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The Pros and Cons of different types of student accommodations

Choosing the right student accommodation is a pivotal decision for any college student, as it can significantly enhance or detract from your university experience. For many, university dormitories are the first choice due to their proximity to campus and the built-in student community they offer. In this guest post, we’ll delve into the advantages and disadvantages of living in university dorms, helping you make a more informed decision about finding studio student accommodation in Liverpool, London, Glasgow or anywhere in and around the UK.

Main Types of Student Accommodation

From private student halls that offer modern amenities and a sense of community, to the independence and diversity of private residences, each type of accommodation caters to different needs and preferences. Here are the main types of student accommodation you can find around the UK:

University Halls of Residence

Owned and managed by universities, these accommodations are usually on or near campus, offering en-suite or shared facilities, and catered or self-catered options.

Private Halls of Residence

Managed by private companies, these halls are similar to university halls but often come with more amenities like gyms and game rooms, at a higher cost.

Private Rentals/Residences

Houses, flats, or apartments rented from private landlords, popular for offering independence and often shared among students to reduce costs.

Studio Apartments

Self-contained units with private kitchen and bathroom, available through universities or private landlords, ideal for those seeking complete independence.

Shared Houses (House Shares)

Houses in residential areas adapted for student living, where students rent rooms and share common areas, offering a mix of independence and community.

Family Stays (Homestay)

Students live in a room within a local family’s home, providing a supportive and homely environment, often including meals, suitable for younger students or shorter stays.

Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA)

Complexes specifically designed for students, featuring a variety of living spaces and communal amenities like study areas and high-speed internet.


1. University Dormitories, Halls of residence or “halls”

Pros of University Dormitories

1. Convenience

Living in university dormitories offers unmatched convenience. Most dorms are located on or very near the campus, which means you can easily walk to your classes, the library, and other university facilities. This proximity can be particularly beneficial for freshmen who are still getting accustomed to the campus environment and may not yet be comfortable with commuting.

2. Community

One of the standout benefits of dorm life is the immediate sense of community it fosters. For new students, this can be an essential aspect of college life. Dormitories are designed to support social interactions, from shared living spaces to organised social events. This environment helps students meet and develop friendships with peers, which can be crucial for personal growth and academic support.

3. Inclusivity

Most dormitories are equipped with the basics that any student needs to live comfortably, including utilities like electricity and water, basic furniture such as a bed, desk, and chair, and sometimes even a meal plan. This inclusivity makes moving in simple and convenient, as students do not need to worry about the logistics of setting up a household from scratch.

Cons of University Dormitories

1. Privacy

Privacy can be a significant concern in dormitories. Many students will find themselves sharing a room with at least one other person, which can be a challenge for those who are accustomed to having their own space. Additionally, facilities like bathrooms and laundry rooms are often communal, which might not be ideal for everyone.

2. Restrictions

Living in a dormitory comes with a set of rules and restrictions that might not appeal to all students. These can include, but are not limited to, rules about noise, visitors, and even room decorations. Such restrictions are necessary to ensure a communal living environment remains comfortable for all residents but can be seen as a limitation by those who value personal freedom and flexibility.

3. Space

Space is often at a premium in dormitories. Rooms can be small, especially in older buildings, and students will need to get creative with storage solutions for their belongings. This cramped space can be challenging, particularly for students who bring a lot of belongings with them or acquire more as the semester progresses.

2. Private Accommodation

Pros of Private Apartments

1. Independence

One of the most significant advantages of living in a private apartment is the level of independence and privacy it offers. Unlike dormitories, where you are likely to share a room and have communal facilities, private apartments typically provide your own space. This environment can be particularly beneficial for students who value solitude or who prefer to study in a quieter setting.

2. Choice

Private apartments come in a variety of locations, sizes, and styles, giving you the flexibility to choose an apartment that suits your personal preferences and lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for a studio near downtown or a two-bedroom apartment in a quieter suburb, the options are plentiful. This variety allows you to prioritise what’s important to you, be it living closer to entertainment hubs or having a spacious living area.

3. Long-term Viability

For students who anticipate being in the same city for several years, such as those pursuing lengthy degree programs or planning to work locally post-graduation, private apartments can offer a stable living situation. Unlike dorms, which you may have to vacate during summer breaks, an apartment can be leased year-round, providing a permanent base throughout your college years.

Cons of Private Apartments

1. Cost

Generally, private apartments are more expensive than university dormitories. This is because you’re often responsible for paying for utilities, internet, and other household expenses, which can add up quickly. The financial burden can be a significant drawback for students who are not yet financially independent or who have a limited budget.

