Choosing what accommodation you live in for 1st year always seems like an incredibly daunting task because a lot rests on this decision; it’s easily one of the most common questions I am asked as a student ambassador.
That being said, my biggest tip would honestly be to not let it stress you out. At the end of the day, I know people who got their last choice and met their best friends in that flat and those who got their first choice and wished they hadn’t (me!). (Disclaimer – people rarely get a choice low down their preference list, so don’t panic). Nevertheless, it is important that you look forward to moving to uni and feel comfortable where you are, so there are a few things that I’d suggest you consider.
What facilities are important to you?
Firstly, you are incredibly lucky because the uni have created virtual tours of each accommodation and I am so jealous – I wish I’d had these, instead of relying on my terrible memory and some online photos. The two biggest considerations will be whether you’d like to be catered or self-catered and whether you’re bothered about having an en suite.
Catered or self-catered
The colleges offering catered accommodation are Vanbrugh, James & Derwent. Basically, if you’ve got your heart set on a hearty breakfast and dinner every weekday, your choice is made easy because you’re narrowed down to three colleges. Within these three colleges, you can choose an ensuite or shared bathroom as well as between bands 1, 2 or 3 (we’ll get onto bands in the next section). Catering does obviously cost extra per week, but the bonus is that the cost of the majority of your food is already accounted for. On the flip side, you do have to adhere to the meal times set by the college catering venue which is great if you have a regular schedule, but not so great if you’re out and about a lot. Although, you can take away your meals and don’t have to eat there and then.
Ensuite or shared bathroom
If you’re after an ensuite (which also isn’t the be-all and end-all like my 17-year-old self thought) you have the choice of all colleges, so your job just got harder and your spending higher. Unsurprisingly, ensuites do cost more per week than a shared bathroom. The shared bathrooms get cleaned weekly, however, as do the kitchens, so you won’t find yourself living in other people’s mess (for an extended period of time anyway…).
What price bracket suits you? AKA which band
Accommodation at York is split into ‘bands’ which refer to the cost and standard of the accommodation. Band 1 is the lowest and 4 the highest. For instance, Halifax provides band 1 shared bathroom, self-catered accommodation for £99 per week whilst Langwith and Constantine offer band 4 rooms which include a ¾ sized bed, ensuite and weekly college meal at £179 per week. There are other options available for these colleges, but those are just at either end of the spectrum. Naturally, there are more rooms which fall into band 2 and 3 and most people will probably find a good balance in one of these options.
Consider your college, but not too much…
Something else I get a LOT of questions about from confused prospective students is the collegiate system at York because it’s different to elsewhere. Essentially, your college is just your accommodation. Each college has a few accommodation blocks centred around a common room or hub and its own mailroom and staff, but it doesn’t matter for much more than that.
My advice is that if you’re interested in sport, have a look at what teams each college has because some offer a lot more choice than others. Also, whether they offer the facilities you’re after (catered/self-catered). Other than that, just go for the accommodation type you like the look of!
Location is something to take into consideration, but once again, it’s not a huge deal. Because York is a campus university rather than a city-based one, the accommodation is interspersed with the department buildings and facilities. You might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned that there are two campuses yet if you’ve done some research already, but the short answer is that this shouldn’t affect your choice, in my opinion.
The campuses are only a 15-20 minute walk away and a free bus runs between them every few minutes. For example, my friends lived on a different campus to me and to where our department building was, but would just hop on the bus or walk to lectures. My whole friendship group, apart from me, actually met on the bus to lectures once they realised they were all on the same course. There is everything you need on each campus (bars, study spaces, gyms, food shops), so you need not ever leave!
To summarise (well done if you made it to the end)
I would choose accommodation based on ensuite/shared bathroom, catered/self-catered and how much ‘luxury’ you want (or can budget for…). I’d definitely look through the virtual tours online too for each college to get a great feel for what it’s like to be there. Overall, your accommodation is one tiny part of your uni experience and it’s really important not to stress about it (I wish my younger self knew this). Make an informed choice, but don’t take weeks to deliberate over it and know that you can make the most out of wherever you live.
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