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Accommodation for undergraduates

Advice centre  >  Tenant Type  >  Undergraduate  >  Accommodation for undergraduates

As an undergraduate student, choosing the right student accommodation can affect your university experience and it’s not just in the first year that you are faced with these important decisions. Depending on your priorities and level of study, you may wish to choose different accommodation options throughout your undergraduate degree.

The weight of the decision and the abundance of accommodation options in most major cities makes choosing accommodation daunting. However, this article will guide you through the advantages and disadvantages of the accommodation options that you will be faced with throughout your student life so you can make the best decision when the time comes.

Young man sitting at a laptop with his parents over his shoulder, smiling.

First years

Your first-year accommodation choice is probably the most important housing decision you will make at university. Where you choose to live may affect your experience with student life. In the first year, you will have very little control over who you live with but there are some choices that may be preferable over others.

  • University halls – Halls of residence are university managed accommodation usually reserved for first year students. You are guaranteed accommodation as a first year, so they are great for meeting likeminded people. However, there is usually less room and with low quality furnishings.

  • Living at home – Living at home can save you a lot of money. However, the major downside to this accommodation option is that you will miss out on much of the student life.

  • Private accommodation – it’s a common misconception that first year students must live in halls of residence. Private accommodation can be more flexible, you can choose what type of accommodation you want, who you live with and how many people you live with. Private accommodation is usually modern and purpose-built.

Read more student accommodation advice for first years here

Second years

It is possible for you to reapply to live in halls of residence even as a current student, however, university accommodation is primarily offered to first years and international students and sometimes postgraduate students . Additionally, you may have made some friends from first year who you want to move in with. You might still want to live at home, but the alternatives are as follows:

  • Share house/flat – Student houses tend to be located near campus buildings or in areas where a lot of students live, these houses can have up to 10 bedrooms so that larger friendship groups can live together. Unfortunately, with the large capacity, comes a cramped and sometimes low-quality living space, there may be only one shared bathroom and kitchen.

  • Private accommodation – Private accommodation can be similar to shared accommodation – you are able to share with others if you wish but this kind of accommodation is more flexible, and the quality of accommodation is much higher. If you want to live alone there are also plenty of options for you such as studios or one bedroom apartments.

This is the first opportunity that you will have to choose your housemates so make sure its people you get on well with and who have similar lifestyles to you if possible. If you are unsure about who to live with, you are still able to meet new people in shared accommodation.

Read more accommodation advice for second years here.

young female student girl taking books off of the shelf of a library.

Third year

In your third year you will have the greatest workload of your undergraduate degree so having the right living conditions is important for you to achieve a good work-life balance. You will still be able to take advantage of shared accommodation, but you may find that the business and lack of space is not ideal for third year. You could live at home and miss out on the student life or choose private accommodation.

Private accommodation can offer greater home comforts than student housing, as quality of amenities tends to be higher. Our Durham accommodation offers generous private and shared study space, a cinema room, gym, sauna, rooftop terrace and a games room – you will certainly be able to work hard and relax.

You are still able to live with flatmates, alternatively, you can choose to live alone if you’d prefer the peace and quiet for third year. You might want to choose an en-suite room for an intermediate level of privacy, although, even our studio flats and one-bed apartments offer opportunities for socialising.

Accommodation considerations

When you are choosing your student accommodation throughout university you can refer back to this guide on all of your accommodation options

University accommodation



Socialising is easier (student village)

Can be busy and noisy

Relatively affordable

You have no choice over whom and how many people you live with

Tends to be located near campus

You have no choice over where you live (you may be able to state a preference)

Bills are usually included in rent

Quality tends to be lower

The average self-catered university accommodation in 2021 was £132 per week

female student sharing her knowledge amongst friends. There are many books on the table.

Shared student accommodation



Socialising is easier

Can be cramped and noisy


Quality tends to be low

Tends to be located near other students

You are often on a joint tenancy so if someone moves out, the others are responsible for their rent

You can choose who and how many people you live with

Bills are often not included in rent

You may have to commute to university

The average amount that students in the United Kingdom pay for rent in 2022 is £166 per week and this may not include bills .

Living at home



You will save a lot of money on rent

You will miss out on many social events

You will have home comforts you are used to

You may have to commute to university

You will miss out on socialising at home with housemates

You could be paying no rent at all to your parents, but you may be spending money on commuting

Private accommodation



Higher quality features and amenities

Prices are slightly higher

Tends to be located in the city centre and near campus.

You may not be located near most other students

You can choose different types of flats

You can choose to live alone or with others

Bills are usually included in the rent

Enhanced security and functionality

The average self-catered private accommodation costs £152 per week

Read more about accommodation considerations for undergraduates here.

Purpose-built student accommodation can offer flexibility over room type, flatmates, bills, location and more. Accommodation fees may be slightly higher compared to lower quality and overcrowded accommodation, but you will be centrally located in high quality, secure accommodation. In private accommodation you will not be sacrificing your social life either, as there are plenty of events and social spaces to make use of.

If you want to learn about your private accommodation options as an undergraduate student contact us today.