We’ve written before about your best options for student accommodation, but that piece is directed more at undergraduate students—newcomers to university.
But what if you’re a postgraduate student deciding to extend your studies? Does the accommodation game change for you?
Your options are essentially the same—private rentals vs university owned halls, but there are few more things to think about now that you’re a little older and wiser.
Here are 6 things to consider about living in halls as a postgraduate student.
1. What’s your budget?
By and large, halls are a little bit more expensive than private rentals on average.
This isn’t always the case of course, as prices vary from city to city, country to country, and university to university.
While modest private rentals are often cheaper, they demand a large deposit up front (6-8 weeks usually). You also have to cover your own bills for electricity, internet, heating etc.
If you plump for halls, your bills are included in the overall cost, and the security deposit is usually lower than for private accommodation.
In short, halls are more expensive long term, but less expensive up front. And you don’t have to worry about leaving the lights or the heating on!
2. How much convenience do you want?
How much time and effort do you want to spend on finding a place? How convenient do you want your living arrangements to be?
Searching the rental market for a place to live can be time and effort consuming. Finding the right apartment or the right room in a house takes some trial and error, while finding the right mix of personalities to live peacefully can be a challenge.
However, registering for a room in halls is a pretty fuss-free approach. You’re simply assigned a room and the rest takes care of itself.
Plus, all your facilities and amenities are provided for and are close at hand. So you don’t have to spend money on things like furniture and kitchenware.
3. Do undergraduates and postgrads live in the same halls?
This is probably the most important thing for you to find out. Some, but not all, universities have separate halls of residence for undergrads and postgrads.
But if your university puts both groups together, ask yourself: Do you really want to live with a large number of younger, less mature, and much more excitable students?
Would you prefer to be with people at the same life stage as you, or are you happy to hang around and impart your worldly wisdom upon the first years??
Will you even be “down with the kids” anymore???
On the other hand, if you’re set to be placed only with other postgrads, are you happy with that? Or would you prefer to live with people from different backgrounds?
All food for thought. And speaking of food (kind of)…
4. Which amenities are shared with others (and what quality are they)?
...Will you be sharing a kitchen and cooking utensils (and a lounge and a bathroom) with dozens of other students?
Halls differ from place to place, but the majority have communal bathrooms, lounges and kitchens. The upshot of this is that these facilities are usually of a high quality. The hot water rarely goes cold, and there are often cleaners hired by the university to keep things spick and span.
Having shared kitchens and living areas is also a great way to meet people and socialise, but it does have its downsides:
Say you feel like making dinner at six o’clock. You go to the kitchen and lo and behold, someone is cooking up a storm and a queue is forming. It’s the little things like that which leave you with slightly less freedom than you might want.
It’s not all bad though—play your cards right in those situations and maybe you’ll get a free meal cooked for you!
5. How much do you value your personal space?
This ties in directly with the above. Sure, your room will be your haven, and will usually come with a desk and maybe even a nice chair or sofa to lounge in. But outside of that, how much personal space will you have? Halls rooms are often quite small, and as mentioned above, the lounge and kitchen are usually to be shared with a dozen or more others.
To an extent though, the same question applies if you rent a private room in a shared house or apartment. It’ll just depend on how close you are with your roommates.
6. Do I really want to have to sign visitors in?
Most university halls have pretty tight security, which is a good thing overall. But the downside is that many require visitors to be officially signed in at reception, while some don’t even allow overnight stays from friends.
It’s worth finding all this out, particularly if you’ve been lucky enough to meet a special someone at uni, or if a friend from home wants to visit you and spend the night.
Thinking about studying a postgraduate degree abroad? Take a look at the range of fantastic courses offered by our partner universities.