What is student accommodation like at uni?

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Where should you live at uni? What's it like sharing a kitchen? Find out here

When you’re preparing to go to uni, one of your biggest concerns will probably be what student accommodation is like.

But with more options available than you might realise, there’s a type of student accommodation out there for absolutely everyone.

So, whether you’re thinking about how to customise your new room or how to survive sharing a kitchen, we’ve grabbed some of the best advice from the TSR forums and current UEA students to give you an insight into the world of student accommodation.

The types of student accommodation available

While most students will end up living in halls in the first year of uni, there are plenty of other options available if you’re not convinced it’s for you.

There are private halls (usually slightly higher quality, and you might be sharing with students from other unis), student houses and even studio flats if you want to live alone.

After first year, most students will live in student housing, often with flatmates or coursemates, but you may decide to go it alone or use a service like SpareRoom to find a new group of housemates.

TSR member T’archer shares their experience: “I didn't get into halls… but did get into a house-share with six other first years.

"It’s absolutely amazing – we cook together occasionally, have the same mindset and they’re a great group of people!”

Picking the right accommodation for you

Everyone has different priorities, so think about what’s important to you when you’re choosing where to live.

For instance, do you want somewhere close to uni? Do you want catered or self-catered accommodation? How are the transport links? How many people are you happy to live with? Do you want peace and quiet, or a bit of a party vibe?

And don’t forget to think about the local area; whether you want to be near a supermarket, a gym, the bars or a park, make sure you check out what’s around, or be prepared to fork out for the bus every day.

TSR member Jonah Ramone shares some wisdom: “How much you pay will affect the quality of the room, the food served (if in catered) and even how well the walls deal with external sounds, like drunk students getting home late at night…”

Claiming your space

Lots of people worry about sharing a bathroom and kitchen at uni, but it’s not as bad as you might be expecting.

Just remember that storage space will likely be limited in the communal areas, and there is the possibility of sharing with a housemate who helps themselves to your fancy face scrub, as TSR member RickF1 explains. 

“Try not to leave anything in the bathroom, like your shampoo. Instead, get a toiletry bag and keep all your bits in there so nobody can steal them!”. 

You’ll likely also end up with loads of identical IKEA woks, frying pans and bowls, so try not to take more than you really need - how often will you really use that lemon squeezer?

But remember, if you really find the idea of sharing a bathroom unbearable, there’s always en-suite accommodation available.

It’ll be more expensive, but you will have peace of mind that you’ll have your own space and at least there won’t be a queue for the shower in the morning…

Making yourself at home

Some students like to bring familiar items from home to make their room feel more homely, but moving into your new uni room is also a great opportunity for a fresh start.

A good place to start is with lighting – it’s amazing what a lamp or some casually-scattered fairy lights will do for your room’s cosy-factor.

Extra blankets and cushions can also help make your bed extra snug, and dotting a plant or two about can really bring a student room to life.

You could also print some photos to put up around your room – they’ll be a great talking point with your new friends – or get extra creative like TSR member Kindred.

"I had a big pin board in my uni room which I covered in black felt with coloured ribbon going down it.

"I then pinned photos to the ribbon, which was nice as it was something I’d made but also showed off pictures that were special to me.”

Shared living etiquette

Navigating the pitfalls of shared student accommodation can be tricky at first, but there are some simple things to remember that will make student life easier.

For starters, try to be considerate of who you’re living with, unlike TSR member Deutsch_Beth’s flatmate:

“We have a flatmate who steals our food, talks loudly on the phone at 4am and makes a complete mess of the kitchen but doesn't clear it up for days. She is the flatmate from hell!”

Use this as a good place to start; try to refrain from throwing an impromptu party in the middle of the night, leaving mounds of washing up festering in the sink for days or stealing your flatmate’s smoothie from the fridge. Food is precious (and expensive) when you’re living on a student budget!

Equally, if you have an issue with one of your flatmates, the best thing to do is to talk to them directly – that means no passive-aggressive notes or angry messages to the flat WhatsApp group.

Hopefully then you’ll have a more positive living experience like TSR member xoxAngel_Kxox:

“Our flat was like a family. We cooked, watched TV, went out, ordered food shopping together, gossiped until all hours of the morning... it was amazing. But, like any family, we still argued of course!”

Watch more videos about student life

Our vloggers are sharing their experiences of student life direct from the campus. In this video playlist, we've collected their vlogs about first year accommodation, to help you get an idea of what it's like when you first start.

Our partnership with the University of East Anglia

The Student Room is proud to work with UEA, a UK top-25 university (The Times/Sunday Times 2020 and Complete University Guide 2020), as the official partner of our student life section.

Not only is UEA highly rated in the league tables, it has also received a TEF gold award for excellence in teaching, learning and outcomes.

Located on the edge of Norwich, a lively city full of secret gems just waiting to be discovered.

Visit their profile page to learn more or join the conversation on TSR's UEA forum.

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