It's a tough decision at first. Universities will of course always advise halls, but not because they think it's best for your education, but because it earns them A LOT of money...
University rental costs for halls in the UK are currently standing at a record high. In central London, the rental price for private accommodation through University halls is currently MORE than the average private rental property!
The price does however reduce if you choose to live in one of the older shared student halls options. But unfortunately this opens up many issues that most foreign students do not expect.
Remember why you're there
Lets rewind... why are we travelling to the UK for our degree? I covered this in another article where I talked about 'Investing in your Earning Potential':
It explores the long term effect of earning a top degree from a world famous institute and how your earning potential is greatly increased. It's an INVESTMENT. We are coming here to study and to learn, and we need the best ENVIRONMENT to do this in. It's a one-time opportunity, we need to 'get it right', first time. Don't fall into the trap that many do:
You invest your money to obtain a place at an elite UK university
You attend the university and stay in halls
You find the living conditions greatly effect your ability to work
You become stressed and under perform
You return to Thailand with a sub-par degree and limit your potential
It can be a cycle. But most people who study abroad regret the time they should of spent working. Study is all about focus and standard shared halls really hamper your ability to work at an optimum level.
Putting yourself first
Remember you are INVESTING in your future. It is hard to invest however when there are so many problems people face when they are pressured into choosing student halls. I was one of those people. Here is a list of just a few problems my friends, peers and I faced while living in shared university provided accommodation:
You are sharing with STRANGERS. You do not know who they are and a staggering percentage (upwards of 80-90%) of students in the west indulge in regular drug use.
You can't control 'VISITORS'. It's common practice to bring friends back to shared accommodation and as a result, there is usually a string of random people in YOUR HOME.
EXTRA KEYS are constantly being cut. People loose keys, get more cut, lend them to friends, GIVE them to friends. It's terrifying who could just 'walk' into your home.
Doors and windows being left UNLOCKED. This happens all the time because students come home drunk or have lost their key and then leave YOUR front door OPEN.
Theft. Not only as a result of unlocked doors, but also from the people you live with. As mentioned, these people are STRANGERS, some are good, some are not.
Older properties. Most UK halls are very old as the universities themselves are very old. They are constantly updating them, but newer halls prove very expensive.
SHARED BATHROOMS... I'll let that sink in a moment. Some halls have up to 15 people sharing one bathroom. En-suite (private) bathrooms are a lot more expensive.
SHARED KITCHENS. It's not your job to clean and tidy other people's mess. However, you will be disgusted at how some people live. It's also very hard to get people removed.
UNCLEAN/UNSANITARY. Drugs, vomit and party aftermaths are the tip of the iceberg. Younger people all living together encouraged to 'socialise' leads to very dirty living conditions.
THE PEOPLE. It's bad to say, but some people are just disgusting. Toilets, kitchens and living areas are all shared and unfortunately, not everyone cares about your cleanliness rules.
I found myself on the receiving end of a lot of these issues, however, I'm sure there are more that I haven't witnessed first hand. Put yourself first and CONCENTRATE on your degree. Remember this is your INVESTMENT, and the best way to ensure you're happy is to choose your accommodation and how you want to live. I made the swap mid-way through my first year and it really helped me re-focus on my studies and ensure my investment was worth it.
Talk to me today and see what I can do to help you make the most from your investment: