find your perfect postgrad program
Search our Database of 30,000 Courses

Postgraduate Student Accommodation – The Ultimate Guide

Where you live will play an important role in your postgraduate life – having the right postgraduate accommodation will really enhance your studying experience. This ultimate guide to postgraduate student accommodation will help you make the right choice when selecting your new student home.

Our Ultimate Guide To Postgraduate Accommodation In The UK contains all of the information you need to find your perfect postgraduate accommodation when studying a masters degree or PhD at a UK university.

What we’ll cover

Types of postgraduate accommodation

How to choose the right postgrad accommodation for you

Where to find postgraduate accommodation

Be safe and secure in your accommodation

Types of postgraduate accommodation

There are several types of student accommodation to choose from as a postgraduate student. Choosing the right type can make all the difference to your study experience, and help you settle into postgraduate life as comfortably as possible.

The two main types include renting accommodation through your university or via a private accommodation provider like Fresh – there are benefits to both, and it’s important that you find the type of accommodation that suits you best. 

Most UK cities offer a selection of private student houses and flats, and universities often have their own accommodation blocks designed specifically for postgraduate students. In this section, we’ll take a look at the differences to help you decide which type of accommodation is right for you.

  1. University accommodation

Universities recognise the importance of assisting with postgraduate accommodation arrangements, and every university has an accommodation office to help with this. You will find information about the accommodation office in the prospectus and on the website of each UK university, and there will be information sent to you if you are offered a place on a postgraduate program. It is extremely important that when this information comes, you read it very carefully so that you understand the accommodation situation.

Most UK institutions offer excellent in-house accommodation for their undergraduate students and usually something for postgraduate students too. If you are able to apply to live in your university's halls of residence then the accommodation offered will probably be a single study bedroom, which should be well-equipped, safe, clean and of good value. This may have its own private facilities with a shower and toilet in a separate room leading from the study bedroom. This is described as ‘en suite’ facilities. 

Alternatively, the showers and toilet facilities may be shared between several study bedrooms. In either arrangement there will probably be a kitchen that is shared by several students, and which is equipped with a refrigerator, a cooker and a sink.

The accommodation may be provided with a wide range of different arrangements. Most universities will have mixed-sex halls of residence. However, most universities will also have single sex halls of residence for those who prefer such arrangements. 

Similarly, there will be variations in the provision of meals. Some halls of residence will be available on a self-catering basis, which means that no meals are provided. In such circumstances the halls will have kitchen facilities. Others may include meals in the rental cost, and you will be able to eat in the refectory or cafeteria in the halls of residence. Clearly, you can choose whichever arrangements you prefer. 

Most university halls of residence will have some communal facilities, including for example a common room, a television room, a small shop and laundry facilities. They will also provide cleaning services for the communal areas, including the kitchens, but you will have responsibility for keeping your own room clean. Washing clothes will also be your own responsibility. You will be able to do this using the self-service laundrettes, which are available in most halls of residence or in the Student Union facilities in the university. You will also find private laundrettes in most localities, which you will be able to use.

If you are applying to live in a hall of residence then you will need to complete the application form by the deadline indicated to you. The university will then confirm back to you whether or not you have been allocated accommodation. Until you receive this confirmation, you should not assume that you have been given a place in a halls of residence.

  1. Private student flats

A popular option amongst many postgraduate students is to live in a privately owned student flat. This is a purpose-built student apartment block that is owned by a private landlord or company, rather than the university itself.

This is a great option for postgraduate students. Privately owned student flats provide a safe place to live, with the opportunity to get to know other residents. They also offer a wide range of living options.

For example, Fresh is a leading provider of student accommodation with a huge choice of accommodation options, including self-contained studios, shared apartments and en suite rooms, with all bills included, CCTV and on site accommodation teams for your added peace of mind. 

They offer secure, comfortable and modern accommodation to over 16,000 students in more than 70 locations across the UK, including Aberdeen, Bath, Belfast, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Brighton, Bristol, Canterbury, Cardiff, Chester, Coventry, Dublin, Durham, Edinburgh, Egham, Exeter, Galway, Glasgow, Kingston, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Loughborough, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Paisley, Sheffield, Stirling, Stoke-on-Trent and Swansea.

If Fresh doesn’t have postgraduate accommodation in the area where your university is based, there are lots of other privately-owned student accommodation providers in the UK that can also help you find postgraduate accommodation, but it is important to make sure you have a good recommendation. All UK universities have lists of properties that students can rent from private landlords, and in many cases these will have been inspected by the accommodation office to be sure they are of a suitable quality and that the rent is fair. 

However, the accommodation office will not usually make the arrangements for you – you will have to do this yourself by contacting the property’s owner or landlord. The advantage of such private accommodation is that you can find something to suit your own needs and budget. 

The disadvantage is that it is difficult to make arrangements before you arrive in the UK, and in some cases if you do have to find private rented accommodation you may find it easier to make temporary arrangements for somewhere to live before you arrive, and then look for a permanent place after you have arrived. The accommodation office can usually give advice on finding temporary accommodation.

