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Student House vs Halls of Residence: Which Should You Choose?

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As you prepare to enter the university, whether for the first time or returning for your second or third year, fees and academics won't be the only things on your mind. Your student accommodation comes into the picture, and you will be weighing your options: whether to stay in the university halls of residence, or go for private rented student housing.

You may have already sampled life in the university-owned halls and depending on whether your experiences were positive or negative, may want to consider your options again. 

If you're undecided, here is a run-down of the two main student accommodation options, alongside their pros and cons, to help you make the right choice.

Halls of Residence

As a first-year student, or an international student, the university will likely offer you a place in one of their large halls, under the university's management, or in partnership with a private entity.

Most student halls comprise of individual furnished bedrooms with large numbers of students sharing bathrooms and kitchens, though en-suite rooms are now gaining popularity. Some halls also take the format of studio flats with kitchen, bedroom and living area all in one, providing more choice for students who want something more out of their university accommodation.

If you will be staying away from home for the first time, the university halls of residence can be quite appealing. The cost includes all bills, although not always extras such as internet connection. It’s also easy to apply for them since it's done directly to the university online.

When it comes to basic quality and standards, you'll generally have nothing to worry about since they have to comply with national codes, and the university accommodation team is there to attend to any maintenance needed.

But this convenience comes at a cost. To begin with, you don't get to choose who to live with, who will be in the bedroom next to you, or who you will be sharing a bathroom and/or kitchen with, and can get quite tricky if you don't get along well with others on your corridor. If this happens, you will have to prepare to tough it out, or seek to move into alternate accommodation. 

Here is a summary of the pros and cons of halls of residence:


  • Thrust in with many other students, it’s easier to make new friends, and enjoy the rest of your life in campus.
  • All bills are included in the rent, so you won't have to worry about paying the extra cost.
  • Since they are on or near campus, you can access your classes and other student activities conveniently and easily.


  • You can't choose your immediate neighbours or who you’ll be sharing bathrooms and kitchens with
  • Not the best if you love privacy and quietness – lots of activity and noise from fellow students all day long – and night
  • There can be many inconveniences, such as a false fire alarm going off in the dead of the night.
  • Sometimes more costly than private accommodation if you factor in additional facilities.

Private Student Houses

It provides the best alternative for those who want to escape the challenges of the big university student halls. And talking about challenges, nothing can be worse than a fire alarm going off several times in the dead of the night, whether a false alarm, or just other students getting their kicks.

Private student housing allows you many liberties. If you’re returning to university, you can choose shared accommodation with the friends you made in your first or second year in campus, or your course mates. This means that you have the liberty to choose who to stay with, which bedroom you will be taking, and you can do a good job selecting fellows that fit well into your lifestyle.

Renting a small student property also affords you the freedom to invite your friends over at any time since there are no limitations on visiting times, as is often the case for university halls. You won't lose out on your friends, and the general student culture when you opt for the student house option - especially if you go for popular areas like along Ecclesall Road in Sheffield, where a large proportion of the houses on the side streets are converted into student accommodation, creating a student community In every way as vibrant as the ones at the big halls.

Student houses on Ecclesall Road also have the advantage of close proximity to Sheffield's 'Golden Mile' which is jammed with one of the most diverse range of bars, coffee shops, and restaurants in the country, making it a great area for socialising - oh and there's Endcliffe Park to hang out in too when the weather's right.

You can also turn your student house into a real home with your own kitchen and living area. This would ensure you don't use those common areas shared by people who may not be your friends.

Another area student lets excel in is the flexibility of their costs. You can always find a house that fits your budget, ranging from very cheap, through to extravagant budgets for high class accommodation. This is something you won't get in university halls, since everything is bundled up in a rigid price bracket, and any extra costs incurred when renting student housing can be a small price to pay for nine months of peace and comfort.

Here is a summary of the pros and cons of private landlord student houses:


  • Fewer distractions and disruptions, such the fire alarm going off several times in the middle of the night.
  • They teach you be independent – you will learn how to pay your bills, cook your mills, live with and new people.
  • You can choose who to live with – your first year course mates, current university friends, or make new friends at the private house.
  • Flexible cost – you can find one that fits your budget.
  • Offers privacy and peace of mind for those who prefer keeping to themselves.
  • Friends can come and visit without restrictions.


  • May be more expensive than halls, especially if you want exclusive or upmarket features.
  • May not be near your campus, but most good private accommodation is located within notable student areas, with excellent and well established like-minded communities.



University halls of residence may be conveniently located on or near campus, but they have limitations that might make you rethink your options. If you value your privacy, peace of mind, and want to find a home that more fits around your personal needs for your time studying in Sheffield, you may consider taking up accommodation through a reputable student letting agent. 

Many more answers to questions about making the move to a Claypenny student flat or house can be found here.

Please contact us for more information.


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