One of the most exciting things about going to study at university is living in a new place. You get the chance to have your own space, and meet some new people too! Here’s what you need to know to get settled.
This Know-how library guide is sponsored by the University of Huddersfield.
What do you need to think about first?
You’ll need to start looking for accommodation before you start your degree – you wouldn’t want to turn up at university on your first day hoping to find somewhere to live! Here are a few things to consider long before you put down a deposit or sign a contract.
Finding a suitable location can really impact your university experience, so think about what matters most to you.
If you live close to university or on campus—which is usually the case if you opt for student halls—you might be able to walk to your lectures and spend less time and money on transport.
On the other hand, if you choose to live further away, transport may be more costly but accommodation may be cheaper. You might also be able to live in an area you prefer to the one your university is in, like a greener setting or a convenient high street location.
“My accommodation at Storthes Hall Park is located outside of the town centre. It’s in a peaceful location with a great view from my bedroom window. It feels like a home away from home and the on-site events help to make you feel part of a community. “
- Asfar, DIGS Storthes Hall Park, Huddersfield
If you’re looking for private flats, you’ll also need to start looking for places earlier on in the year: we go over this in our guide here.
The price of accommodation can look daunting at first, but there are options available to help you with affording rent.
If you’re a student from the UK, you’re most likely eligible for student finance in the form of a maintenance loan. The amount you receive is based on factors like your combined total household income and ability to support yourself whilst at university. These loans need to be repaid once you complete your degree, but only when you start earning about £25,000 a year—and even then, it won’t be a huge amount each month.
Additionally, many universities offer financial assistance in the form of grants, which you don’t need to repay. Grants can be awarded based on merit if you demonstrate strong academic potential. Some are also means-tested, which means that you’re eligible if your household income is low. You can find this using the student finance loan calculator on the gov.uk website (see ‘Good stuff from elsewhere’ below).
In some circumstances, students can seek scholarships, grants from educational trusts and charities around the UK. Your students’ union should be able to give you advice and help with this.
Working out a budget will help you make sure you can afford your accommodation costs, which may include rent, utilities, and maintenance.
According to a report by Save the Student in 2023, your rent could cost around £300 at the lower end (it’s £289 on average in Belfast and £340 in Huddersfield, for example) to £856 (in London) per month. As you can see, variation across the UK is huge, so check out the average accommodation prices for your university or its local area to get a feel for how much yours will be.
“Another reason why I chose to study at Huddersfield is the cost. The cost of living in Huddersfield is generally much lower than neighbouring cities. From nightlife, to accommodation and your weekly food shop, it’s really affordable.”
- Emily Oates Garner, student, University of Huddersfield
Some student housing providers, like DIGS in Huddersfield, offer inclusive weekly rents that include utility bills, internet, contents insurance, and gym membership. Having everything included in your weekly rent will help you to confidently manage your finances and you can budget the money that you have leftover.
Think about whether your maintenance loan from student finance can cover expenses like groceries, books, entertainment, and travel to and from home or the campus – alongside rent. Rent should be one of your top priorities, so it may be worth setting aside the money for this or aiming to pay your rent as soon as possible, once you have the means to do so.
“To monitor your spending, I would suggest creating a budget planner. Without a visual tracker, it’s easier to spend money in instances where you don’t need to.”
– Jenifer Starling Babu, student, University of Huddersfield
Where can you compare different options?
Once you’ve decided what you’re looking for, you can begin the process of actually finding options for accommodation.
In most cases, you’ll receive information about university-owned accommodation as soon as you confirm your place. You’ll likely have an application deadline for guaranteed accommodation, so make a note of this as soon as you receive it.
If you’re feeling eager, you can always check the university’s website in advance to get an idea of what’s on offer. Some universities give virtual tours of their accommodation on their YouTube or social media channels too.
Living in halls of residence, either managed by your accommodation team or a local provider who works with your university (like DIGS in Huddersfield), means all of your bills will be included and you’ll likely meet lots of fellow students more quickly. Your halls also are likely to have added benefits like on-site security and events – for example, DIGS runs events from parties to craft workshops and sports games.
That said, halls can sometimes be more expensive than off-campus options. To help you decide, check out our guide to choosing the right university accommodation.
If you’re looking at private rentals and want to find other students to live with, your university’s students’ union (SU) should be able to help you out. They’ll often have lists of other students looking for housemates. Plus, they can provide information on local landlords and agents that have been used by other students.
Your SU will normally have its own website, which you can find via the university’s website or social media channels.
How do you confirm your choice?
Online through university
Once you’ve confirmed your place, most institutions will let you apply to halls online. You’ll likely need to set up an account and make a payment to secure a spot. Once your place is confirmed, you’ll have to set up your method of payment for your rent.
Some universities will let you apply from February or March even with a conditional offer, and many have a cut-off date for guaranteed housing, usually around August.
Some accommodation providers, like DIGS in Huddersfield, have a ‘No Place No Pay' policy in place. This means that you can book your accommodation as soon as you have made a decision on your first choice university.
Through a letting agent or landlord
There’s a bit more paperwork involved when you’re renting privately. Once you’ve decided on a property and contacted the letting agent or landlord, you may need to pay a deposit to secure the room or house. You’ll then be given a tenancy agreement that details yours and your landlord’s legal rights.
For most private accommodation, you’ll need to find a guarantor – that’s a person who will be liable to your rental commitments, like paying rent, if you fail to do so. This can be a parent or anyone else who agrees to do it for you, but they’ll need to be in a financial position to be able to commit to this.
If there are points in your contract which you’re unsure of, ask either the letting agent or someone you trust to explain it. Once you’re happy, you can sign the contract and pay your deposit.
Be aware that with private accommodation, you may need to pay rent during the summer months even if you’re not planning on living in the property during that time.
What if you’re confirming at the last minute?
If you’ve confirmed your place at a late stage, or just gone through Clearing, your best option is to contact your university directly. They’ll be able to connect you to their accommodation team who can advise on what’s available.
DIGS guarantees accommodation to students who choose the University of Huddersfield as their first choice, so you can be sure of a room, no matter how late you apply (see below to check the full criteria).
Good stuff from elsewhere
DIGS Student Accommodation
Here you'll find the accommodation guarantee from DIGS in Huddersfield.
Student Finance Calculator
Looking to find out how much student finance you may be entitled to? Check out this calculator here.