Halls vs. Private Rented: The Fresher’s Experience


Every year it seems that a larger proportion of Southampton Freshers find themselves thrown out into the big wide world of Private Rented. With the number of admissions increasing each year and the new halls blocks just not going up quite fast enough, the Fresher’s experience is perhaps more diverse in Southampton than it might be at other universities around the country.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, there are highs and lows of both lifestyles – halls isn’t for everyone. Unfortunately the vast majority, particularly those Private Rented amongst you, didn’t get a hard and fast choice between these lifestyles and, like me, found yourselves on results day with the frightening prospect of finding and securing a house with a bunch of strangers you would have to find through social media. And so, having been privileged enough to experience both of Fresher’s lifestyles, I have compiled for you a set of pros and cons of each, so that you too can appreciate both what you are missing out on, and what you are lucky to have escaped!

 The Pros of Southampton Halls

  • The Social aspect – there’s always someone in, _77654537_77654536no need to be lonely with over 500 neighbours surrounding you!
  • Community Spirit – it’s all about that summer camp/eternal slumber party feeling.
  • Everyone is in the same position – no matter what you’re struggling with, whether it’s the inability to boil an egg or using the prospect of using the tumble dryer for the first time, someone will either be willing to help you, or learn with you.

The Cons of Southampton Halls

  • Sometimes there’s just not enough space to think – with so many people crammed into the same space, distracting you from your work or just not letting you have that half-hour of alone time to Skype your family or to just sit and reflect on the world, halls can often seem to resemble the big brother house.
  • Fridge raiders – Some people just can’t read labels. We know you’re out there food thieves.
  • Fire alarms – bacon really isn’t that hard to cook, and dragging your entire block out of their beds at 3am may not be worth that hangover fix!
  • The showers – you will miss the days when a shower was a warming experience, these days it’s more of a wake-up call in the mornings as the fluctuating temperature goes from scorching to ice-cold in the space of seconds. In some halls at least.
  • Those paper thin walls… yes that’s right, I can hear everything.

The Pros of Private Rented

  • d95b6230b7bb0191f86518214edf127bf974bd03_354_255Personal space – there’s just something about living in an actual house that distracts from that summer-camp feeling. Everything is a lot quieter with 100x fewer people living in your immediate vicinity you’re much less likely to fail your first year.
  • No visiting restrictions = as many childhood reunions and house parties as you like without facing trial and punishment.

 The Cons of Private Rented

  • There’s no escaping if you don’t like your housemates – without another ten flats surrounding you, it’s just you and whoever you’re stuck with – for the entire year.
  • It can get very lonely – Billy has gone home for the weekend, Jeremy has his girlfriend round, Katie is down with fresher’s flu and Rachel has an assignment due. Another night alone with Netflix it is.
  • You feel you’re missing out on that all-important halls experience you were promised when you made the decision to go to uni two years ago.
  • The bills – talk about throwing you in at the admin deep end (although usually it’s actually cheaper than halls).
  • Hygiene – there’s no cleaners in Private Rented, and rats are your responsibility.

Third year English Literature student. Avid dreamer, lover of magic and all things Taylor Swift. Writer for The Edge and Wessex Scene, as well as regular all-round contributor and Lifestyle-Living Editor for The National Student.

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