2. Responsibility

Living in a private apartment involves greater responsibilities. You’ll need to manage tasks such as paying rent on time, dealing with leases, and interacting with landlords. Additionally, if you have roommates, navigating relationships and household duties can sometimes be challenging. These responsibilities can add a layer of stress, particularly for younger students unfamiliar with managing such duties.

3. Distance from Campus

While private apartments offer more choices in terms of location, they can also be located farther away from your university campus. This distance can lead to higher transportation costs and more time spent commuting, which could be inconvenient and potentially disruptive to your study schedule and social life.

3. Shared Rental Accommodation

Pros of Shared Houses

1. Cost-effective

One of the most significant advantages of living in a shared house is the cost savings. Rent and utility expenses are split among multiple residents, which generally makes shared houses cheaper than renting a private apartment alone. This can be especially beneficial for students with limited budgets who still wish to enjoy some level of independence.

2. Social Environment

Shared houses often foster a family-like atmosphere, where you live with a small group of students. This setup can facilitate a supportive and fun environment, as housemates often become close friends. The shared living situation encourages collaboration and can lead to lasting friendships, enriching your student life.

3. Flexibility

Compared to dormitories, shared houses typically offer more freedom regarding house rules. There’s usually more leeway in making decisions about living conditions, decorations, and hosting events, which can make you feel more at home and in control of your living space.

Cons of Shared Houses

1. Maintenance

In a shared house, the responsibilities for cleaning and maintenance are distributed among the residents. This can lead to conflicts if not everyone is committed to contributing equally. Managing chores and ensuring the house remains clean and orderly requires cooperation and sometimes negotiation, which can be a source of stress.

2. Privacy Issues

While shared houses offer more privacy than dormitories, they still require sharing spaces like bathrooms, kitchens, and living areas. This arrangement means less privacy than living alone, and it can be challenging for those who value their personal space and time.

3. Variable Costs

Although generally cost-effective, the utility costs in shared houses can fluctuate based on overall usage. This variability can lead to unpredictability in monthly expenses, which might be difficult to manage for students on a tight budget. Discussions over utility use and how to split bills fairly can also become a point of tension among housemates.

4. Dedicated Student Lettings

Pros of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation

1. Designed for Students

PBSAs are tailored specifically to meet the needs of students. These accommodations typically feature a variety of study rooms, libraries, gyms, and sometimes even cafes and movie rooms. The design and layout of these buildings are intended to support students’ academic and recreational needs, making them a highly attractive option for those who want a living space that complements their student lifestyle.

2. Security

One of the primary benefits of PBSAs is the level of security they offer. Most of these accommodations are equipped with modern security measures, including CCTV, secure entry systems, and sometimes 24/7 security personnel. For students and their parents, this aspect can provide significant peace of mind regarding the students’ safety.

3. All-Inclusive

PBSAs often include all utilities and amenities in the rent. This all-inclusive approach simplifies budgeting for students, as they do not have to worry about unexpected utility bills or the costs associated with amenities like the internet, heating, and gym access. This feature makes financial planning more straightforward and can help students manage their expenses more efficiently.

Cons of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation

1. Higher Cost

While PBSAs offer many conveniences, they can also be one of the more expensive housing options available to students. The higher costs are attributed to the extensive amenities and services provided. Students on a tighter budget might find PBSAs less accessible due to their higher price point compared to other types of student housing.

2. Less Integration with the Local Community

Another potential drawback of PBSAs is that they can isolate students from the broader city or town environment. Since these accommodations are specifically designed for students and often located in proximity to campuses, there might be fewer opportunities for students to interact with local residents or immerse themselves in the local culture and community activities.

3. Limited Personalisation

Rooms in PBSAs tend to be quite standardised and may offer little opportunity for personal touches or customisation. For students who wish to create a more personalised or homely space, the uniform nature of PBSA rooms might feel restrictive or impersonal.


In the diverse landscape of student accommodations, each option presents its unique set of advantages and challenges, tailored to different student needs and lifestyles. From the communal vibrancy of university dormitories and private student halls to the independence afforded by studio apartments and private residences, the choice of where to live is a fundamental one that can profoundly influence your university experience. Shared houses blend cost-effectiveness with a familial atmosphere, providing a middle ground between privacy and social engagement, while purpose-built student accommodations offer unparalleled convenience and security at a premium. Ultimately, the decision hinges on personal priorities such as budget, desire for privacy, need for community, and the length of stay at the university. By carefully considering these factors, students can select the accommodation that best supports their academic journey and personal growth, ensuring a fulfilling and productive university experience.