Not Living in Halls (and how it really, really, isn’t the end of the world, in the slightest)

I’ve somewhat avoided talking about university on here, and, until now, I was considering avoiding it even more since I have a link to this on my instagram and don’t want my family reading it (actually, yeah, if we’re related, please go away. Thank you).

However, now I’m fairly nicely settled at uni, with people I can consider actual, genuine friends (and not in the Freshers Week sense, where every randomer you meet in the fag pit is suddenly your bff), I feel like I should write about why, despite what literally everyone, from cocky twats in the newspapers, to my relatives, living with my partner from home was actually a much, much better decision than living with a group of strangers.

In other words, the Halls Experience is vastly overblown, in my experience.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of people who really enjoyed, and still do enjoy, living in uni halls. They range from my lovely friends in Swansea, to the absolute bitch at my boyfriend’s old accommodation who managed to successfully bully their other housemate into dropping out. I guess you have to be a certain person to enjoy living in halls.

I’m joking. I think.

In all seriousness, I know plenty of perfectly fine people who live in halls, but I also know, and have heard about, a lot of terrible ones. So, with no further stalling, here are my reasons as to why living in halls isn’t necessarily that fantastic.


You don’t actually know if you’re going to get them

This one is fairly self-explanatory, but still relevant. Given how oversubscribed universities are, it’s not actually guaranteed that you’re going to get halls in the first place. This leaves you with unnecessary stress about trying to find somewhere to live, with varying levels off success – and if you’re in on insurance choice, it’s probably best to accept right from the start that you’re not going to get what you want. At Reading, I ended up staying in a hotel for the first week of Freshers.

..and if you do, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get what you wanted.

This became painstakingly obvious last year, too. I said I’d take a premium ensuite room when I could afford it; my friend who asked for a standard room was offered one (he had to turn it down), and I was given the most run-down, shared bathroom thing they could offer me. Now, we were asked upon going into the hotel what kind of rooms we wanted. I said “a strong preference for ensuite, and definitely with other first years”.

So they gave me a shared bathroom with nine postgrads (who I’m sure were very nice, but had no interest whatsoever in chilling with a weird, constantly-pissed nineteen-year-old).

That was a huge contribution to my dropping out, added to the fact that they gave me no help whatsoever in finding another room to transfer to…

This exact same situation happened to my best friend, who also got into her uni on insurance choice… hmm… (we were both rejected from Exeter, brilliant)

You definitely don’t know who you’re going to end up with.

I have several horror stories about this one.

Inevitably, you’re going to meet some fairly atrocious people at university. It’s life, there’s terrible people everywhere. You’ve just got to hope that you don’t live with them. I know plenty of people who loved their flatmates, and even went on to live with them in Second Year – but I can personally attest to a considerable number of really, really awful flatmates.

Like my boyfriend’s, before he dropped out. This girl fancied him. Like, seriously fancied him. To the point where she, one night, asked him to do up her dress because “no one else was in” (lie: I was on bloody Skype and I could hear the girl in the room next his – her best friend, apparently). She tried to get me banned from the accommodation. She went to every effort to make me feel like he and her were the best of friends, that they ‘got’ each other, that he didn’t need me. I quote, “You have no idea how much joy Alex brings to my life”.


As well as that, she was loud, annoying, and made noises like Chewbacca when no one paid attention to her. I’m serious. That’s not even going into any depth about her.

I think that’s the main problem: not knowing who you’re going to be living with, and what their habits are. You may get on, you may not. If you do, you have a great time. If you don’t, and you’re not the kind of person who can rise to the top of the flat hierarchy, you’re in for a stressful year.

Bin Rotas and Washing Up

No one wants to take the bins out. People get annoyed with other people’s old washing up. People steal other people’s tea towels, or fridge spaces. Living with people is hard.

Fun thing to do: if other people put their perishables on your (or your partner’s, in my case) shelf? Take them out and leave them on the side. Pettiness, and rancid milk, is a winner.

Flatmate Fights

Not actual fights. That would be funny.

It’s more along the lines of passive-aggression. Flatmate 1 took Flatmate 2’s milk. Flatmate 2 is pissed off. Flatmate 1 is creeped out by Flatmate 3 walking around naked (I know someone who apparently does this, but they’re prone to being a massive bullshitter), especially when his girlfriend’s over. Flatmate 4 and Flatmate 2 find the others annoying, and hate cleaning up after them. Passive-aggressive notes follow, and soon security is called when Flatmate 2 comes home in a foul mood to see Flatmate 1, who has lectures all day, hasn’t washed up their cereal bowl.


It’s not necessarily worth the money

My shite room in Reading cost £100 per week, or £400 per month.

My flat in Brighton costs us each £550 per month. It’s a bit more expensive, granted, but it also means I get my own bathroom, kitchen, all the fridge space I could want, not having to pay to wash my clothes, a tap that produces cold water (I’m serious), and the luxury of knowing that I don’t hate the person I live with.

All in all, it’s a better deal.

And, I know that my anxiety would have been horribly, horribly detrimental to my wellbeing, especially if there’s tension. Double if there’s tension and I’m involved in it…


I know this is overly pessimistic: the exact tone I’d hoped to avoid when writing this. But, ultimately, halls can be a horrible time, and I worry that people feel like they’re doing something wrong when that’s the experience they have with it. It’s not exactly the “university experience” which is shoved into your face from the moment you start your A-Levels. I know a lot of people who live at home, and prefer it. I certainly prefer living with my boyfriend. It’s not stopping me from meeting new people, but instead giving me someone to turn to, who doesn’t live miles away, when I need someone I actually know.

Is halls the best option?

For some, sure. To pretend it is for everyone, though, seems incredibly short-sighted.


Published by

Zara Robinson

Twenty-year-old trainee teacher, hippie and weird jewellery collector living in Brighton.

2 thoughts on “Not Living in Halls (and how it really, really, isn’t the end of the world, in the slightest)”

  1. I completely agree with this, my first year of halls was awful, I felt like I was in prison, so much happier living in a house with course friends (however not perfect) sixth form and colleges shouldn’t push so much emphasis on the ‘university experience’ and the need for it to be ‘perfect’


    1. I swear they all treated university like it was some kind of utopia – at least, my college certainly did! I don’t think it’s helpful in the slightest, from my perspective, it made me feel like I was doing something wrong, and not that the uni didn’t really care about the students…


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