What's it like being a fresher in private rented accommodation?

Yes, Private Rented DOES count as a halls of residence. Not everyone will live in official University halls during their first year. Some prefer the independence offered by private rented […]

Yes, Private Rented DOES count as a halls of residence.

student houses

Who needs halls when a private rented house looks so good?

Not everyone will live in official University halls during their first year. Some prefer the independence offered by private rented accommodation, others miss out on the deadline for halls applications, there are lots of reasons as to why people rent as freshers.

Private Rented students make up a solid chunk of first year students, and as such the group is represented by SUSU’s Private Rented JCR, meaning that you will still be a part of freshers activities even if you’re not living in halls.

Like most things in life, living in private rented accommodation has its ups and downs. We’ve done our best to summarise them for you.


For most of us, coming to uni is our first taste of real independence. What better way to prove to the world that you’re a grown up than to move straight into a proper house?

CGI Park House

I’d take a terraced house with character over this soulless, delightfully decorated halls junk any day

No cushy catered halls rooms here, you cook your own meals, pay your own bills, clean up after yourself. It can be effort at times, but it’s a true test of your independence, and worth it when hosting pre-drinks without any noise complaints from that weird flatmate who goes to bed at 8pm.


Halls can be expensive, but they make bill paying a very straightforward experience. You can also leave all your lights and heaters on with little to no repercussions.

While it’s a worthwhile life lesson when you learn how to pay your first bill, it’s also a huge hassle. You have to coordinate an obscenely complicated series of bank transfers, navigate a maze of automated payment hotline voice messages.

Portswood crash 2

Portswood isn’t THAT bad, honest

Bearing in mind you often have to do this three times every few months for water, gas and electricity, it can be a real task. Add rent payments to this and your student loan-inflated bank account will quickly shrink back down to depressing levels.


We all know that first year is all about getting obscenely drunk as often as possible and aiming for that 40% pass mark. This process will require the assistance of some of Southampton’s finest establishments such as Jesters, Sobar and Switch.

Unless you bag a spot in Liberty Point or Mayflower, you’re a hefty bus/taxi journey away from both Bevois Valley and the centre of town.

No cleaner for you, good luck with that mess

No cleaner for you, good luck with that mess


Being in private rented accommodation enables you to base yourself a short walk away from a location of your choosing, be it Portswood or elsewhere. Southampton’s Unlink buses mean that nowhere is too far away from campus, so don’t worry if you’re not feeling the walk to a hungover 9am lecture.


On top of the aforementioned bill simplification, halls of residence offer other perks which will be sacrificed if you choose to live in private rented. Students in halls are given a free bus pass, which will set you back over £200 if you choose to buy one. Things like laundry become slightly more difficult without washers and driers a short hop away, and you’ll have to clean your own kitchen.

To paraphrase Skepta, 'Living in halls, that's not me'

To paraphrase Skepta, ‘Living in halls, that’s not me’

Despite SUSU’s efforts, a lack of a proper meeting space (other than perhaps the Stag’s on campus) means that Freshers activities can be difficult to coordinate for Private Rented students, and you miss out on some of the community feeling.

Like most things in life, private rented accommodation clearly has its ups and downs. I can say from experience that if you’re someone who likes the independence of uni, is easy to get along with, has the common sense to deal with bills, and can pull off the bold light blue freshers t-shirt, private rented can be a great accommodation option for first year.

Check out our other halls reviews:

Did you live in private rented accommodation in first year? Let us know your experiences in the comments below!