What you need to consider when picking your first year accommodation

16 March 2020

Where you live during your first year at university can feel like a bewildering choice, with so many different options to choose from. Luckily, our undergraduate student ambassador Zari is on hand to highlight the key things you should consider when making your selection.

For many students, arriving at university may be their first experience of living away from home, therefore your on-campus accommodation plays an important role in your overall university experience and is your first opportunity to make new friends. In this blog, I will share with you how I decided where to live based on the helpful resources online from the Warwick Accommodation website as well as my own preferences.

Let lengths

As an international student the let length was a major determining factor for me when deciding on my first-year accommodation. The shorter lengths meant that I would have to move out of my accommodation for the Easter holidays and then move all my belongings back again at the start of term three. In addition to this I didn’t want to have to pay for storage and I didn’t have any plans to go home so I found the best decision for me was the 40-week let length. There are a variety of different let lengths (usually from around 35 weeks to 43 weeks) so you can decide which works best for you, but if you are an international student that’s something I would definitely suggest considering. Especially if you are like me and was planning on staying in the UK in between term times. The great thing is if you are a full-time undergraduate, you are guaranteed first year on-campus accommodation (as long as you meet their deadlines).

The location on campus

I stayed on campus in Whitefields during my first year at Warwick. It is centrally located and is surrounded by beautiful trees, lush green grass and lots of squirrels. Most people don’t know where it is, but it’s located next to the Rootes Grocery store and opposite the Oculus. Whitefields isn’t your typical university residence as its unique design looks and feels more like a house. It’s a series of little houses that can occupy up to 12 people in each building. Initially, I wanted to live in Lakeside because it was the closest to Warwick Business School (WBS) but I soon realised that it wasn’t that far of a walk away, it was more cost effective and being centrally located was a real advantage to getting around campus.

Shared living spaces

The shared living spaces was not as daunting as I first thought. I normally like to have my own space and I was concerned that a shared living space would not really suit me. Fortunately, this wasn’t an issue even when living with 11 other people there was very rarely a queue to use the bathroom. Sometimes the kitchen space could become a little crowded, so I found the trick was to try and use the kitchen during the day in between my lectures and seminars. The bedroom in my accommodation was lovely and spacious with ample storage, a comfortable single bed, desk and chair. I think that as long as you’re happy with your bedroom space that is what matters most, as that’s where you will go to chill after a day of lectures or seminars. You can always go for a stroll around campus as well; there are dedicated walking paths and lots to see.

Fees

The cost of the accommodation played a major part in narrowing down my choices, and as there were only a few options in my price range it made my final decision a lot easier. Since Whitefields was the cheapest option at the time, I placed it as my first choice. My second choice was Rootes as it was the next affordable alternative. My advice would be to establish a price range prior to looking at the halls based on your budget as it helps you to stay focused on what you can actually afford. I find that without knowing your price range you can get carried away and later realise what you really wanted is beyond your budget.

Find out what you would like to have within your accommodation

I recommend you do your research based on your preferences so that you can live comfortably in your first year. If you can’t share bathrooms with other people or you want to live in a same sex hall these requirements should help you make a well-informed decision. It is important that you have a good idea about all the options that are available to and on the Warwick Accommodation website there are helpful videos showing each accommodation which will give you a better idea of what to expect.

Top tips on how to start your accommodation search

Step 1: Start your search as soon as possible

The earlier you start your accommodation search the more time you give yourself to make the best decision. It can be a stressful process as there are many factors to consider but spreading out this task across a month will prevent making any rushed decisions you will later on regret. Additionally, take note of the application open date and the deadline dates so that you get your selection in on time.

Step 2: Write down a list of your top preferences

 This is crucial as currently there is a section on the application which asks you to include any additional comments to help the allocations team place you in a hall best suited to you. If you are the type of person that thrives in a quiet environment after hours or enjoys sociable people, make sure to include this in your preferences. For me, I emphasised living with neat/tidy, clean and organised people because I knew that I would do the same in the shared spaces on Hall. 

Step 3: Familiarise yourself with all the on-campus options

 A great starting point is to know what is being offered. Peruse all the information sections on each hall and view the videos which give you an idea of what to expect when you arrive. Each accommodation is different in terms of what students are offered, for example, some halls have their separate laundry rooms for their specific residents but other halls have shared laundry rooms. Knowing as much as possible about your potential new home is what the Warwick Accommodation website tries to do so take as advantage of that. 

Step 4: Know your budget

 In order to live comfortably you have to live within your budget. Rent is an expense that you must factor in. Based on your income, student finance or allowances you can determine beforehand what price range works best for you.  

In my opinion, the university experience is all about meeting new people and learning about new cultures, so my best advice is to be open to getting to know people and this could start in your first year accommodation!

Discover more about Zari’s course BSc Management and our range of undergraduate courses.

If you would like to know more about student accommodation, find out more on the Warwick Accommodation website.

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