A guide to student accommodation considerations for undergraduates

Student hugging mum

As an undergraduate, finding the right university accommodation to suit you is a key part of making the most of your student life.

Though you may feel pressured to go down the expected route of student halls in your first year, it’s important to consider if that is really something that will suit your personality and priorities. There is a range of quality accommodation alternatives in the United Kingdom, and we’re to help you understand which would be best for you.

In this article, we will cover some of the things you should consider when looking for your accommodation throughout your undergraduate degree.

Accommodation options for undergraduate students

Students celebrating with each other

First years

University halls of residence are a very popular option for first-year students in the UK. These are affordable, convenient choices that are generally close to campus. Because of the communal nature of the accommodation, it’s easy to make friends with other students in your flat or in the same block as you. However, due to the popularity of halls and them being university-owned and managed, you may not always get your first pick of location if you were late to apply or were accepted onto your course through clearing.

This is where you may find that a private accommodation provider has more options suited to you. Going private will not only give you more freedom to choose where you live but also access to significantly better facilities and more personal space. Private accommodation may be particularly appealing to you if you are a mature student.

Alternatively, if you are studying in the same city where you currently live or the majority of your course will be delivered remotely, you may wish to continue living at home. This may be a more suitable accommodation option if you are only studying part-time, perhaps alongside employment.

Second years

Though predominantly reserved for first years, second-year students can also opt for halls if that kind of accommodation continues to suit their needs. Typically, after taking in the experience of halls, students opt for privately rented accommodation for their second year of university. One of the main reasons for this is the ability to choose who you live with. Many first-years make solid friendship groups, either with the people they lived with in halls or people from their course, who they then choose to live with throughout their second academic year.

A lot of students opt for shared houses in their second year. These are usually rented from private landlords or letting agents. They are generally more spacious than halls but often require tenants to set up, manage and pay their own bills. Student houses are also typically clustered together in specific neighbourhoods close to universities and city centres. While it may sound fun living with a large group of friends, sharing facilities like a kitchen and bathroom can become tiresome. You may also not get the kind of privacy or peace and quiet you would like.

Third years

If you enjoyed student life in halls, this can still be an option as a returning student in your third year. However, most students will find private accommodation with a good group of friends to be the preferred option by this point. You and your housemates will have complete autonomy over where you live and enjoy some more freedom.

Of course, if you would rather live alone in your third year so you can concentrate on your studies, you can always rent a studio or one-bedroom apartment in a purpose-built student property such as the ones we offer at Mansion Tyne in Newcastle. Although in the same building as other student tenants, this type of tenancy avoids some of the accommodation issues faced in student housing such as shared bathrooms, inconsistent property maintenance and jointly managing bills separately to rent.

Private accommodation vs university halls

Private accommodation

Typically newer builds with better quality amenitiesMore expensive than halls
Prime locations which provide a good balance between university and social lifeYou may miss out socially on the ‘halls’ experience
Includes luxuries such as ensuites and private kitchens May require a commute to university
Are flexible to suit those who want privacy and those who want to live with others

University halls of residence

Relatively inexpensiveVery little privacy/quiet time to study
A popular and social way to meet new people if this is your first experience living away from homeRooms are typically very small and basic
Conveniently located (usually on-campus) You have no choice in who or how many people you live with
A communal kitchen/lounge and shared bathroom

Living alone vs living with other people

Students playing snookerAs mentioned above, a lot of students decide to live with friends in their second and third years. Shared accommodation provides a lot of social and emotional benefits for students, from always having someone around to spend time with to having an immediate support network if things start to get a bit tough.

A lot of purpose-built accommodation, such as our ensuite, non-ensuite and studio apartments in Mansion Place, Nottingham make this process much easier by including utility bills in the rent.

Whether you’re embracing young adulthood or are a mature student who values your privacy, living alone lets you be more independent than sharing. Living alone, especially in your third year, can also make the transition from student life to employment a bit easier. You can enjoy the calm of your own space in a private studio and make your accommodation feel like a ‘home away from home’.

Alternatively, if you felt like you missed out on the halls experience, you could opt for a flat share, either with fellow students or young professionals.

The cost of student accommodation in the UK

According to Unipol and the National Union for Students (NUS), the current average weekly rent for all types of student accommodation in the United Kingdom is £166 per week, or £7,374 per year.

For university-owned and managed accommodation, the average weekly rents for different room types in 2021 were:

  • Standard catered: £179 per week

  • Standard self-catered: £132 per week

  • Ensuite: £162 per week

  • Studio: £214 per week

For direct lets from private providers, the average weekly rents in 2021 were:

  • Standard catered: £293 per week

  • Standard self-catered: £152 per week

  • Ensuite: £155 per week

  • Studio: £228 per week

These prices vary across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as different regions. In London, for example, the average rent in 2021/22 for university-owned and managed accommodation and direct lets from private providers stands at £212 per week and £259 per week, respectively. Compare this to the North East, where the average weekly rent for £118 for university-owned and managed accommodation and £143 for direct lets.

At Mansion Student, we provide a variety of accommodation options that range from £99 to £199 per week, depending on the location, size and facilities included with the accommodation. Whatever your budget, the team at Mansion Student are always on hand to help find your perfect living space.

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

Renting privately with Mansion Student

Maison Student offers luxury, purpose-built accommodation for students in Leeds, Durham, Newcastle, Nottingham and Dundee. Our properties contain a mixture of ensuite studios and shared flats with communal spaces, gyms, outside areas, on-site maintenance teams and much more.

All of our rooms are bright, modern and secure with a door entry system and CCTV surveillance. Our students have peace of mind knowing they are living in safe and reputable residences with our ANUK National Code accreditation.

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