Soon-to-be university students often find themselves asking the question: Where will I be happiest living in my first year of university; halls or house?

You’ve probably received housing advice from everyone under-the-sun. You’ve heard it all before: “You won’t experience university properly if you don’t live in halls of residence”. But halls don’t look anywhere as nice as some houses you’ve been eyeing up online, and they’re not nearly as cost-effective.

What should you do? Pay over the odds to live in student halls for that shot of having the “university experience” that everyone keeps banging on about? Or, save yourself a bunch of money, have the option to choose your housemates, and have the complete freedom of renting a student house?

Whether you’ve found yourself scrambling for last-minute student rooms following university clearing, or you’ve hit a dead end and you’re still not sure where to live, our guide should help you get some clarity of the world of private student housing.

So, what are the benefits of choosing a shared student house?

You’ll be more independent

You’ll quickly learn how to pay bills, cook meals and clean your house – among other “adult skills” – unlike your hall-dwelling friends who will probably still call reception every time they run out of clean cutlery.

You can pick who you live with

Instead of living with people you have nothing in common with or don’t enjoy being around (which can be a risk with halls), you will be able to choose the people you live with. As a first-year student, this can seem a daunting task. Chances are you don’t know anyone else going to your university, but, our find a housemate tool is always on hand to find the perfect living partners.

You will be more keen to get involved in societies

As you’re living with fewer people in your student house than you would in a halls of residence, you’re likely to be more determined to meet more people. Instead of kicking back and waiting for people to come to you, you can branch out, be brave, and expand your friendship group yourself.

Whilst taking matters in your own hands might seem a bit scary, you must remember that everyone else at university is generally in the same boat. So, turn up to the freshers fair, sign up to some societies, and start making your own friends!

You’re likely to get fewer distractions

With fewer people running around making noise into the early hours of the morning, you’re likely to get a bit more peace and quiet when you really need it. There’s no risk of experiencing that 3am fire-alarm set off from a burnt midnight snack, or a neighbouring flat party keeping you up all night long. When deadline day and exams inevitably come around, you’ll be well-rested and better prepared to tackle the day.

Location is important

It’s always tempting to choose the biggest or best house you can find, but often you’ll sacrifice a good location for the sake of a little extra space. And don’t forget, that in the winter you’ll have to spend more money to heat the whole place. A forty minute walk from the library might sound like a breeze, but come Monday morning when it’s raining hard, you may not be so keen to attend your lectures.

Student hubs

There are usually student-orientated residential areas in most university cities. It might be worth trying to stick to these. There's a reason they're so popular - they're generally quite safe, and there's usually a good pub or two nearby!