little pricier, but for many students, the ability to spread all their products out and not wait in the corridor in a towel every morning is well worth a few extra quid a week.

“Sharing a bathroom is really not that bad, but if you can afford the ensuite there aren't really any downsides.”


4. Who do I want to live with?

The people you live with in halls can have a massive impact on your first year at uni. Some halls get the reputation of being ‘party’ halls, which tends to attract the party animals, whereas others are known for being tamer and quieter. A good way to find out more about previous students’ experiences of their uni’s halls is to look at the TSR forums for your uni, or to do a Facebook search for the halls name to find groups of current students living there.

5. What facilities are nearby?

Are you a gym fanatic, a cinema lover or a total foodie? It can really pay to find out what other facilities are in the area for ultimate convenience. But there’s also the boring stuff too - are you near a supermarket? Does your hall have washing machines, or do you need to find a nearby launderette? What about the health centre? Obviously you can’t live near everything, but choosing which facilities are super important to you will help you narrow down your search.

“In my first year of university, I lived in halls. I enjoyed being a convenient 10-minute walk from the campus, library, and supermarket.”


Not living in halls

Of course, not everyone chooses to stay in halls. If you don’t fancy the halls life, you could look for private accommodation. Most uni housing services will have resources to help you find private accommodation in your area, or you can go it alone via a site like SpareRoom if you have very specific requirements.

How to get the halls you want

Some unis let you apply for specific halls, whereas others ask you for your general requirements and match you to the halls themselves. However, there are a few things you can do to help you get the halls you want...

  • Apply early
    Most halls application deadlines close at least a month before your course starts, and some unis work on a first-come-first-served basis, so if you have a strong preference, don’t delay getting your application in.
  • Decide on dealbreakers
    It’s highly unlikely your halls will tick ALL your boxes, so just focus on the ones that really matter to you for the best chance of getting accommodation you’re happy with.
  • Speak to former students
    There are thousands of students on the TSR forums who will tell you about their experiences in halls, so make sure you find out what other people think before you leap into a decision.
  • Don’t panic if it doesn’t work out as planned
    LOADS of people don’t get the halls they want every year, but in most cases people quickly settle in once they’ve met their new flatmates and got to know the area.
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