University run accommodation
As a first-year student, whether you are local or coming from overseas, you can apply to live on or near the campus through the university of your choice. All UK universities have accommodation for students, and it is referred to as “student halls”.
This is often the cheapest form of student accommodation and includes all your utility bills, internet access and sometimes, for a small subsidy, can include meals.
Most rooms will have an ensuite bathroom (although in some older buildings you might have to share the bathroom facilities with other students), a bed, storage, and a desk. And some may have a kitchenette, with the basics. But it is more likely that you will be sharing a kitchen with other students.
In student halls you will have to share study rooms, lounges, laundry rooms with other students, but the upside is that it will help you make friends. And it’s likely that there will be some outdoor space, such as a garden or courtyard. The accommodation is secure and has staff that look after the building and the students.
Student halls are normally designed for one resident per room, but some universities have family rooms available, and some buildings are accessible for wheelchair users.
The deadlines for university run accommodation various from university to university. For example, UCL’s deadline for undergraduate students is 31 May, but it’s 31 August if you’re studying at the University of Manchester, but it is usually between May and September, before the school year starts in October. The easiest way to find out the deadline is to visit the website of your preferred university.
The application process for university accommodation is straightforward and usually involves filling out an online application via the universities website, but be aware if you miss the deadline, you will not be able to secure this type of accommodation as the demand is higher than supply.
Private student accommodation
Private student accommodation like the ones on the GoBritanya website are growing in popularity as this kind of accommodation is often newer and offers more amenities, with larger rooms.
This kind of accommodation is generally located near universities or within the city centre. Another advantage with this option is that it includes all your bills, contents insurance and internet connection, so you know exactly what you will be spending each month. And all rooms include a bathroom, and some accommodation comes with your own kitchen, which isn’t always the case with university accommodation.
Furthermore, some accommodation is designed for dual occupancy so you could share a room with a friend or partner. And is always designed to be accessible for wheelchair users.
Whilst you might pay more for this type of accommodation you will have free access to nicely designed study rooms, lounges and some even have cinema rooms and gyms. And most organise regular social events so that residents can get to known one another.
Unlike university accommodation you can book at any time and for different periods. Although booking for an academic year offers the best value for money.
Renting a house or flat
If you are starting university with a group of friends or bringing your family with you a good option could be to rent a house or flat near your university, as it might work out cheaper and give you more freedom and privacy.
Renting a place does come with more responsibility because you will be expected to look after any repairs that are needed on the property and if there is a garden, you’ll need to maintain it, unless the contract states otherwise.
The rent you pay will most often exclude the bills for gas, electricity, water and the internet, which you might need to get connected before you move into the property. And if not everyone in the household is a student you might also be liable for Council tax.
If you want to rent a whole place you can use website such as Zoopla, OpenRent and RightMove. And if you want to rent a room then try SpareRoom or RoomGo.
Contact the university or the Students’ Unions as they often provide lists of approved estate agents and landlords where you can find private houses and flats to rent.
Living with a host family
If you’re looking for a home away from home, consider living with a host family? There are numerous websites that can pair you with a local host family. There are many advantages to this option, for one it is likely to be much cheaper than renting. And you will not be responsible for any bills and your rent could include all your meals, which means no stressing about having to cook for yourself.
And by far one of the biggest advantages will be you will have a local helping you settle in. Obviously, this option has its disadvantages, and these include your commute to university might take longer; you might not be able to bring friends back and you will have to follow the rules imposed by your host family, such as not staying out late.
To find approved host families that have experience and have been vetted try HomeStay, BrightWorld and Lingoo.