The Different Types of Student Accommodation – and How to Choose

Trying to decide what type of accommodation to live in next year? Whether you’re a first-year looking for a clue or you’re a seasoned student looking for a change of scene, there are several options open to you. We’ve outlined the gist of each type of accommodation below, along with the key considerations and the main pros and cons.

 

Uni-owned halls of residence

If you’re a first-year, going straight into uni-owned halls is one of your easiest and most convenient options, because it’s arranged through your uni and, depending on which city you’re studying in, there’s a good chance that the accommodation itself will be on-campus or extremely close to it. These types of halls are also usually on the cheaper end of the spectrum – but paying a low price isn’t the aim here; the aim is to get yourself a nice new home for the next year.

Geographical convenience is something that you really do need to go for, especially if you’re going into your first year. You might not think a 40-minute commute sounds too gruelling now, but wait until you get in the swing of things – getting up in the morning for lectures, meeting friends for coffee or drinks on weekends, getting to and from nights out in town, getting to the train station to visit your parents for the weekend or to go on a day trip. The last thing you need is an absolute mission each time you want to go somewhere. Location counts for a heck of a lot.

Most likely, the setup will be that you’ll get a room within a shared flat. In other words, you’ll be sharing a kitchen, a living space, and a bathroom with other students (usually between four and six, including you). Some unis even provide catered options, which is ideal if you don’t fancy channelling your inner Heston Blumenthal any time soon.

The downside to uni-owned halls is that they tend to be no-frills in terms of their facilities and interiors. Some are nice and serviceable, but others are grotty and rundown. Even if the halls look nice on the internet photos, you should definitely go to view them in person before you sign up to live there – it’s crazy how much a bunch of carefully taken photos can differ from what you see in the flesh, and the last thing you want is to turn up to accommodation that looks like a South East Asian Prison.

The key pros: Convenient location (usually – check!); sociable setup; cheapish; arranged through uni

The key cons: Potentially rundown interiors; basic facilities

 

Private halls of residence, AKA private (purpose-built) student accommodation

Where uni-owned halls tend to offer the bare essentials, private halls go the whole hog – the good ones do, anyway! – providing you with state-of-the-art facilities and more perks than you can shake a stick at. And by perks, we don’t mean super-fast Wi-Fi and communal TVs – those should be givens in any decent student residence nowadays. Think gyms, games rooms, cinema rooms, stylish communal areas, comfy study areas, free on-site social events (like pizza nights, themed parties, etc.).

Cinema room

Of course, good private halls are more expensive than uni-owned halls, but, like anything in life, you’ll get what you pay for. Time for a fast-food analogy: if uni-owned halls are medium-sized McDonald’s meals, private halls are those towering Five Guys burgers that come with those crazy soft-drink flavours and those overflowing cups of fries in those huge brown paper bags. One does a job, whereas the other goes above and beyond to present something worth shouting about.

A good provider will put all the monthly costs into one lump sum for you, so that you don’t have to juggle bills or go through the trouble of organising your own providers. Your rent, your utilities (including broadband), your maintenance, and your contents insurance will all be taken care of without you having to do anything – again, if the provider is any good.

As for your living quarters, there could be several options to choose from, depending on the provider:

  • An ensuite bedroom within a shared flat (which you’ll share with between three and five of your fellow students) – this is the most common one, and is great for making new friends and having a laugh
  • A studio for just you (including a kitchen area and a bathroom) – this is also a common one nowadays, and is perfect if you like your own space or you need peace and quiet for your uni work
  • A dual-occupancy studio or flat (i.e. for couples to share) – this is a rarer option that you’ll only get with certain providers or in certain residences, but is great if it’s applicable to you

 

Another big advantage to private halls is the quality and stylishness of the furnishings, and the overall aesthetics of the interiors. That might sound a bit superficial, but it’s not: thoughtful interior design can make you happier and more productive, both of which are key to you enjoying your time at uni and achieving academic success. Surely that’s worth a few extra quid a month, in the long run?

 

As for location, this can vary depending on the provider, but the best student residences are just short walks away from uni campuses. Having those super-duper facilities in your accommodation is all well and good, but if the catch is that you have to travel for ages to and from uni – or to and from everything in general – then it’s probably not worth it.

