Don’t be fooled, the cheapest uni halls are always the best option
No aspect of going to uni should be described as ‘luxury’
If you chose an expensive halls of residence for first year, you were probably lured in by the double bed and en-suite. Or maybe it was the central on-campus location. Whatever your reason for avoiding the cheap, crumbling, eyesore halls at the other end of the rent scale, you probably feel your decision was justified. What you don’t realise though is that actually you’ve been completely ripped off.
Over the last few years, more and more unis have expanded their range of first year accommodation and included more high-end, “luxury” options to tempt naive first-years into parting with more of their cash. The University of Liverpool, for example, opened Vine Court in September 2012, where you’ll be paying £149.80 a week for a self-catered double room. In case your maths is a bit rusty, that figure comfortably outstrips any maintenance loan you might be offered.
While some freshers can rely on their parents to subsidise the cost, anyone from a poorer background is being priced out. Even the older halls of residence where the beds are smaller, the bathrooms are shared and the locations are worse are going up in price. Soon, anyone living in even a moderately expensive hall will come from a very select social circle, while the majority of freshers are left asking if they can even afford to live in halls, rather than merely picking which halls sounds like the right fit for them socially.
This filtering of rich/normal freshers also means that the cheaper the hall, the better the social life. Not only is there a more diverse group of people, but the location is probably further out, meaning your drunken misdemeanours can often go undetected. Plus, if you skip a week’s lectures, it’s a lot more justifiable. The more expensive on-campus halls may seem like a good idea, as they eliminate the dreaded bus into uni and place you right in the thick of everything, but nobody needs to be that close to the library or the lecture theatre in first year. That proximity to everything will quickly become a negative when you’re hungover and can’t escape the fresh-faced groups surrounding you on their way to lectures.
When the glossy accommodation brochure arrives in the post, it can be easy to get lured in by the idea of a double bed and a bigger room, but if you’re paying through the nose for a tidy but unsociable existence it’s not like you’re ever going to need that extra space for after-parties. Sure, the cheapest halls aren’t in the best condition, but the community in those halls (and the continual parties) make up for the swamp-like bathrooms and smaller-than-single beds. There’s fun to be had in throwing up in the same toilet as everyone else, taking the bus to campus with all your mates and congratulating each other when you make it in after a heavy night out.
Leave your home comforts at home where they belong, because if you can’t do that then you’re in for a few scary surprises when the fresher fun in halls begins. Coming to uni means getting used to a lack of personal space and an irresponsible swapping of bodily fluid (and food). Embrace it and throw yourself in head-first to the cheapest, grottiest halls your uni has to offer: you’ll have a much better time for it.
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