The Ultimate Guide to surviving in halls at university

Living on your own away from your parents for the first time can be a little intimidating. For some, moving out of your family home can be exhilarating! You can now live independently without having to follow any house rules. You get to live how you want to live. For others it may be a little harder, which is why I have come up with everything you need to know about surviving halls.

Whether you are in halls in your first year or your third year, all these tips should come in handy!

What are halls of residence?

Halls of residence can either be on campus or off campus university – owned student halls, or private halls that may be off campus. They can consist of a range of different rooms and floor plans. Starting with the amount of people you will be living with, your flat could have 4 – 12 people who all share a kitchen/ 2 kitchens. Some halls will have an ensuite and some halls have communal bathrooms (like you are living in a house with them).

Alternatively, if you still wanted to live in halls but did not want to live with other students, you could get yourself a studio or a twin room if you had a friend you wanted to stay with.

A common myth people believe about university and private halls is that you are better off in university halls. This is totally not the case! A lot of private halls have links with the universities. This means you will still get freshers reps in private accommodation helping you move in and get settled in freshers’ week. They will still be letting you know of any events going on each day, and you will receive the same information as the students in university halls.

Some private accommodations will have a common room with a pool table and table tennis. Private halls may offer monthly events like a summer BBQ or a themed party night in the common room. So, you are getting everything (and sometimes more) that the university halls have if you choose private accommodation.

How much do halls cost?

The cost of halls will depend on lots of different things. It will depend on the size of your room, the location of your flat, how modern your flat is and whether you have an ensuite or not. If you go for a studio these will almost always be more expensive.

Be sure to check out the difference in price of university halls compared to private halls. For example, in 2020, university halls were on average £130 a week and one of the private accommodation halls (for the same standard flat – shared bathroom) was £110 a week. So, it was a massive difference and well worth going private.

Is this the best option?

I would recommend you stay in halls first year, whether this be in your own studio or in a flat of other people. This way you will be able to meet people more easily. Being able to make friends at university is made so much easier when you live in halls.

TIP: Remember everyone is in the same situation as you. So, knock on people’s doors and try and start conversations!

The first question you need to ask yourself is do I want to be on campus or off campus? If you are off campus, you may only be a 10-minute walk away. Which may be more ideal. You might be closer to the town centre which may be more suitable for you. Some accommodation might be a 45-minute walk for you and if you like your lie-ins then waling 45 minutes to university for your 9am lecture might not be the best decision!

The next thing you need to check is where the nearest supermarket is to your ideal halls of residence. You might even choose your halls based on this. If your closest Tesco or Aldi is a 50-minute walk, then you have to think about whether it might be an idea to get your food shop delivered instead of walking it with heavy bags.

You will also need to check if your student finance will cover your rent. If it won’t then you will need to reduce your budget when looking for suitable halls.

What are the halls like?

The price of halls varies because the standard of halls can be very different. The cheapest halls may have slightly older decor just because they are in the oldest buildings. If you look at any of the new build halls, they are all extremely modern. So, it is up to you which vibe you want to go for. Sometimes the older builds are much more homely, so it is worth checking out both types.

Again, the bathroom situation is different in all halls. Some bathrooms may be like little aeroplane bathrooms whereas some might be like a block of toilets at the end of the corridor. I know sharing a bathroom can be a massive part of the type of halls students chose so be sure you look into this. Sharing a bathroom isn’t as bad as it sounds… I have been there. It will also be cheaper to share so the choice is yours.

Some halls will have common rooms. These rooms sometimes have games tables in them, and it is where a lot of parties/pre-drinks can be held. I believe that a lot of the newer halls even have gyms in them! But of course, this comes with a higher price tag.

What should I bring with me?

If you are wondering what to bring with you when you start packing for university then check out one of our previous posts: University Checklist: What to take to uni

There may be things that you never thought of bringing such as a door stop. A lot of graduates recommend you take a door stop when you first move into university halls as it means you can just pop your bedroom door open. It makes it more inviting when your flatmates want to speak to you.

Flatmate tips:

  • Get to know your flatmates – these strangers could be your new best friends! A good tip is to try and find your flatmates beforehand on social media so you can have chats. Things like whose bring what appliances in the kitchen will be a good place to start.
  • Invite them out – make plans and book tickets for freshers’ week with your flatmates to get to know them better.
  • Learn how they live – your flatmates may live completely different lives to you, so you have to work around each other.
  • Set some boundaries and rules. E.g., A cleaning rota or simply clean up after yourself.

Room decor tips:

  • Candles are a big no for most student halls – but you can use fake candles that look very similar.
  • Use command strips instead of blue tack – putting up photos and posters is a great way to make your room feel comfortable but make sure you do not ruin the walls, or you will get charged,
  • You can move the furniture around as long as it goes back where you found it at the end.
  • Fairy lights are an iconic uni room addition – or any type of lights
  • If you want to make it more homely you can use rugs or lamps.

Things you should know:


Wi-Fi is most commonly included in the price of the flat. Wi-Fi is essential for your university work so the halls Wi-Fi is normally a decent speed so that you can do your work easily.


If you bring a TV with you, you will also need to purchase a TV license. If there is a TV in the common room, the TV license is usually included in the cost of the flat. Of course, if you want to stick with Netflix, you do not need to pay extra for a TV license so it is completely up to you if you feel like it will be worth it or not.


Each of the halls will have different policies on whether you can bring guests into your flat or not. Some accommodations may say you can only have 2 guests in the day and 1 guest to sleep over. They may also be a guest book that you need to use. They put rules like this is place so that no one stays as a guest in halls for a long period of time for free. Normally they slack a little on the rules so you will have to check this out before you go. Some halls will have no rules at all on this.


In university-owned halls, pets are not allowed. So, I would not recommend trying to get your pets into halls.


Your deposit will be kept safe by halls. You will be given an inventory sheet when you move in that you need to fill out ASAP. You will need to know if anything in your room is already broken or scratched so that you have a record of it. This means you will easily get your deposit back at the end.

Final Thoughts

If you are going to move into halls of residence, then make the most of it! Halls can be the best part of university. You can get to know new people not only form your flat but in the flats around you. Living away from your parents and with totally strangers can get hard at times so if you need a break just take the weekend to go back home and reset.

Your flatmates may do questionable things or have a completely different lifestyle to you, but you have to take everything with a pinch of salt and go along with it.

In extreme circumstances if you really aren’t enjoying it, you can ask to be moved or you can look on the Facebook group chats to see if anyone is moving out of their flat so you can move in.

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