Choosing an accommodation is a tricky one since you will only be able to see the actual room once you arrive at the Hall. The room I stayed at during my first year in Leeds was a standard en-suite; it came with a cupboard, a single bed and a desk; I shared the kitchen with 5 other roommates. There was a launderette and a mini market that sold essential day to day items. It was (from memory) approximately 20 minute bus drive to the campus. The room was basic but you learn to make it a home. The bus stop was right at the gate and was not a hassle to catch; it was secure and safe for students to walk around and gives you the opportunity to meet other students and socialize.
After the first year, I rented out a one-bedroom apartment close to campus, approximately 5 minutes walk and 10 minutes to the city centre. It was more convenient in terms of commuting, I did not have to take (or miss!) the bus and I had the chance to go back in between lectures.
Many universities offer a wide variety of accommodation facilities that would suit different budgets:
- Self-catered single Standard Bedroom: the most cost-effective option for those with a tight budget. Kitchen and bathroom facilities are shared with usually 6-8 flatmates.
- Self-catered en-suite standard bedroom: Each bedroom has its own bathroom, but the kitchen facilities are shared with your flatmates (6-8 flats per corridor). Most common.
- Catered en–suite bedroom: You are provided with two meals a day (usually breakfast and an evening meal) with different choices to choose from. This is a good option for those who don’t cook – personally, if I go back in time I would choose a catered accommodation.
- Studio Flats: This Is usually on the higher side of the cost; students have exclusive use of a kitchen and a bathroom. This is usually recommended for postgraduate students.
In short, you have the choice of any of the above, as long as you apply as early as possible. I would personally recommend you to stay at a Hall during your first year as it helps you settle down and meet new people.
If you prefer not to live at a students’ hall or are looking to privately rent an apartment, take a look at Accommodation for Student’s website; It is a search engine for student accommodation and private halls in the UK. You can also check if your university has an approved list of landlords or lettings agents.
- Check the location of each Halls of Residence and compare. Would you like to stay on campus or off campus? Are there close supermarkets or facilities to the accommodation?
- Budget: Compare the costs between the accommodation options at your chosen university. If you are on a tight budget, self-catered accommodation might be more suitable for you than the catered. Also look into the number of weeks on your accommodation contract; some contracts are for a longer number of weeks and will cost more.
- Your room will be your home; so spend some time decorating it and making it cozy.
- Introduce yourself to your neighbors.
- Check the deadline of the accommodation applications and apply by the date stated.
I hope this helps you differentiate between the different options you have to make the most during your studies abroad.