The key pros: Modern facilities; luxuries included (e.g. gyms and cinema rooms); stylish interiors; convenient location (probably – but check!); easy payment; sociable setup

The key cons: More expensive than most uni-owned halls

 

Private flat-share (or on your own)

Uni-owned halls and private halls are the two most popular student-accommodation options out there, but they aren’t the only options. You could decide to swerve halls-style accommodation altogether, opting instead to privately rent a regular apartment, in which you could either share with another student or live by yourself.

This type of accommodation gives you independence and the freedom to live how you want to, within reason, in your own space away from everybody else – if that’s what you want. You may be able to buy your own pieces of furniture and use those (although landlords will vary on their policies when it comes to furniture), and you may be able to redecorate the apartment in certain respects to suit your own taste (again, though, different landlords will have different policies: some allow tenants to personalise the decor, whereas others strictly forbid it).

Do bear in mind that private renting has its headaches and bureaucracies. Basically, you’ll have to sort everything out yourself: liaising with your landlord (or their letting agent), making sure all the paperwork is filled out, staying on top of your various monthly bills and payments, maintaining the flat and cleaning it to the landlord’s standards, and buying household items as and when you need them.

If you think you’ll have a good handle on all of this, great, but if you’ve never lived on your own before, you’re probably better off opting for halls – where you get your independence but there’s less responsibility and fewer hoops to jump through.

Another big element of private renting is the cost. Yes, private student accommodation is expensive, but it gives you value for money and all the monthly costs are nicely and neatly presented in one or two lump sums. With private renting, the monthly rent figures can vary greatly depending on the property and the location, from the suspiciously cheap to the outrageously expensive.

The key pros: Independence and a ‘real adult’ feel; your own space; flexibility re. furniture and decor (potentially – check)

The key cons: General admin and logistics; less sociable than halls; potentially expensive and can come with hidden/unexpected costs

 

Private house-share

Another private-renting route you could go down is sharing a full house with several other students (usually between four and six of you altogether).

As with renting a private flat, you will have to arrange this yourself, or as a group if you and some mates are planning on living together. Again, you’ll have to deal with landlords and letting agents, fill out forms, arrange your utilities and other bills, and maintain the place with regular cleaning and general care. There will be more of you to split these duties between, though, which makes it slightly easier.

A private house-share usually works out cheaper than a private flat does, because the cost is spread between more of you. If you’re an especially organised group, you could even chip in collectively for the weekly food shop and thereby save a bit of money each (more nights out, anyone?), but this is much easier said than done, and might not be worth the hassle in the end!

Of course, there are student houses and then there are stewdent houses. Many of them are old Victorian and Edwardian houses, and the problem with properties this old is that they can be cold and damp (an absolute nightmare in the winter), not to mention susceptible to general disrepair. They’re not all bad – some are well-maintained and lovely – but be extra-careful when you go to viewings. Double-check, triple-check, quadruple-check, take your time looking round for potential problems, and use your nose – if it smells a bit musty or damp, then it is musty or damp.

Also consider the area. What’s that like? You’ll get a good idea of this when you go to view the house, but go back at nighttime and see what it’s like once the sun goes down. Student houses tend to be located in the rougher areas of their cities, which means that break-ins are a very real possibility. And this is one of the biggest downsides of private house-shares in comparison to halls and even private flats. With the other options, you get certain (albeit varying) levels of security, whereas houses are easy targets for burglars. Wondering whether your MacBook or bike will still be there when you get home is not a nice feeling.

The key pros: Potential to split costs; sociable setup; good level of independence and a taste of adult life

The key cons: General admin and logistics; age of the property – i.e. potentially cold, potentially damp; general security

 

Make your decision on which type of student accommodation to go for

Ultimately, it comes down to what setup works best for you. There’s no wrong choice as long as you’re happy and you feel genuinely comfortable in the accommodation you choose.

As you can probably guess, we think that your best bet is private, purpose-built student accommodation like ours. It’s comfortable, it’s stylish, it’s safe and secure, it’s convenient, it’s sociable.

Beckley Point

Living with us is easy: each month, you pay one single figure for everything – water, gas, electricity, broadband, contents insurance, bike storage, parking, general maintenance, a weekly kitchen-clean, access to the laundry facilities, access to the gym, and access to all of the other on-site perks. You get the picture. All you need to sort out for yourself is your food.

Sound good? Take a look to see if we have a student residence in the city you’ll be studying in. We hope to see you soon!

