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Student Halls vs. Student Houses – Everything You Need to Know

Leaving for University is a massive decision and undertaking that changes a person, not only in terms of their subsequent job or career prospects, but as an individual. In fact, one fifth of British people will meet the love of their life at university, and potentially in halls or student digs if not in class according to The Student Room website. Many more, meanwhile will make lifelong friendships and see their experiences living in student housing inform the adult they will become. Hence, just as choosing the right degree matters so too does choosing the right housing. Then, to help tasked with making that all important choice, here are the pros and cons of both options, and an alternative accommodation option for those not sold on either opting to live in university run halls of residence or privately owned student digs.

University Hall of Residence

Halls of residence is the term given to university owned accommodations purpose built and intended for use by its students.

The Pros of University Halls of Residence

  • University owned halls are rented out fully furnished and ready to move straight into, making the move far easier and less stressful, especially when moving for the first time.
  • Onsite security: university halls operate 24/7 security in most instances.
  • Those moving into university halls enjoy moving into a readymade student community which makes making friends far easier.
  • Onsite amenities such as laundry facilities and even shops and student bars are often close by
  • Some universities operate free bus services to and from halls. Speak with your chosen university if you aren’t sure whether this is a service your university provides.
  • Because halls are owned by universities, halls are almost always well maintained and equipped and issues or problems are dealt with swiftly
  • Some universities offer catering options and top up cards

The Cons of University Halls of Residence

  • Most halls of residence suites are small and lack space which can make some people feel claustrophobic
  • Halls of residence occupy a site removed from the wider community which can make some students feel isolated and secluded
  • Living in small quarters surrounded by fellow students, halls of residence accommodations can be loud and noisy and noise can go on well into the night
  • Some universities require their halls students to commit to weekly cleaning chores, such as taking out the bins, washing up and cleaning communal kitchens. Chores in these instances are rotated, but some students find these rigid rules insufferable

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  • No visitors and strict rules around having guests to stay in university halls can also make halls intolerable for some, with most universities requiring prior notice before a visitor is allowed to visit or sleep over; this can of course dampen the romance between couples and make being spontaneous impossible

For more information as to life in student halls, what to expect and the pros and cons as discussed by current and previous halls residents, give the Guardian Newspaper feature: A Student’s Guide to Living in Halls a read.

Student Digs

Student digs is a slang term used to describe privately owned student housing which almost always occupies a standalone property rented out to students.

The Pros of Student Digs

  • Those who choose to privately rent will consequently live within the wider community rather than find themselves secluded and isolated from it.
  • Choosing to search for private student accommodation broadens your choice of accommodations, locations and price range.
  • Privately renting means that students have supreme freedom as to who they invite over, when and how long they let visitors stay without having to report to or make their sleeping arrangements official or known to anyone else.
  • When wanting to live with friends, privately renting is often the only viable option; landlords, in fact, often prefer to rent to a group as this fills their property and minimises on the chances of housemates not getting on.
  • More space: quite literally and simply, student digs almost always mean getting more space for your money.
  • Privately renting can also in some instances prove cheaper than opting to live in university halls of residence. Hence, this is something worth checking out before you make a decision.

The Cons of Student Digs

  • Some private landlords can be nightmares when it comes to maintenance and upkeeping their properties, especially when dealing with students whom many private landlords seem to feel do not require a high or even adequate level of housing
  • Nightmare housemates happen in both halls and digs. Unlike in halls though, those who opt to live in student digs have nowhere and no one to turn to when dealing with a nightmare housemate. Meanwhile, in student halls there is sometimes scope of being moved or re-housed in another flat if or when situations become intolerable
  • Less security: privately owned houses do not feature 24/7 security guards or wardens. Neither do privately owned residences usually occupy a purpose built student estate or village; hence, those moving away for the first time can feel vulnerable in student digs
  • Because a high proportion of first year students opt to live within university halls, opting not to means that you will be literally separated and removed from many of your fellow classmates and you could consequently miss out on some of the goings on and being included in social aspects of university life
  • You have to cook for yourself. Reiterated: if you don’t make food, you don’t eat; there is no canteen or catering card you can top up or literally dine out on when waking with a hangover and nothing to eat for breakfast
  • Living in digs means having to pay, manage and split bills, sort out your own TV licence, set up an internet / phone line and obtain and file council tax exemption documents for yourself which can be daunting for those leaving home for the first time. Fortunately, the Save the Student website Guide: The Ultimate Guide to Student Bills can help when it comes to getting to grips with paying the bills as a student living in digs.

For further advice for those opting to privately rent, the Guide: House Hunting 101 compiled and provided online for free via the official Complete University Guide website is a fantastic resource and must read to avoid ending up living with nightmare housemates or in a house of DIY horrors.

The Best of Both Worlds

If you opt not to live within university offered halls or are not offered a place and do not like the idea of slumming it in student digs for a year, don’t dismay; there is an alternative, and that alternative is to consider moving into luxury private student housing.

Combining the best of both university halls and the freedoms of digs, luxury and private student accommodation is an option increasing in popularity and availability year on year within the UK.

To see for yourself what luxury private student houses look like and how they compare to the alternatives, visit the Bellvue Students website. Providing luxury private student housing in the North West of England, their website features a useful ‘360 Walkthrough’ feature enabling prospective students to see exactly what they can expect ahead of viewing. Hence, even for those looking to attend a university outside of the north west, the accommodations offered via Bellvue provide a bench mark by which to judge luxury private student housing wherever you are going to study.