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Student accommodation in the UK

There’s a wide range of accommodation options available to students in the UK, from university-owned halls to houses, flats and privately operated residences offering luxury studios and shared apartments

How comfortable you are with your living conditions can make all the difference to how well you do in your studies and how much you enjoy yourself socially. If you’re coming to study in the UK from abroad, finding a place to stay before you come to the country will make your arrival easier.

Arranging accommodation

You should start arranging your accommodation as soon as you have accepted a place on a course. Staying in temporary accommodation initially is all very well, but you may miss out on the best student places and struggle to make friends.

Most universities and colleges will send you an accommodation information pack before you arrive. It will not only provide information on, and application forms for, using their own accommodation but should also give some local information about reputable landlords and letting agents.

You might also contact your country’s embassy or high commission in the UK and talk to their student officer. They should be able to give you some advice.

If you’re already in the UK and looking for somewhere to live there are many letting agents to talk to, although they will charge a fee. You can, of course, also check out sites such as this one to search for student property across the UK.

Prices vary greatly for the types of accommodation available and where they are in the UK.

Student accommodation comes in two main types:

  • university/college-owned accommodation
  • privately owned accommodation.

Whatever your choice, you’ll find that UK institutions have an international students’ officer who will be able to help you find accommodation. Many institutions can guarantee accommodation for you in your first year of study.

Institution-owned accommodation

University/college-owned accommodation can either be in halls of residence or in offsite houses and flats.

Halls of residence

This is the most common type of residence. Halls are large buildings that house many students. They are often split into corridors of six to eight rooms, which are usually single, but the cheaper option involves sharing with another student.

Most of the newer halls contain rooms that have their own shower and toilet, called ‘en-suite’. If not, then the corridor will share bathroom facilities and possibly a kitchen. There is always a telephone nearby whether in the building, on the floor, in the corridor or, in some of the newer halls, in each room.

Many halls are catered, providing morning and evening meals. This can be good value, although meals are sometimes quite basic and may be different to what you are used to in your home country. The other option is self-catering where you cook your meals yourself in a shared kitchen. Many halls also provide a cleaning and laundry service.

Being in halls is usually the best option for your first year. You will be on campus and therefore close to your studies, and it is easier to become involved with the social life that goes on there.

Most universities guarantee a place in halls to first-year international students to make your arrival and integration as easy as possible, but you may have to move off campus after your first year.

University flats or houses

These are very much like self-catering halls of residence, but are usually off-campus and further away from your studies. You do your own cooking, cleaning and laundry, pay the bills for rent, heating and lighting. They are best for when you have met some friends and are happy to live together, maybe in your second year, and allow you more freedom.

Private-sector accommodation

The private accommodation sector offers students a number of options:

Privately owned student residences

Luxury, purpose-built student residences like those featured on this site are becoming increasingly common in student cities across the UK. These blocks offer sleek and stylish en-suite rooms and studios with modern furniture and stylish colours, along with a number of communal areas and facilities. Bills, TV and Wi-Fi are usually included in the cost, and there is often a dedicated on-site management team.


Sometimes referred to as ‘lodgings’, this involves renting a room in a family home. The landlord/lady will live there, and you will probably have to share the bathroom and kitchen. Some will treat you like a member of the family, cook your meals, and do your laundry for you. Others will expect you to do so yourself.

You are unlikely to have as much freedom in homestay accommodation, as you will have to obey family rules and habits, such as being quiet in the evening and at night and keeping your room and the rest of the house clean. Lodgings can, however, be very good for giving you support and local knowledge though.


Short for house in multiple occupation, an HMO is a property rented out by at least three people who are not from one ‘household’ (for example, a family), but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’ or a ‘bedsit’. As the people in each bedsit may not have any connection to each other it can be quite lonely if you don’t become friends with your fellow residents, but you do have more privacy than in lodgings.

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