When to search for student accommodation | A complete guide to finding suitable accommodation

A young student with a backpack and headphones around her neck, smiling and holding a red folder, stands in a modern wooden-paneled hallway.

In 2021/22, there were 2.86 million students at UK higher education institutions. With this figure coming off the back of COVID, it is estimated that in 2022/23, this number has increased. To ensure you obtain your first preference for student accommodation, it is important to start researching as soon as possible.

This guide will focus on when different students should start looking for student accommodation during the academic year, and the factors that should be considered.

When should I start looking for student accommodation as a first year?

Generally, international and first-year students will choose to live in halls of residence. These rooms have the basic features required, often including a shared kitchen and bathroom. University halls are ideal for meeting other students, especially when moving to a new city.

It is recommended to start searching for student accommodation as soon as possible, which might even mean searching for accommodation before applying to any university. This allows you to understand your living arrangements and what you can expect from the student accommodation option.

Student packing for universityAdvised timeline for a first-year student:

September and October – start to research potential locations and the types of student accommodation. Think about arranging a viewing to get a better idea.

November to February – finalise your choice and begin to book student accommodation.

Although halls of residence are a popular choice for first-year students, these places are limited and highly competitive. Consider looking at private accommodation, which includes shared accommodation giving you the opportunity to meet new friends, or single-occupancy apartments.

You may worry about booking student accommodation early if you have received a conditional offer. Mansion Student provides a First Year Conditional Offer for prospective first year students who have just completed their A-levels. In these circumstances, you have the option to cancel accommodation after 72 hours if the required results for your first choice university have not been met.

Contact Mansion Student today or arrange a viewing at one of our accommodations.

When should I start looking for second-year or third-year accommodation?

According to the National Student Accommodation 2023 Survey, 25% of all students started looking for student accommodation before December. This also means existing students need to consider where they will be living in both the second and third years.

Second-year accommodation

After meeting with other students during the first term, many decide to move out of halls of residence and into private accommodation with housemates of their choice. Second-year students may choose private accommodation as there is more flexibility with the room sizes, and is often more conveniently located in the city. This type of property is often purpose-built for students, and has a variety of social spaces to relax.

Once you have decided who you want to live with, start to view properties and look at booking as soon as possible. We recommend booking student accommodation from December to early February to ensure you receive your first preference.

If you’re looking for high-quality, secure second-year student accommodation in your chosen location, contact Mansion Student.

Third-year accommodation

As a third-year student, studying for your final exams will be your main priority in your final year rather than partying. This may result in searching for student accommodation away from the city centre or looking at studio accommodation which offers more space and privacy.

Mansion Student provides rebooking offers for existing students at some of our student accommodations. These rebooking offers are available between certain time frames, where students who rebook can receive a cashback reward.

Discover the student accommodation we offer in some of the UK’s most popular cities here.

Factors to consider when choosing student accommodation

Whether you are looking for your first-year student accommodation, or as a third-year student who is looking for a quieter place, there are certain factors to consider. These include:

Your budget

Your budget will determine the type of accommodation you can afford and comfortably live in for the 51 weeks. Shared accommodation can provide cost-effective living; however, private student accommodation typically includes all bills and often has more secure facilities.

At Mansion Student, we provide various accommodation options ranging from £140 to £259 per week, depending on the location, size and facilities included. In addition, all bills at our purpose-built accommodation are included in this price.

Contact Mansion Student today to find out more information.


Consider the location, and what is in the area you have chosen. Students require certain amenities within walking distance, such as local supermarkets, transport links, places of interest, and popular nightlife spots.

Mansion Student provides a range of informative guides for those looking to move to some of the UK’s most popular student cities. These include Leeds, Newcastle, and Nottingham.

Browse through our student life guides at our Advice Centre here.

Proximity to university

First-year and international students tend to live in university halls as they are conveniently located to all university resources; especially if they have never lived in that city before. Yet, after a year of living in the city, many second-year (and future third-year) students may want to live elsewhere while still easily travelling to the university.

Contact Mansion Student today to find out more information.

How Mansion Student can help

Since 2007, Mansion Student has acquired, developed and maintained modern student accommodations throughout some of the most popular student cities in the United Kingdom. We prioritise your welfare during your stay, and will help you through every stage of the booking and tenancy period. Browse through our different student accommodation locations below:

If you are interested in staying at any of our student accommodations, arrange a viewing here to ensure you are completely happy with the property before booking.

Browse through our student offers here.

Contact Mansion Student today for more information about booking accommodation, or call us at 0800 652 7844

Frequently asked questions

Can you choose who you live with at student accommodation?

This depends on the type of student accommodation chosen. Typically, first-year students will choose to live in residence halls, as this is a good chance to meet other students when moving to a new city. They will not be able to choose who they live with.

However, once they have made friends, either in halls of residence or at university, many second and third-year students decide to choose who they live with. Shared accommodation provides a variety of social and emotional benefits.

At Mansion Student, our purpose-built student accommodation has a variety of shared spaces to socialise with friends.

Browse through the locations we provide student accommodation here.

Can you live in student accommodation without being a student?

Although accommodation predominantly comprises students, other types of tenants are welcome to apply, however not all accommodation properties off this. These include young professionals and apprentices, who have recently graduated from a university and may still be searching for a job.

Student accommodation allows them to continue living in a familiar, social environment; with lower rent and all bills included whilst they get on their feet, although you will need to factor in paying council tax.

Find out more about accommodation advice for non-students here.

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