What student accommodation options are available in the UK

What are student accommodation options in the UK?

This article was published by the Great British Mag content team on 17 March 2022.

Once you accept your university offer to study in the UK, one of the first things you’ll need to think about is where you are going to live. Luckily, there are a lot of good options for student accommodation in the UK, so here’s a step-by-step guide on your options.

Private houses or flats

In the UK there is always a good supply of houses and flats near universities. This option may suit you if you want to live with your friends or are moving to the UK with your family.

You may choose to rent a whole place or take a room, which is called a flat or house share, and could mean you end up sharing with students or even locals. This option will mean you have to find the property yourself. More often than not you will also have to pay the bills, such as water, gas and electricity, and sort out things like the internet. 

Finally, you will have to liaise with a private landlord. But don’t worry, there are a lot of protections for tenants in the UK, such as the Tenancy Fee Act, which means that deposits are capped at five weeks worth of rent.

University and Students’ Unions often provide lists of approved estate agents and landlords where you can find private houses and flats to rent. 

Pros to a private house or flat


Cons to a private house or flat


Living in a house or flat is a great way to fully immerse yourself in living in the UK and getting to know the locals, helping you to immerse yourself into the local culture. 


Neighbourhoods that are most convenient for your commute to university might be expensive. 


There is greater privacy and you can save money by cooking at home. 


In most cases you will be responsible for all bills and maintaining the property, including the garden, if it has one. 


You will have greater privacy and can choose to live by yourself, which will provide a calmer, tidier and quieter environment.


If you don’t live with other students it might be more difficult to make friends which could lead to loneliness.


How do I sort out student accommodation before university starts?

Well, it depends what you’re willing to pay and how much you might compromise in getting what you want. If you want to meet new people and don’t mind sharing communal spaces with others, halls are the best way to go. If you want privacy and don’t mind living off campus, try renting privately.

The best way to find out is to set a budget, figure out what kind of student accommodation you want to live in and then do your research. Your university will have an accommodation team that can tell you what the university can offer. There are also websites that can help you find student accommodation in major cities around the UK.

What is the deadline to apply for student halls?

If you’re planning to apply for university hall accommodation, it’s important to know the deadlines. Unfortunately, each university’s deadline is different so we can’t give you an exact date, but it’s usually between May and September, before the school year starts in October. For example, UCL’s deadline for undergraduate students is 31 May, but it’s 31 August if you’re studying at the University of Manchester. The best way to find out is to check your university’s website.

You will usually be required to fill out some forms in your student accommodation application. If you’re having any trouble, you can get in touch with your university’s accommodation office.

What happens if I miss the deadline to apply for student halls?

The best way to know what to do if you miss your university’s student accommodation deadline is to check with your university. You will be told which department to contact for questions about arranging accommodation. 

For example, the University of Bath’s deadline for guaranteed student accommodation is 1 July. If you miss it, you cannot apply until applications open again on 21 August. You will then be added to a non-guaranteed waiting list, which means you may miss out on university accommodation. If that’s the case, you will need to think about looking at privately-rented halls or private houses/flats.

Do some student accommodations include meals? 

Some student halls have the option of choosing accommodation that’s catered, which means there’s a  dining hall or communal area offering food at scheduled times.

Living with a host family

If you’re looking for a home away from home, have you considered living with a host family? There are numerous websites that can pair international students with local host families, depending on what they need. You’ll need to fill in an application to help narrow down what you need and then you’ll be presented with some options that best match. For example, you can choose to stay with a host family that offers meal plans like breakfast, a packed lunch and dinner. Or you can go with the self-catering option, where you have full access to the host’s kitchen.

How much does student accommodation cost in the UK?

According to research, the average monthly spend for students in the UK is £807. More than half of that (£437) goes to rent. It then goes: groceries (£92), going out (£49), transport (£44), takeaways (£34), household bills (£32) and clothes/shopping (£31). You also need to consider phone bills, course materials and holidays.

One of the most important things you can do is work out a budget before you start looking for your accommodation, as costs can vary a great deal. This means meticulously planning out what rent, bills and general expenses you may be hit with. For example, student accommodation in London – which is one of the most popular cities for international students – can start from £100 per week and go all the way up to £1000.

Are bills included in the rent?

One of the main things to check is what is and what isn’t included in your rent. You will find that things like internet, gas, water and electricity are covered in the rent you pay when you opt for purpose built student accommodation, whether that is provided by a private landlord or your university. 

However, when you rent a flat or house you will often have to pay for the internet, electricity, gas and sometimes you will will need to pay the bill for water and the household may also be liable to pay Council Tax,  if you live in a home where some of the people work and some are students. 

You may also want to read

How to report a bad landlord

Do students have to pay Council Tax

How to sort out problems with housemates