Finding the perfect student accommodation makes a HUGE difference. It'll be your home! Where you'll focus on smashing your coursework, plotting your next steps or hosting amazing end-of-term celebrations. It needs to be right. How else will you make those memories and boss those assignments?

If you're planning to live away from home there's lots of info to process and options for every situation. So let's take a look!

What are my options for accommodation after my first year of university?

Student house share or shared flat

This is probably what springs to mind when you think of student life. Grab some of the mates you made in the first year, find a house that's big enough for all of you, and get to work on making it home.

This is a super exciting option, and for thousands of students, it'll be their first experience of their own "real" house or flat that isn't managed by their university. If you're in a "student city" with multiple universities, the odds are there are looooads of options. 

Pros of living in a shared flat after first year

  • Independence and choice: You can choose where you live and who you live with, maybe for the first time! Different locations have different benefits, so you can pick somewhere that has everything you want. 
  • Loads going on: Most student rentals are in "student areas" of your city, so there'll be plenty of events and heaps of socialising to do with people from all walks of life, not just other unis.
  • Wide range of price: If you want to save money, you can get something a little less fancy or up-to-date and spend your money on what you want.
  • Added extras! Some student letting agents offer extra services and perks to make student life a bit easier, like free wi-fi!

Cons of living in a shared flat after first year

  • Sorting your bills: Some student properties might come with bills included, but not all of them. You also might not be able to pick and choose which services you get. Check out our student bills guide so you know what to do!
  • Budgeting: You probably haven't paid for everything yourself before. Bills, rent, food, transportation, clothes,'ve got lots to pay for and money will be tight! Thankfully our amazing friends at Accommodation for Students are here to help with their student budgeting tips.
  • Housework: You and your housemates need to keep things clean and tidy, for health reasons, and friendship reasons, and so you get your deposit back! You'll all have different habits and standards, and you'll need to sort those out to make sure you stay friends.
  • Food: Sorting your own meals three times a day, seven days a week gets old, fast. Not to mention the amount of dishes! You need a strategy for this to make sure you stay healthy and focused on your studies!

Halls of Residence

Student halls aren't just for first-years! They are an easy, straightforward option when you're dealing with living away from home for the first time, not to mention the other massive changes that come with uni life.

But you can also live in Halls of Residence for your whole time in uni, if you like. Whether they belong to your uni, or you pay more for private halls, it can be an accessible, easy option for lots of people.

Private halls often have added extras if you're feeling bougie. 

Pros of staying in halls of residence after first year

  • All of your living expenses in one payment
  • Sometimes there's a cleaning service
  • Catering options at some unis
  • Usually easy to get to campus
  • Usually way more accessible than private homes

Cons of staying in halls of residence after first year

  • Potential to be super first-year focused, which isn't for everybody.
  • Lots of activity, events and buzz which isn't ideal for dissertation deadlines
  • Can be pricier than private renting

How to find the right house

Ask the experts!

You're not the first student to need somewhere to live. There are loads of people in your situation every single year, and so there are some amazing services to help!

  • Accommodation for Studentshas plenty of options for student housing from landlords all over the UK.
    • Whether you need one bedroom or seven. It's a great example of a super helpful student accommodation service.
    • They've also teamed up with Fused to offer a super easy student bills package with your house, so sorting your student housing is even easier!

Ask around your university!

Find out which areas of your city are the most and least expensive for student lettings, which ones are closest to gyms, supermarkets, your uni campus or anything else that's important to you. Your home will have a huge impact on your mental health and your success at uni, so be picky!

Always see it in person and ask the previous tenants, if you can

Always visit your potential student flat in person, rather than going on pics from the agent. It might be smaller or darker than it looks in pics, and there could be other problems too! If it's recently been painted, that could be a sign of a well-maintained property, or it could mean there's a mould problem being covered up! 

You could also pop a note through the door if the current student tenants are still there. Ask them what the house is like and if they'd recommend it. Pop your uni email or other contact info on there so you can get insider info 👀

Start looking for next year as early as possible

The pressure is on to find a group of friends to live with, and this guide is absolutely not going to add to that. DO NOT WORRY if you don't have things figured out for next year. There are still plenty of options, even if you leave it until last minute. You can still find a great place to stay.

That said, if you're fortunate enough to have a super-organised group of close friends, you can find hidden gems if you start your hunt early.

Emma from Coapt in Brighton says: "We start getting enquiries for the next academic year an entire year before! Most properties are advertised from November the year before, but organised groups start their search before this."

Agree budgets and other stuff before you start looking, and get in touch with local letting agents - they're there to help!

If you've found people you'd like to live with (this is the hardest part, and not everybody does, not worry if you're not in this situation...), you need to all get on the same page about what you want to pay and where you want to live. This will save drama later.

Emma from Coapt says: "Agree budgets, location, and your property must-haves early! And then register with local letting agents so they can send you alerts when properties that match your requirements come up!"

Don't be scared to negotiate or ask for what you want

"It's a common mistake to assume the landlord will not negotiate. If you're interested in a property, but would like something changed, for example, a new sofa, just ask! Agents can always put in a request to the landlord," says Emma from Coapt. (She answered tons of our questions, she was super lovely.)

What you need to pay up front for your student house

  • Deposit

    • If you're renting privately, you'll need to pay a deposit to the letting agent or landlord, which you'll get back at the end of your tenancy, so long as the property is in the same condition it was when you got it.
    • You might also need to pay your first month of rent in advance, depending on your letting agent's policies.
    • Get the deposit back at the end of your tenancy with our handy guide! 

  • Hidden costs to look our for

    • Unless you specifically rent a bills-inclusive student house, your bills aren't covered in the rent! This will be super obvious in how the place is advertised, as well as in the contract. 
    • Check the price of flats or houses you like against similar ones in the same area. Some will be over priced, or have features and extras you don't want to pay for. 
    • If you live in a student city, the odds are there are tons of places for you to stay, not just in the centre. Everything is way more expensive in the city centre, so if you can stay further out it can save you a lot of money every month - sometimes hundreds.

How to avoid housemate drama

There's a whole guide on how to tackle some common student house arguments, but there are some big things to sort out before you even move in.

How to choose your bedroom in your shared house 

  • If there's one obviously amazing bedroom, that maybe has extra features like an en suite, or just heaps more space, it might be fair to weight the rent so that the person with that room pays a bit more each month.
  • If the rooms are basically the same and nobody can decide, you can use a random name picker to decide who gets each room.
  • If you have a really strong preference, don't be scared to speak up! You might feel resentful of the person who got it, and that's a recipe for drama!

Other stuff to keep in mind when choosing your room:

  • A downstairs room is probably going to be noisier as people come and go, and you might get less privacy, but it also means you're closer to the kitchen and the wi-fi router for better snacks and signal.
  • Being on the top floor means more stairs and maybe a worse wi-fi connection, but you get heaps of privacy and people will bother you less because you're further away. Perfect if you have an intense year of study coming up.
  • An east-facing window is perfect if you want to get up early, or you're a morning person anyway, but if you love a lie in it's probably not for you!

Fused is a service designed to help during the intense uni years, and the team has tons of wisdom to share. Check it out:

Guide to student bills

Guide to student broadband

How to pay your student bills