Halls vs House

Last year I was living in student halls on campus for my first year of university. If you want to find out more about what my accommodation was like, check out this post. This year, I’ve moved off campus and into a student house in Norwich, which has been a very different experience! Having lived off campus for a while now, I thought it would be good to do a little comparison of the different experiences you get living on and off campus.

Friends – One of the biggest differences I noticed when moving off campus was the change of having my friends so much more spread out. In first year, so many of my friends were also living on campus, meaning no one was further than 10 mins away from me. Now, my friends are spread across Norwich, making it a lot harder to pop round and see people. I’ve found you have to be a lot more intentional in organising to meet up with friends, but a lot of my friends live in groups together so it’s nice to hang out in a house and not worry about getting in the way of their other housemates.

Living environment – Living in student halls means you get a small room to yourself which can be a bit of an adjustment when most of us are used to having a whole house to roam around. I personally really enjoyed having a space that I could make my own but it’s also easy for your room to feel a bit claustrophobic if you’re spending too much time in your flat. There’s also limitations on how far you can personalise such a small space and I think overall for living environment I prefer living off campus in a house. This year we’ve been able to really make our student house feel like a home, and it’s so nice to come home to fairy lights and bunting rather than leftover takeaway boxes.

Housemates – First year is always a bit strange because you are thrown together with complete strangers to live with for a year. This isn’t a bad thing – it’s a pretty unique opportunity to make friends with people you might never have spent time with otherwise – but it is nice to be able to live with people of your choice in year two. I’m living in a small house this year, with just three of us. It’s been so lovely to live with two of my closest friends and I’m really enjoying having a smaller house (in comparison to the flat of 12 I was in last year!)

Location -I loved living on campus because everything you needed was just a short walk away, which was SO handy. This year I live a 30 min walk away from campus, which makes a big difference in terms of getting into uni each day. Living off campus means you have to plan ahead to make sure you take everything you need for the day, and you have to wake up earlier to get to morning lectures. I live on a bus route which is super helpful, but I do miss everything being so close. Having said that, it’s nice to live closer to town, and it means I’ve got to know Norwich better, rather than being stuck in the ‘student bubble’ of campus. But overall I would say make the most of being on campus, because you’ll miss the convenience when it’s gone!

Living off campus is very different to living in halls, but they’re both really enjoyable opportunities. Overall, I think I prefer living in a house, but I definitely enjoyed staying in my university room last year, and I do miss having everything so close. There’s also a huge range of student housing in Norwich, from houses next door to campus to houses close to the city centre. We’ve signed to stay on in our house next year because it’s worked so well for us, but be aware that there’s always the chance to move house again in your third year!

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