How to find a place to live at university

How to find a place to live at university

Leaving home to go to university? Even if you’re not sure where you’ll be studying next year, it’s a good idea to research your accommodation options as soon as possible. In this blog, we’ll run through some of the most popular student accommodation options

Check with the universities first

Usually, the best place to start your search will be on the websites of the universities that you’ve applied to. Most will have a dedicated accommodation section packed with everything you need to know, from types of rooms available to costs, FAQs, and more. Even if they don’t have dedicated student accommodation, they can usually give you information about other living options close by.

If you have any questions, make sure you give them a call before submitting an application. Universities often charge a fee for accommodation applications, so it’s best to get it right before you have to pay.

Accommodation options to explore

Accommodation usually isn’t a “one size fits all” situation. There are a few different types of options you can choose from depending on your individual circumstances, including:

  • On campus accommodation (sometimes known as halls of residence)
  • Private student accommodation
  • Private rentals

On campus accommodation

Lots of universities offer accommodation options located right on campus. Sometimes they’re run by the uni, and sometimes they’re affiliated with or owned by separate institutions. Sizes and included facilities differ from place to place, with everything from private single bedroom suites through to six person share houses.

Utilities like gas, water, and electricity are usually included in your fees, and most places will provide free internet access. Other perks you might find include:

  • All utilities, including internet
  • Furnished rooms
  • Meal plans
  • Cleaning service
  • 24-hour security and on-site staff support
  • Social events and activities
  • Study areas
  • Recreation areas, e.g. cinema rooms, gyms, BBQs, etc.

You can find out about what options are on offer at each university on their individual websites, or give them a call and ask.

Private student accommodation

Universities aren’t the only ones who offer student accommodation – there are also lots of private providers who manage purpose-built student accommodation, meaning the only people you’ll be living with are other students. The main difference is these places tend to be a bit further away from campus (but are usually still pretty close). Just like on campus accommodation, there are different options to explore to suit all budgets and preferences.

Private student accommodation usually offers a lot of the same perks as other on campus options, like fully furnished rooms and all inclusive utilities.

To find private student accommodation, the best place to look is usually online. Your chosen university may also be able to help you with nearby private options.

Private rentals

If neither of those options appeal to you, renting your own place might be more your style. The main perk of this option is the total freedom to choose where you live and who you live with. Private rentals can also be cheaper compared to dedicated student accommodation, but the rent usually doesn’t include any additional bills, like electricity, gas, and internet, so you’ll need to pay for these separately.

Sometimes you can find furnished rentals, but most places usually come unfurnished. You may also need to pay a deposit or security payment (also known as bond).

You can search for private rentals online, or go over your options with a real estate agent.

Save money and live at home

If you aren’t keen on moving away from family, friends, or your part-time job, there’s always the option of studying online or enrolling at a university near you. That way you can continue to live at home while getting the qualifications you need for your future career (just make sure you help out with the cooking and cleaning every now and then).

Organise your finances

First things first, you’ll need to work out how much your accommodation is going to cost. Then, budget for essential living – any bills, food, transport, medical costs, study costs, etc. Anything leftover you can use for whatever you’d like – going out, Netflix, new clothes, etc.

If you have (or want) a job, think about how you might be able to fit part-time or casual work around your studies. Or you can research other financial support options, such as scholarships or government assistance.

A couple of other things to keep in mind

Money is important, but it’s not the only thing you should consider when choosing a place to live. Here are some other things to keep in mind when browsing accommodation options.

Keep connected

Make sure wherever you go that you’ll have that all-important internet connection, or you could struggle staying up to date with course work. Plus, it makes it hard staying in touch with friends and family. If possible, check if the phone signal is strong enough too.

Location is important

When you’re searching for the best possible deal, it’s easy to go for the cheapest option. But you also need to consider your travel times and costs as well – so do a bit of research on public transport options or how much time and fuel it’ll take you to drive to campus and back.

Other things to consider include how close you are to local shops and other important facilities (including social options like restaurants and bars).


It’s really important that you feel safe where you’re living – this will help to ease your parents’ worries too. Ask about on-site security systems and staffing, and check their hours of operation (24/7 is best).

Find out from some online searching, discussion groups, or the university themselves what the area you’re thinking of living in is like for safety.

Find testimonials

If you’re going for a private rental, it might be hard to get testimonials about the landlord, safety, and the area, etc. For any other situation, check websites for reviews, ask in discussion groups, or try to find past students who can share their experience.

Do some checks

If you’re not staying at the university itself, then check the background records of the company that you’ll be using. Make sure you only deal with established and reputable businesses and agents.

Available facilities

When you’re new to uni, it might be easier to settle in if there are communal areas where you can hang out and meet other students, such as common rooms, movie rooms, or gyms. You’ll also want to check out what the kitchen, laundry, and bathroom arrangements are to see if they’ll suit you.

Get your applications in ASAP

Accommodation options are usually always in high demand, no matter where you’re thinking of living. You might have a lot on your mind already, but perhaps you can enlist a parent, carer, or sibling to help you do some groundwork, then get your applications in ASAP.

The sooner you apply, the more chances you’ll have of getting one your top preferences – and it’s one more think you can check off your list and stop stressing about.

If you want to know more about your accommodation and study options, check out our website here.

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