Student Halls or Private Accommodation?

It’s June and this means the next academic year is about to begin. I remember last year when I was planning my move to London I was considering various living options. The obvious two options were living in student accommodation or staying in private accommodation. My parents and I had a discussion about which option was better and what points to consider when making the choice. My Father’s take on this was typical Indian Father mentality. For an Indian Father of a daughter, safety and security is the number one priority therefore his recommendation was to stay in a student accommodation. On the other hand, my friend suggested that it might be better if I stayed in private accommodation because that would mean more flexibility. For example, considering it’s London there would be a lot of opportunities for networking and I shouldn’t be tied down or restricted. Fair points both of these. It’s been about a year since that discussion and eight months since I moved into student halls. Therefore I think I am now in a position to share with you the four main advantages of living in student halls which may aid you in making a decision regarding your living situation.

Financial Efficiency

This is a huge advantage of living in a student accommodation. My residence has the capacity of 800 people across standard rooms and studio apartments and we pay around Β£180 per week, utility included. It’s definitely not cheap but it’s more efficient compared to the kind of rent and utility bills paid by my friends who live in private accommodation. Your total costs get spread across 800 people so naturally it is going to be more efficient. And that also means we get 24×7 heating, water, Wi-Fi, etc. And because we’re paying it directly to the college, and it’s all one amount paid over 3-4 terms, we don’t have to worry about monthly bills, rent and all. Those living in private accommodation have to pay rent to the landlord or estate agent, and over and above that, they have to pay utility bills to different service providers. I mean, it’s not that big a hassle but then again you would much rather avoid that.

Social Life

I absolutely love that I have people around me all the time which means I can be social without even having to step out of my house. More so if you live in a residence with common spaces or at least that’s conducive for social interaction. On the other hand, I can be by myself in my room when I don’t want to be social and that’s a perfect balance for me! My residence has a few excellent common areas. Most of these common areas are equipped with smart TVs and often you will find groups of people huddled around it watching Netflix or YouTube or whatever it is. One of our common rooms is equipped with indoor sports such as foosball, pool, and another game that I don’t really understand. It’s equipped with couches, tables, benches and oftentimes people gather here to play board games (Tip: bring your board games with you; it’ll make you instantly famous. Plus board games here are expensive to purchase.) When it’s submission/exam season, you’ll find people sitting here and studying together. This brings me to the next advantage.

Group Study

Having a few classmates or department mates in your residence is very very useful. Exchanging notes, having discussions, studying together for exams – these are some of the advantages of having your classmates around you. This has been incredibly useful for me. I can’t even tell you how many papers I’ve written mostly based on my discussions with my classmates (not recommended).

Strategic Location

The other advantage I found is that student halls are generally well  located. It’s usually close to a major station so you’re well connected to the rest of the city. Additionally, you will have a lot of markets and shopping centers around you.
But of course living in residences is not all hunky dory. You definitely have to get along with your housemates; even if not get along, at least be cordial because you will be sharing space with them at all times. You can choose to be a hermit and avoid people,but I guarantee you that’s going to be difficult. However, this can be good for you. It gives you a chance to hone your social skills, communication skills, and most importantly, feedback skills. Unlike private accommodation where you might share your kitchen and living space with 2 or 3 people, in student residences you’re likely to be sharing your common spaces with 8 to 12 or 13 people. Yes, that’s a lot. So you definitely have to come mentally prepared to have 12 people around you. You will be sharing kitchen and living space with all of these people, most of whom will have drastically different living habits from you. Sometimes that will get on your nerves but the challenge there is for you to sort it out in a effective and graceful manner. I’ve never had to do this before because I lived with my family and well, our feedback system at home was very different. We would just yell at each other! But believe me, you can’t do that when you’re living in student halls. It teaches you patience if nothing else. That’s the only drawback I’ve found of staying in the halls.
But if I had to go back in time to make a decision about my living situation, I would choose student halls again.

If this is your first move to a new country for education and are wondering what the experience will be like, take a look at my post about moving to London and my first month here.
Best of luck for the new academic year!

Sunayana

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