Halls vs. Houses

When I moved out of halls in June 2011, I genuinely thought my life was over. It was just knowing that never again in my life would I get the opportunity to be […]

When I moved out of halls in June 2011, I genuinely thought my life was over. It was just knowing that never again in my life would I get the opportunity to be surrounded by 2,500 other students within a 350m radius – the basic foundation which makes the Glen Eyre complex so amazing. But 5 months down the line, I wouldn’t go back to halls if you paid me. The question stands – House or Halls??


There’s no doubt about it, halls are a godsend for freshers. You have a cleaner and a free bus pass, but furthermore, when you’re new to university, having a huge range of people upstairs/downstairs/next door is great for making as many friends as possible. The best thing about it is that living in this hub of students couldn’t come at a more perfect time – in 1styear, your attendance and grades don’t count towards your degree. Following the any-percentage-over-41-is-waste philosophy, my flat used to pass the time by room raping (newspaper, bin bags, lifesize Boris Johnson model in the doorway), fraping (your whole friends list getting inivited to “My huge coming-out sesh 😛 “), and throwing sugar cubes from the kitchen window at passers by on the path below connecting Hartley Grove and South Hill.

Heaven or Hell?

However, you can have too much of a good thing. Out of the 70-odd people in your block, there’s always bound to be someone making noise at any given hour of the day or night, giving halls a hotel-like feel. Paying £2.20 for laundry and a further £1 for the tumble dryer is excessive (do they plate them in gold or something?). Also, there’s always constant reminders that this is not really your own; in a house you’d never see signs in the bathroom warning against flushing condoms and tampons down the loo, nor would you move a solitary trainer from the hallway on the grounds that it was a ‘fire hazard’. One morning in halls I got up to find the chargehand, cleaner and electrician having a leisurely half hour chat in the kitchen while I walked round them trying to get my breakfast… halls may be fun, but it comes at the price of being homely.

Houses are a completely different story. As well as the luxurious free laundry, you’ve got a telly and a sofa enabling you to lounge to your heart’s content (beyond the realms of iPlayer and your bed). There’s also no-one moving your stuff around and telling you where you can and can’t put things. However, the situation reverses – when you desperately need your landlord to come and fix a leak in the kitchen ceiling which could give way at any point, he’s nowhere to be seen.

'Self Catered' taken to another level?


Halls also poses the problem of the Flatmate Lottery. In a worryingly similar fashion to those long-term couples who got serious too quickly (come on, we all know one), you will all try hard to make it work to start with, but there eventually comes a time when you stop bothering. A flatmate of mine had a sound system notorious for shaking the mirrors and desks all the way down to 2 floors below. All year we more or less put up with this, until said flatmate had the nerve to kick off at us for making too much noise one night towards the end of the year. Alas.. after the freshers’ pretence subsides, the ugly truth about your flatmates finally exposes itself.

On the whole, houses are better simply because they’re comfortable. You’ve actually chosen to live these people – which means that you’re supposed to have a more enjoyable time at home with them (as well as feeling a lot more comfortable stealing sharing food). The experience of having a JCR (RIP Chamberlain) and an endless range of students living so close are features lacking in a house. Call me a boring 2nd year, but the experience is a lot more homely than the non-stop, crazy and expensive atmosphere of halls which serves freshers so well.