  1. Private student housing

Now you are a postgraduate student, you may feel that you no longer want to opt for communal living on a large scale. If this is the case, sharing a student house may be more up your street. There are plenty of reputable letting agents with affordable postgraduate student properties on their books, although you will probably have to spend more than you would living in purpose built student housing or university halls of residence. 

If you are looking to rent private student housing, make sure that you use a reputable letting agent and sign a proper contract. Check with the accommodation office at your university, as they should be able to recommend some local agents.

  1. Homestay

Another popular accommodation option – particularly for international students – is homestay. This gives students that are moving to a new city or country to adjust to their new life in accommodation where they are surrounded by home comforts – living with a family. This option is often considered to be short term while students find their feet, meet fellow students and work out where they want to live – but it is also worth considering as a more long-term choice – particularly if you form a good relationship with the family you’re placed with. As you are going to be living with a British family, homestay is also a great way to practise your English and to learn about British customs and way of life. You should always opt for a homestay agency that is registered with the British Council, for example HFS London Homestay Specialists.

Fresh is one of many potential private accommodation options for international postgraduate students. Other private student accommodation options are available and we advise you to research all your options thoroughly before making such a commitment. 

Postgrad.com accepts no responsibility for your choice of student accommodation and does not endorse or support Fresh. Fresh Student Living Ltd is registered in England and Wales under company number 07268209. The VAT number is 142920528.

How to choose the right postgrad accommodation for you

Having a think about what you want out of your postgraduate accommodation will help make your investment in postgraduate study pay off. 

  1. Set a budget

Knowing how much you want or need to spend on rent and bills will help when searching for accommodation on a budget, as it's the only way to judge what is or isn't good value to you. Many postgraduate accommodation companies provide you with a total cost including the bills, which makes budgeting a lot easier.

  1. Think about what you need

Think about what’s most important to you in order to live comfortably. Is a bed and a desk enough, or do you need more? Do you need a garden to relax in, or would that be stressful to care for? You’re a postgraduate student, so this is probably not your first time away from home, which means you're not looking for standard undergraduate accommodation and you're probably used to a certain level of independence. It is worth considering a private purpose-built student accommodation provider like Fresh who provides a range of different styles from self-contained one-bedroom flats to private rooms or house shares and is ideally placed to cater for a range of needs.

Size 

As a postgraduate student you'll need enough space in your room to study, and with modern student accommodation providers like Fresh, you don't need to worry about a cramped little room. If you are sharing communal areas, then you'll want this to be large enough for every resident to be there at the same time. This is especially important in a shared house, as it's handy and more enjoyable if everyone can sit down at the same time in the same room to discuss any problems and to socialise. 

Condition 

You're not a young undergraduate student anymore, and you might have been privately renting or even owned your own property before embarking on your postgrad studies, so you'll probably not want a traditional student house. You'll find it hard to ignore mould and damp the way you could when you were an undergraduate student, so unless your accommodation is provided by the university or a specific student accommodation provider like Fresh you'll want to check it out first. 

Comfort 

You don't want to be uncomfortable and cold in your postgrad home, so if you're renting a private house or flat make sure you check out the boiler size or ask the current residents if it's warm enough and has enough running hot water for the number of tenants. Companies like Fresh include all the bills in their rental fees, so you don't need to worry about turning up the heat. Winters in the UK can be  wet and cold, so you'll want somewhere warm and dry to come home to. 

Separate out what you need from you what you want

Get a piece of paper and write down a list of all those things that you want to have in your accommodation. Now cross out everything that you think you could do without. This is the basic accommodation that you should start searching for, and any other features, such as ensuite bathrooms in every room, that might be less important. Fresh has  lots of different options and are well worth a look at when you are searching for that elusive perfect postgraduate student accommodation.

  1. Stay close to university campus

Check that where you are planning on renting is an easy distance to your campus and libraries. Speak with your course administrators to find out where the majority of your time will be spent when you are attending lectures and tutorials, as you don't want to do unnecessary travelling. Large student accommodation blocks like those managed by Fresh have dedicated bus routes transferring students from the halls of residence to the local campuses and are often within walking distance of main campuses. 

You don't want to spend too much time commuting and this can blow your budget too. Finding a place that has the peace you need and is a comfortable distance to campus is tough. Fresh’s accommodation locations are all handily located and are usually walking distance or on bus routes to the main campuses of the universities in the cities in which they are based, making it an easy choice when you're new in town. Ensuring you feel safe in your postgraduate accommodation is also vital as you'll not be able to study effectively if you need to calm down after every trip out of the front door. Ask around and check with your student union or association about which areas they recommend living in if you are unsure. 

  1. Find a home for your lifestyle

Do you like to socialise with the people around you or are you a little more self-contained?  If you are a sociable person then picking somewhere with organised social events for you and your fellow students will give you a chance to meet your neighbours and other postgraduate students from outside your course and institution at your own pace. If you are a sociable person then being well located is also of paramount importance. All of Fresh's accommodation blocks are well located within easy reach of the city centres and student facilities, making them an ideal base for evenings out! However, if you prefer a quieter life, their self-contained apartments give you the space to breathe and concentrate without interruption from other housemates.

