Are you pursuing your degree abroad, having a student exchange program, or an ex-pat that is looking for a place to stay? Are you curious or confused with the differences, pros and cons between student accommodation, flatshares, and co-living?
Well, we have gathered all that information for you in one blog post!
The duration of rent for student accommodation is usually 52 weeks, starting in September. It could be shorter in a few cases. The most common types of student accommodation are studio or en-suites. However, it tends to be on the more expensive side. Dorm and twin rooms are the to-go options for a rather more affordable budget. But sometimes the budget is not everything isn’t it? More factors should be considered to ensure the best value student accommodation. Here are more pros and cons you should take into consideration when looking into student accommodation:
Practicality. For example, a lot of student accommodations tend to be located near the uni itself. Furthermore, some unis even provide catering which could be a saving grace for a lot of students. You also don’t need to pay bills separately unlike a lot of normal residences.
There are large common spaces that are functional and beneficial for students outside of their room (e.g. studying spaces, lounge, game rooms, some even have cinemas. These normally don't come in a normal apartment.
Make friends! One of the best benefits a student accommodation could offer would probably be the chance it gives for students alike to make friends. Especially, if you’re a new student in a new country and knows no one. It’s a great place to meet those who are in the same boat in student accommodation. Student accommodations often run events where you could meet fellow students that are in your building.
Safety. Security and receptions are two things a lot of regular flats don't have. Therefore, there’s always someone who can help you in case anything happens.
Normally it comes fully equipped (i.e. dressers, table, chair, bedding pack, etc). There is also a kitchen that you will either have for your own or shared with the people on the same floor.
Expensive. Compared to renting a room in normal flats, student accommodations are at least almost twice as expensive depending on the type of the room. Your budget needs to start somewhere at GBP 1,200 for an en-suite, GBP 1,500 for a studio. You usually also need to pay upfront.
Noisy. There’s a stereotype that if the majority of the student accommodation are undergraduates, it’s not rare that people have issues and complain about the noise. While it is a stereotype, this one is quite an accurate one.
Dirty. The bigger problem than your room is the communal space like the kitchen that you have to share with some other people, normally those who are on the same floor. Cleaning and maintaining it often becomes an issue for a lot of students.
Personal living space is limited. A lot of student accommodations are twin-room which means there are two beds and you’ll be sharing your room with another person. Not everyone is up for this. Especially if you have to do it for months. It’s not rare that roommates don't get along because of different habits and behaviours.
Length of stay is less flexible. Normally, the rent contract would be for 52 weeks and if you decide to take a holiday (i.e. summer breaks, Christmas holidays, etc), you would still need to pay your rent.
Socialising is definitely the biggest advantage you would have through living in student accommodation. Especially if it’s your first year. Tons of undergraduate and some postgraduates students think it’s the ideal place. However, a lot of them move out of student accommodation after the first year. Mainly because of comfort and hygiene.
The second biggest advantage would be practicality which is why it is still a popular choice for those who're doing summer internships from June till September. Since they’re only staying for a relatively short time, practicality tends to be a priority for them.
Regarding cons, the biggest one would be the cost - it’s expensive.
Firstly, apartments and flatshares are not necessarily the same thing in the UK. Click here for further details. Renting a room in a flatshare is generally more flexible. From the durations, amenities, types of space, etc. Here are the critical pros and cons worth considering in regards to flat-sharing:
Cheaper. Although it might not be the case for every apartment, you tend to find better deals. Flats could be significantly student budget friendlier - cheaper. However, there are a few extra things you might need to know and do when renting a regular flat. Click here to see our London Housing Guide!
WFF Facts: You can get something from GBP 700 but if you’re willing to increase your budget slightly to GBP 950+, you could get something quite nice and often with your own bathroom.
Freedom. Some student accommodations have curfews.
More space! Regular apartments tend to have more space than student accommodations and it’s not necessarily more expensive either - in fact, often quite the opposite. Regarding kitchen and bathroom, it’s often shared between the people you’re living with.
WFF Facts: Rooms in flats vary from single- or double-rooms, en-suits from small to large. One flat is usually shared between 3-5 people.
Flexible rent duration. AST contract lengths can vary between 3 months to 12 months while student accommodations contracts are usually based on the academic year. Shorter stays are also available from 1-3 months.
Weekly or bi-weekly cleaning available (usually in price included). It is an option that you could include or opt out of. However, some places don’t include this. You could hire some though.
It’s going to be harder to make friends with other fellow students.
Harder to find. It could be especially tricky if you don’t know the housing jargon and laws in the particular place (i.e. country, city, etc).
Less communal space. Although there might be rooftops and lounges, there won’t be ‘student specific’ spaces like studying spaces, game rooms, etc.
Fewer ‘extra’ amenities. By ‘extra’ we mean like bedding stuff, towels, and small decoration items or extra furniture. Flatshares tend to have almost everything such as bed, wardrobe, desk, chair, etc. You could also find unfurnished apartments if that’s what you prefer. Generally, apartments have fewer amenities but you could find one with more amenities too like those with dryers, dishwashers, etc.
WFF Tips: Flats could be furnished in several ways, unfurnished, partially-furnished, or fully-furnished.
Flatmates. It is in 99% of the cases way easier to move into an existing flatshare and to rent a room there than searching as a group. The likelihood that a room is available is exponentially higher than an entire apartment that comes with all the furniture and meets all the requirements of the group in terms of price, location, features, and style. If you can, consider being open to making new connections and look for rooms in existing flatshares. Yes, there is a small risk that you don’t get along with your flatmates but there is also the chance to make new friends.
The biggest advantage flats offer you would probably be flexibility. You could get super basic accommodation if you have a tight budget and a fancier place with tons of amenities if you are willing to spend more.
However, since you share with others, hygiene might not be the main benefit.
A new type of renting: Co-living
This is another living option that is gaining popularity. A co-living space is a place created in regards to making an intentional community for people with similar values and beliefs. You can expect a lot of communal events and activities happening like yoga classes, dinners, and more. Co-living spaces are usually furnished, have common spaces, and amenities are all included - yes, that means cleaning too.
So pros and cons really depend on your preferences and budget. There are also co-living spaces which are a blend between the both and tend to be quite stylish with lots of great shared facilities. The budget would be around GBP 1,300 for a double room (decreases slightly if you stay 10+ months).
In conclusion, there is really no good or bad type of place to live necessarily. It’s just about preferences and some suit one more than the other. Therefore, ensuring you know what you want regarding accommodation is critical. Get yourself educated on the housing market because there are a lot of differences!