5 Reasons to Get a Summer Job – and How to Impress Employers

Job search

So you’ve got through a whole year of uni and come out the other side. You’ve battled freshers’ flu, you’ve powered through the cold winter months, and you’ve endured the heartbreak of sitting in the library as the weather outside has become gradually warmer. But you’ve made it. Summer is finally here, all the hard work has paid off, and you’ve finished the year with a positive outlook. Now what?

Do you book yourself a summer getaway and chill on the beach with a nice cold beer? Or do you go home and spend some quality time with your family? Regardless of what you choose to do, you’re going to need a bit of extra cash to make it happen, and there’s no better way to do so than landing yourself a job throughout the summer months. If you’re still not convinced, our top five reasons to get a summer job will have you scouring the web for available positions in no time at all.

 

  1. It Boosts Your CV

When you finish your degree and start looking for jobs that will kickstart your career, potential employers will be on the lookout for certain skills that tell them you’ll be able to do that job. You might be wondering how you’re supposed to demonstrate this when you haven’t had a job in that field before, but summer positions give you the opportunity to utilise key skills that will transfer to a range of roles.

Whether you get a summer job in your desired industry or you choose to go for a part-time role in retail or hospitality, you’re telling potential employers that you can work as part of a team, that you take initiative when necessary, and that you are a reliable and trustworthy member of staff – not to mention that these roles will prove to employers that you’re dedicated to your personal development to the extent that you’ll work when you don’t necessarily have to.

 

  1. It Builds Your Confidence

If you’ve gone through uni without securing a part-time job and have instead focused solely on your studies, you might not know what it’s like stepping into a new environment and tackling a task that is completely new to you. Securing a job through the summer months will give you a taste of working life, which allows you to develop an understanding of how you should act in a work environment.

This will take the edge off when you do come to start a job on your chosen career path, because you will have already learned how to handle certain situations, making you a more confident employee. This is great for you, because it will help you to settle into future jobs more easily, and it’s great for your employer, because it assures them that you will be a productive member of staff.

Confidence

 

You’ll Gain and Maintain a Sense of Independence

Uni is a time where you will learn how to be independent and look after yourself. Out of the watchful eyes of your parents, you’ve got to cook, clean, and manage your money. But when the summer months arrive and you find yourself back at home, it’s easy to fall into the trap of letting your family take care of you again. This can undo all your hard work, making settling back into uni life difficult when you return.

Although you probably won’t have to deal with bills and food costs, a summer job gives you the opportunity to manage your finances, making sure you stay on top form. So when you do return to uni, you’ll be able to start the year right – and you’ll maintain that positive, productive mindset that we were talking about earlier on.

 

  1. You’ll £arn Some Ca$h Money

The best thing about the summer is that you can use the time to focus on yourself. Whether this means working on your personal development, or just enjoying yourself, the summer months are more for you than anything else. Whatever you choose to do, you’re going to need some money to do it. You might want to go on holiday with your friends, or you might want to go to a couple of music festivals while you don’t have to focus on your studies – either way, you’ll need money to do it.

Not only is it nice to have money to spend on things, but you’ll also have the opportunity to manage your finances. A summer job might be your first taste of a stable income, and knowing what to do with the cash – whether this is saving it or spending it – is an essential skill that will help you in life.

Money

 

  1. You’ll Hone Your Interview Skills

We mentioned earlier that summer work gives you the skills to stand out from the competition when it comes to securing your first full-time job. But the process of applying for a summer job is also good practice for when you do finish your degree and you start looking for permanent roles. You will gain an understanding of how to tailor your applications to meet the employer’s needs and to highlight your most relevant skills, as well as giving you good practice in interview situations.

Job interviews can be a daunting process if you’re not too sure what to do; you might wonder what the employer is going to ask you, and whether you are answering the questions right. The best way to learn how to deal with tricky job interviews is by doing them, which will set you up for interview success further down the line.

 

Focus on Yourself

Securing a summer job is just one way to give yourself a headstart when it comes to your future career. The summer months are a time for focusing on yourself, and if you’re on the lookout for more ways to develop yourself and get the most out of your time as a student, our blog is packed with useful tips to help you get by.

 

8 Reasons to Study in Newcastle

Newcastle

Way up in the North East, you can find the (in)famous city of Newcastle: the unofficial party capital of the UK, and Rough Guides’ Best Place to Visit in the World in 2018. With some of the best universities in the country and world-class nightlife, Newcastle is the perfect place to call home throughout your studies. But if you need a little extra convincing, we’ve put together the top eight reasons why you should study in Newcastle.

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