Cooking on gas: modern shared kitchens such as these at the University of East London await first-year students in halls


One of the most exciting and daunting decisions a student will make at university is what their living arrangements will be. Most students experience the three most popular living options available to them over their three years of study: slumming it in student halls, squandering student loans on expensive rental houses and staying at home to scavenge off the parents.

From naked bearded men running across roofs in rowdy halls to exchanging stern words with police officers called to student houses due to questionable herbal smells drifting into neighbouring gardens, each living option has its advantages and drawbacks.

Firstly, if you’re considering living in halls of residence then be sure to pack your hand sanitizer and a pair of ear plugs before moving in. Bottles of conquered spirits, cider and six pound Prosecco will adorn the shelves in your room like sporting trophies, drum and bass will keep you awake til the early hours of the morning and leftover pizza boxes will be a constant sight in the communal kitchen purely for the delectation of the local vagrant population – mostly made up of freshers with hangovers.

There is hardly a dull day when living in halls. Club promoters pace around from building to building like predators and the on-site bar will usually be open til late most nights. If you have no plans for the evening then relevant accommodation Facebook pages will cure you of your predicament. Just beware of your stuffy gate wardens gatecrashing your perfectly civilised soirees – they can’t resist a good party.

Student housing is the accommodation option usually taken by students in their second year. Once you’ve lived for a year in halls, only the brave will stay partying amongst the fresher’s for a second year, the rest of us decide that we’re sensible adults who want to rent out a spacious house away from the trivialities of the young and hapless freshers. Yet it hardly ever works out like this. The areas you move into are almost always rundown and inhabited by students young and old - with the occasional mugger thrown in for good measure.

A common problem when renting is not opting to have the bills included in the monthly price of the property. Tenants may be perfectly comfortable whacking on an extra £50 to their monthly bills when signing the initial contracts, but beware of additional chargers incurred at the end of the year. Companies will usually pile these onto your bill at the end of your stay like some kind of twisted surprise to celebrate the end of your academic year.

If neither of the above options sound preferable to you, then it may be best to live at home wherever possible. Living at home is very difficult to adjust to once you’ve had your freedom for two years. Aside from the obvious advantage of not eating pot noodle every day because you have access to a fully functional fridge, the constraints of living under your parents roof can be hard to handle.

The trophy bottles of spirits and leftover pizza that used to line the walls in halls are suddenly replaced with your mother’s china plate collection and packets of Aunt Bessie’s roast potatoes. Whilst your friends are out at the latest club night in town, you find yourself sat in your bedroom with the sole company of your cat, a pile of textbooks and an ever decreasing desire to live – but your grades will soar.

In short, if you’re comfortable with incessant noise and naked bearded men straying across your path every now and again, then halls or residence could be the choice for you. Similarly, if you, like me, are far too comfortable with this notion then you may want to consider living at home under the stern supervision of your parents with finals looming. Student housing on the other hand is merely expensive, often located further away from your campus and a hotbed for crime and surprise charges and bills.