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Tips on Renting in London: Student Halls VS. Student Accommodation

When renting in London, most students would like to choose an apartment close to school with higher security. However, after getting an offer, many students and parents get confused about the fact that there is a distinction between student halls and student accommodation in the UK.

What factors should you consider when renting in London?

When choosing a residence, people mainly focus on the following factors: safety, location, price, and social environment. 

1. Safety

Finding a safe place to live is a priority for students studying abroad. Especially when you live alone, staying away from ethnically complex and disadvantaged communities can protect your life and property security to a certain extent.

2. Location

The location of the residence is also a significant part. If the residence is too far away from the university, even though you have plans for self-study, you may give it up because of the distance. Moreover, if you live too far away, daily shopping and going home on time would be difficult.

3. Price

Studying abroad is already expensive. Therefore, many students will carefully calculate the cost of the rent. After all, finding cheaper houses means less financial pressure for them.

4. Social environment

In addition to classrooms and libraries, student halls and student accommodation are also great places to make friends.

Student accommodation around Queen Mary University
Student accommodation

What are the differences between student halls and student accommodation?

1. Concepts

You can only file applications to university halls through the university official, since management rights belong to the university. Moreover, due to the large number of applicants, there is a chance that not every student who applies can be assigned to their dormitory.

As for student accommodation, it can be applied by students themselves and is managed by a certified apartment group. Under the same conditions, the environment and management of student accommodation are better than that of university halls, and they have the same requirements for tenants, who must be a full-time student with a student visa. From this point of view, the management model of student accommodation is more like that of hotels.

2. Room types


Student halls are basically divided into single (including shared bathroom and kitchen), en-suite (including shared kitchen, independent bathroom), and studio (including independent kitchen and bathroom). The interior decoration is also relatively simple.

Similarly, the main types of student accommodation are en-suite (shared kitchen, independent bathroom) and studio (independent kitchen and bathroom). Some accommodations also provide studios with private balconies.

3. Living condition

College life is quite busy. It is common to forget to clean up public spaces for weeks when it comes to the final term or thesis season. Then, what kind of student services are available for both types of student residences?

University halls: Once you move in, you must do everything yourself. Not only do you have to clean your room, but also you have to take turns on duty if there is a public area. Some halls also check the use of rooms regularly. So when you meet a lazy roommate, it’s either you have to fight against him/her, or clean the kitchen all by yourself to maintain the hygiene of the shared kitchen.

The reception hours in many student halls are pretty short. So it is possible that you lose packages or take the packages of others by mistake. What’s more, if you forget to bring your keys or lose them in the evening, you may have to stay overnight in the library or sleep on the street without reception’s help.

Student accommodation: many student accommodations offer a full range of services, including cleaning, delivery, and some even provide free breakfast and dinner.

In addition, student accommodation usually has a 24-hour on-duty service, solving problems at any time. The living environment is the same as a hotel.

4. Locations and distances

Student halls: Most universities in the UK have no fixed campus; teaching buildings and libraries are scattered in a certain section of the city. If you are choosing the hall, be sure to carefully check the map to see if the chosen hall matches the campus.

For example, the distance between the campus of a university in London and its nearest student hall is 1.1 miles (1.8 km), about 20 minutes’ walk. It turns out that students who are lucky to be assigned here choose to walk up and down to school, and they can reach the school as long as they walk through four or five parks.

Unfortunately, most students assigned to a hall 1.7 miles (2.7 km) away choose to take the bus. Most students choose the subway or bus for a further one that is 2.0 miles (3.2 km) far away. There are few people who walk off to school because there is only one way to run through the whole road with boring scenery, making it a time of suffering for the walkers.

Student accommodation: Accommodation locations are also divided into good ones and bad ones. Student accommodation are generally invested by real estate developers, who often have the greatest financial resources to occupy the best position. Suitable housing can either be found near the school or in the city centre.

For example, a student accommodation is built next to the largest shopping centre in a district of London, where you can go shopping or order all kinds of takeaways while lying in bed. In addition, many of the accommodations sit directly opposite the school gates. And it takes no more than three minutes to rush to the classroom when you live across the university.

Remember the fact: student accommodation may not be the cheapest, but it must be the closest.

As a friendly reminder, walking to and from school is possible in residences within two miles or so, but residences further away are not recommended for safety concerns.

5.Costs and prices

Student halls: All we can do is apply for the hall, the final decision is made by the university. After applying, the university will assign you to a hall closest to the price you can afford. For example, if you fill in 200 en-suites when applying, you will be allocated to the hall with corresponding conditions.

In general, the costs of university halls are slightly below the market price. Furthermore, university halls will also give a favourable price for their own students.

Student accommodation: The price is relatively high. The residential environment of student accommodation is obviously more comfortable in terms of decoration and finishing; besides, the long working hours of the staff guarantee a large proportion of customer satisfaction.

Of course, with the increasing competition in the student residences market, private student accommodation also has the demand to attract students by lowering prices appropriately. On holidays or at the beginning of a term, student accommodation will offer discounts from time to time. As long as the timing is right, you can also find nice accommodation at a reasonable cost.

6. Social environment

University halls: The environment is complicated and basically depends on the public facilities of the school. British international students come from a wide range of countries and have various personalities. If you are lucky enough, you can meet like-minded friends. But if you are out of luck, it is possible to have roommates that are noisy and unsanitary. Once you file the application, it’s in God’s hands.

Student accommodation: You can choose an apartment according to your preference. What’s more, if you have friends nearby, you can cook together to make life more convenient. And if you are to trying to integrate into new groups, accommodation with a majority of British students would be your best choice. Student accommodation is provided inside social venues, film rooms, etc., and most of the accommodation also organizes weekly socialisation activities.


When renting in London, student halls and student accommodation present distinctive characteristics, and you can choose a residence that is more suitable for you according to your preferences.

FAQ on Renting in London

Determining whether a student house is cheaper than halls is not a straightforward comparison due to the multitude of variables involve. Ultimately, the option hinges on the individual’s specific circumstances, including their budgeting preferences and desired amenities.

Halls of residence often bundle utilities, internet, and sometimes meal plans into a single fee. On the contrary, private student accommodation may present lower upfront monthly rent but require additional budgeting for utilities, internet, and furnishings, potentially leading to variable monthly expenses.

The choice between living in halls or private accommodation largely depends on individual preferences and priorities. If one values convenience, predictability in expenses, and a straightforward budgeting process, halls of residence may be the better option.

As of the last update, the average rent in London varies widely depending on the area and the type of accommodation, but it generally ranges from £1,250 to over £3,000 per month for a one-bedroom flat.

To rent in London for the first time, it’s crucial to research and understand the market; start by exploring various neighbourhoods to find one that suits your lifestyle and budget. Next, ensure you have all the necessary documentation, including proof of income, identification, and references, to streamline the vetting process.

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