Making sure you choose the right student accommodation suited to you and your needs is so important, after all, you’re going to be spending a good few years of your life studying at university!
When preparing for university, you’re going to be faced with so many daunting questions, the main one being “where am I going to live?!”
Accommodation is perhaps one of the most important factors when it comes to going to university, you really need to think what it is you’re looking for, whether it’s luxury or more a more affordable option.
Wherever you choose to live, it’s going to have a big impact on your budget and your wellbeing, making the wrong decision can really put a damper on your university experience.
As well as living, budgeting comes into play too, moving away from home is a daunting but exciting experience and you need to ensure you’re sensible with your finances.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of all the factors you need to consider before choosing your student accommodation, to ensure you make the right move.
Where Do I Begin With Budgeting?
Being a student can be very expensive nowadays, between student accommodation and general living, the costs can really add up.
The first step in managing your money is to work out a minimum income for the year, if you estimate your student budget before going, you’ll have a good idea of how much you need to save.
Firstly, you need to think about what money you’ll be receiving to give you a helping hand.
1. Student Loan
This includes your maintenance loan and is intended to cover a student’s living costs, its means-tested and based on household income.
The maintenance loan really depends on where you lived before you were a student, with each nation offering different living cost support.
Make sure you get your student finance application in nice and early and make sure you’ve actually received the confirmation, you don’t want to end up out of pocket!
Some students may also be entitled to other financial support such as government grants or university scholarships.
2. Help From Parents
When calculating all of your finances, don’t forget to add any extra your parents may have kindly added to the equation.
Every little helps, and even if your parents give you a little extra towards a nice food shop every now and then, make sure you add it to your finances.
3. Work Income
It might be worth getting a part-time job to help support you during your studies, this won’t affect your entitlement to loans or bursaries either.
After all, if you’re working, you won’t be spending your money, you’ll be earning it, so it really is a win-win situation!
It might be worth popping over to your Students’ Union, who will employ a number of students on part-time contracts.
Don’t forget that job experience on your CV will look fabulous to future employers, another excuse to get a job on the side of your studies if you feel that you have the time for it.
Although this shouldn’t really be treated as part of your income, it could be a good idea to find yourself a good overdraft deal with a student bank account!
Don’t forget that this isn’t really ‘free money’ because banks will charge you interest once you stop being a student.
Make sure you weigh out all the different options carefully before you make any big commitments to bank accounts, do your research!
If you’ve been wise and managed to save up some money, make sure you include this in your student budget.
It doesn’t have to be a massive amount of money, every little helps at the end of the day, and you’re going to be really thankful of that extra money if you’re ever struggling!
What’s My Expenditure?
We understand that this probably sounds all very tedious, but you need to take a look at your essential costs and your variable costs, and you can work out how much you’re really spending. You need to know all of these things in order to budget in the costs of your accommodation.
Essential costs are priority expenses that need to go at the very top of your list, with variable expenses you have a little more control, and it can be much easier to save variable costs.
Let’s take a look at these different types of costs:
1. Tuition Fees
Tuition fees will of course be an essential cost; you need to pay for your education! Assuming you have a tuition fee loan your course fees should be covered in full.
If you don’t get a loan, remember that you’ll have to factor in these payments when thinking about the type of accommodation you can afford.
2. Rent Costs
This is probably going to take a big chunk out of your budget unless you decide to commute from your parents’ house!
A lot of accommodation contracts do include utility bills, but if they don’t, this is another aspect you’ll need to consider when budgeting.
There’s plenty of handy apps about to help you budget, Squirrel will separate all the money you have for the bill and even look after your money by delivering it in monthly installments.
Wally is another firm favourite, and keeps track of your outgoings with a virtual spending diary so you can work out exactly where and what you’ve spent, pretty cool!
3. Food & Drink
If you’re catering for yourself in your accommodation, there are so many nifty ways of saving money whilst studying at university.
We’d recommend cooking your meals in bulk with all the cupboard basics, whether that be pasta, soups, or something a little more extravagant if you’re feeling up to it!
For enthusiastic meal-preppers and students trying to live the healthy life, we have studios and kitchens fitted with modern appliances, allowing you to make a quick and tasty meal in just a few minutes, or throw a dinner party for your flatmates.
We also have plenty of foodie guides on our blog depending on what city you’re living in, with a number of restaurant suggestions guaranteed to satisfy your taste buds!
When choosing the right student accommodation one of the major things you need to consider is the location and whether you’ll need to account for traveling in your budget.
Is your accommodation close to your uni campus, or do you need to jump on public transport? Can you get your weekly shop from across the street or do you have to travel to the nearest shop? Traveling to and from lectures, to the shops or restaurants can take an unexpected amount of money out of your bank account, very quickly!
You need to make sure you’re being as efficient as possible with travel, whether that means buying a Travelcard for bus/train journeys.
If you’re going to drive to lectures, make sure you take fuel into account as well as any other added extra costs of having your own car.
What Are The Different Student Accommodation Types?
1. University Halls
Best For: The Freshers Experience!
If you’re heading into your first year at university, going straight into university-owned halls is probably one of the easiest options you could take, you’re often very close to campus too which is another bonus in terms of commuting.
The downside to university-owned halls is they’re not always as aesthetically pleasing as private halls, or as comfortable.
We’d highly recommend you go for a viewing before choosing to live in university halls, just so you know exactly what you’re going to get!
2. Private Halls
Best For: The Best Of Both Worlds!
University halls tend to offer the essentials you need, whereas private halls really do go all out and offer you a really nice place to live in.
Think games rooms, gyms, cinema rooms, cosy communal areas, private halls really do offer a fabulous experience.
Granted, private halls are usually a little more expensive than university halls of residence, so you really do need to weigh up what you’d prefer.
Private halls usually put all the monthly costs into one lump sum too, making life much easier for students with no unexpected bills draining their bank accounts!
With various different room types from studios to en suite, you really do get so much choice when choosing your private halls accommodation.
3. Private Rented Houses & Rooms
Best For: Privacy And Saving Money
You could take the shared house route with several other students, a great idea if you want to live with your friends in second or third year!
A private house share usually works out as one of the cheaper options, because the cost is spread evenly amongst everyone.
If you do go for a private rented house or room, we’d recommend you visit and research the area first, just to get a general idea of your surroundings!
4. University Managed Houses & Rooms
Best For: Living With Your Mates!
These are properties managed by your university and usually have a pretty standard aesthetic with all the essential facilities.
You’ll need to apply via your university accommodation office and you’ll be added to a waiting list.
Who Will You Be Living With?
Who you end up living with will play a huge factor in your university experience as a whole. You can’t predict this when choosing the right student accommodation but there are still some choices you can make, to ensure you enjoy maximum comfort during your studies.
You can always opt for a private studio where you can live in your own personal space but still have the benefit of a communal area, look for private studios!
Rather that buzzing freshers experience? University halls/private shared halls are probably your best bet, although you’ll be mixing with total strangers at first, you’re bound to have a lot of fun along the way.
Living With Prestige
It really does come down to what works best for you, there’s no wrong choice!
If we’re being just a bit biased, we believe private, purpose-built, student accommodation is your best bet, offering a safe, convenient, stylish base to support you during your studies.
Living with Prestige is easy, with Superast Wi-Fi, water, gas, electricity, basically all the boring adult stuff already included in your payment.
Our luxurious student accommodation really is a level-up from the rest, offering stylish, comfortable living with many perks including gyms and cinemas, if that doesn’t sell you, we don’t know what will!