Studying in London: Halls vs House Shares

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The application process of university can be daunting for some people, especially when you’re applying to study in the capital. You’ve sent your UCAS application and are waiting for your Track to update with a response that pioneers your future. Whether you’re planning to study a subject allied to medicine, which was most popular amongst women with 226,420 applicants or looking for a business and administration degree which most men were drawn to, totalling 154,720 submissions — there’s a lot you must consider when making the move.

We’ve teamed up with the Oxford Tube, an affordable London to Oxford coach that will be the perfect place to take a break from the busy hustle of London, to find out the cheaper alternative for up and coming Londoners — halls or house shares?

Using the Student Accommodation Survey of 2015, that questioned 6,000 students and is the largest of its kind, we found out some astonishing figures that will help give new students a greater insight to living in London.

*57% of students asked lived in halls of residence —meaning that they are overrepresented in the survey.


The majority of students who are moving away from home will automatically think about university accommodation and not take into account any alternatives — even if they are cheaper. Moving into accommodation is all part of the student lifestyle and there are many benefits of this, including the easiness of making friends within the university and that most of them are on campus or close by.

After analysing the survey carried out, we found that 55% of undergraduate and 61% of postgraduate students were satisfied with their living arrangements. However, a sharp increase in dissatisfaction showed that 19% of undergraduates were dissatisfied with their accommodation which was 7% increase on results from 2012.

It was also found that 15% of postgraduate students were not happy with their chosen halls of residence, which was a 2% increase on 2012.

When we delved further into the report, 27% of respondents said that cost was a problem — ultimately proposing the question, are students getting what they pay for? Common complaints surrounding university halls were related to plumbing, water and heating problems at 25% but it must be made clear that these problems should be fixed by the accommodation itself.

Other complaints included unfriendly staff, the size of the room, poor internet connection, cleaning services, pest infestations, location, flatmates and fire alarms — which are notorious after a drunken night out.

The average cost of accommodation in London ranges with room type and whether you opt for catered or self-catered. Using University College London (UCL) 2018/19 accommodation fees as a guideline, a singled catered room would range from £173.88-£180.67. If you wanted to go self-catered, this would be priced around £165.69-£242.62 depending which of course is dependent on building type and location.

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House Shares

Not many new students think about moving into a house share straight away, as the default is usually halls of residence for the majority of students as this is the traditional route of going to university. However, with the finer financial details coming into play — saving as many pennies as you can has become vital for prosperous students.

From the same survey, when it came to shared flats/houses in London, 55% of undergraduates and 60% of postgraduate students were satisfied with their accommodation. But were the expectations for students upheld when they moved into their flat? Well, looking at results from 2012-2014, dissatisfaction increased by 4% for undergraduates and 5% for postgraduates.

When looking to see why they were dissatisfied with their housing, the landlord seemed to be a common problem — which became the foundation of where other problems arose including damp, mould and size. London’s landlords are notorious for charging extortionate rates for small living spaces, which is probably why ‘people’ came up as a common student complaint, small spaces mean that you might be too close to comfort with people — all of the time.

When looking at what students were paying for their rent, almost four out of every ten were paying less than £125 per week, which excluded all bills. The majority of students from this survey, accounting for 31% said that they paid £126-£150 each week. This was soon followed by 26% that said that they paid £100-£125 each week.

However, this differed when it came to different groups of students. As average rents can increase due to London’s high rents— we found that students from the UK paid an average of £134.08. Students from the European Union found themselves paying £140.43 and non-EU students were paying £150.35.

The decision

You can’t make a decision like this lightly — you need to carry out extensive research that brings in multiple external factors that impact you financially. You also need to consider how you’re going to afford everything — if you’re getting out a student loan, will this cover it?

Although this can be a daunting process for new students, it’s something that you must look at confidently. You don’t want to miss out any important necessity’s — work with the mindset of what your financial situation will be.

As there are different options when it comes to university accommodation — which type will be better suited to you? Alternatively, if you go for a flat share — are you prepared to pay for bills that may not be included in your weekly rent, and put up with the landlords?

Not only that, you must consider transport. University campuses are usually close to the university accommodation — so make sure if you do go for a flat share, you’re close by. Of course, all of this does come down to personal preference but making sure that you’re happy with what you have it vital.

Best of luck with your university adventures — although finances are important, it shouldn’t be the end of the world.

As we end this article, here are some of the move-out essentials that you must have that everyone usually forgets:

  • Bottle opener
  • Batteries
  • Measuring jug
  • Cutlery
  • Crockery
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Jeremy Kaplan

A 50-something year old lifestyle, career, and education blogger based in Atlanta, Georgia. Years of experience in the office setting working with others and still loving it year-after-year.

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