When you are accepted onto a postgraduate course, either as a Masters student or a PhD candidate, you will have so much to think about. This will include where you will be securing your funding from, whether you will require part-time work in order to support yourself and what kind of career opportunities will be available to you once you graduate.
But one of the most important things to consider will be where you will live during your studies. You may need a short-term let while you temporarily relocate for fieldwork, or perhaps you have specific requirements in terms of accessibility that means typical student housing won’t be suitable for you.
In this article, we discuss some of the accommodation considerations you should bear in mind before the new academic year begins, including the types of accommodation available to you as a postgraduate student. We will also explore some renting dos and don’ts, and look at the average cost of student accommodation.
Types of accommodation for postgraduates
There are many options when it comes to accommodation for postgraduates. These include university-owned and managed accommodation such as general halls of residence and postgraduate-only halls. You can also live in private or independent halls, or as a live-in tutor in halls of residence alongside undergraduate students if you are doing a PhD.
If you wish to live away from the university campus, you may choose private rentals such as a shared house or flat. Alternatively, you could opt for a self-contained studio or a one-bedroom apartment available in our Mansion Point property in Manchester.
If you choose to live at home with your family, you may not get the same student experience or sense of freedom you would if you choose to live independently. However, this could be the most affordable option for you if your lectures or seminars are mostly delivered virtually and don’t require you to attend campus every day.
Shared accommodation vs living alone
As a postgraduate student, you can choose to live alone or with other people. You can live in a shared house or flat with other students, either on or off-campus. However, with this accommodation option, be aware of the different social, personal and academic priorities of your fellow residents —especially if you are mixing with postgraduates and undergraduates.
You can also share with non-students such as working professionals, friends or family members. Working professionals may be a better alternative to students if you appreciate a quieter atmosphere and routine. Depending on their occupations, they probably won’t have a lot of late nights during the week and may be more likely to value good housekeeping (but not always!). However, they may not fully understand the pressures or challenges of being a postgraduate student, especially if you are balancing your studies with a part-time job.
An additional thing to consider with shared accommodation is the contract/length of stay, especially if you are living with friends. You may only need temporary accommodation while conducting research, whereas the friends you plan to live with require a 12-month lease. This is something you should all discuss openly and honestly before booking any accommodation.
At the postgraduate level, living alone is often the most attractive and suitable accommodation choice. PhDs and Masters degrees are more demanding than undergraduate courses , requiring more intense study sessions. The presence of housemates may prove too distracting, so a solo rental would be the ideal solution.
However, you would need to bear in mind that this can be more expensive than living in shared accommodation. If you think you would be worried about finding this a bit lonely, many of our ensuite rooms such as those in our Woodhouse Apartments property in Leeds have shared kitchen facilities that allow you to mingle with your fellow residents.
Renting dos and don’ts
There are some essential things to keep in mind when researching rental opportunities for your postgraduate study. Firstly, you will need to factor in your lifestyle and cultural interests when looking at locations. For example, do you want to be within walking distance of city centre amenities, or is being in a quieter setting more important to you?
In addition to your academic priorities, don’t forget about your social and personal life. This includes the amount of space and privacy you want from your accommodation, and your willingness to interact with house/flatmates you didn’t know before moving in. Set reasonable expectations, factoring in what you could afford after accommodation fees and bills have been paid.
However, you don’t want to rush into booking a space somewhere you aren’t sure about just for somewhere to live—make sure you are happy with the property before committing to the lease. Seek the advice and guidance of peers and professionals such as your accommodation provider if you are unsure about anything, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area you are interested in.
When choosing a property, do a full inventory and sort out your admin before moving in. This can include registering to vote, figuring out whether council tax will need to be paid if you are living with non-students, and looking into additional utilities like a TV license.
Cost of student accommodation
The cost of student accommodation in the UK varies across the country. According to a 2021 survey by Unipol and the National Union for Students (NUS), the average cost of student accommodation in the UK is £7,374 but this rises to £9,488 in London. These figures include university-owned and managed accommodation, private rentals and charitable providers.
When considering how much you will spend on accommodation, either monthly or annually, bear in mind that not all providers will include utility bills in their rent. This is especially true for private accommodation through estate agents and landlords, in which case you will have to set up and manage gas, electricity, water, broadband and other utilities yourself (or with your house/flatmates).
Renting privately with Mansion Student
If you want full peace of mind when looking for off-campus accommodation as a postgraduate student, then Mansion Student can help. We offer accommodation for students in a number of major university cities across the UK, providing fully refurbished, serviced and secure properties that are privately rented and purpose-built.
All of our rooms, studios and apartments are inclusive of bills, and costs include contents insurance for that extra peace of mind. Get in touch with us for more advice and to see how we can help you.