Current tenants 

If you're looking around a shared house, then talk to the current residents. Some of them might end up being your housemates, so you'll want to know if they seem like the type of people you can live with. You'll also be able to ask about whether or not they like where they are living and if they think the landlord is good or not.

  1. Manage your expectations

Before you start looking for your postgraduate student accommodation, have a think about where you can compromise and don't be unrealistic about what your budget will get you. Being able to compromise on certain aspects of your postgrad accommodation may well save you a little money and it will definitely save you some heartache. Not being able to find somewhere to live because you have your heart set on a certain type of garden or a kitchen-dining area can be stressful, and this is stress you don't need as a postgrad student. Remember that not all student accommodation will be freshly decorated or have a modern style, however if these things are important to you, try Fresh - as they aim for a contemporary modern interior for all of their student accommodation. 

  1. Don’t panic into renting the wrong place

Keep calm as there is usually plenty of accommodation for students around a university campus. If your university has filled its postgraduate accommodation before you come along, then think about private accommodation. Searching from a distance can be difficult if you are looking privately but try not to panic. It's usually best not to jump at the first place you find, so take your time and make sure you're happy with where you are about to rent. It's going to be your home after all.

Speak to former students or someone who is familiar with the town you are moving to if you don't know it already. Your student union or association will have plenty of information about reputable landlords and companies that maintain local good landlord accreditation. National private accommodation companies like Fresh will meet or exceed these local standards. If you are coming from outside the UK, then you'll find the international office of your university will have lots of advice about where to rent your postgraduate student accommodation.

Safety 

Landlords should have all the necessary safety equipment in place,check with your student union or university accommodation office as to what this should include. If you're in any doubt about safety standards, then don't rent it. 

Reputation 

Whether you're dealing with a private landlord, university accommodation office or a private rental company, check out their reputation before signing on the dotted line. Do they answer your enquiries quickly and are they easy to contact? If the company, person or organisation you are thinking about renting from are difficult to get a hold of while you are enquiring with them, then it doesn't bode well for getting in touch when things go wrong. Accommodation providers like Fresh have members of their team living alongside you so it's super easy to find someone to get in touch with. In fact, if you're outgoing and enjoying chatting with people then it's a great way to earn a bit of extra cash by being a Residential Accommodation Assistant.

Contract 

Check through the rental contract and ensure you understand what is included and what is not. If you are only living there for a year, then most companies like Fresh make it easy as bills are often all included. Before you arrive ensure that you understand the deposit arrangements and on the day you move in check the inventory. Be sure about the reasons why your landlord might withhold some or all of your deposit so you don't get any nasty surprises when you leave. 

Where to find postgraduate accommodation for you

Looking for accommodation as a postgraduate student is different to those early undergraduate accommodation searches. Many of us as undergraduates were looking for our first home away from home and to begin with often picked the university provided halls of residence or self-catering flats. When you're a postgraduate student you are that little bit older and possibly wiser. You might have more responsibilities and you'll probably want a little peace and quiet, rather than being student union adjacent. In fact, you could well be more demanding!

Some postgraduate student accommodation providers, like Fresh, offer whole packages to help you move in quickly and that include all bills, which is a great help if your course is just a year long or even less. With all this choice, where to start that search, especially when you're headed to a new town or city, can be tricky.

Here are a few ideas about where to start.

University accommodation office

When you're new to town and you've only got a year or maybe two to enjoy your new home, your university's accommodation office is a good place to start your search. You'll find out if your institution provides specific postgraduate-only accommodation or if you'll be mixed in with the undergraduates, which isn't for everyone. You'll find most universities provide a mixture of catered halls of residence, self-catering shared houses or flats and self-catered one-bedroomed flats. It really pays to think about what you want. If you're going to be going full-tilt with your studies and don't mind what you eat, then catered halls of residence will save you time. But if you're a little more concerned about your diet and want your own space, catered halls of residence won’t be for you. 

Specialist student accommodation providers 

Your student union or university accommodation office will give you a list of recommended student accommodation providers. This is a good place to start your private rental search if the university doesn't have what you're looking for. There are student accommodation providers, like Fresh, who will give you a choice of private rooms or self-contained flats and you can arrange everything for moving in online before you arrive. Choosing modern, purpose-built private halls of residence is a wonderful way to meet students outside of your course and institution. Most specialist student accommodation providers will also have social events for their residents giving you another layer to your social life, which is useful when you move to a new city.

Rental companies

This is probably one for those who are already based locally as you need to know the area well to be able to distinguish between  who is reputable and who isn't. If you're in any doubt, then ask around and check for reviews. Unlike companies like Fresh or your university's accommodation, renting this way must be done in person. But if you're arriving before your course starts and have a month or two to find somewhere to live you could find the perfect place with local estate agents or rental companies. 

Internet

There are plenty of sites online where you can find private flats, houses or just one room in a house for rent. Again, this is one for either yourself or someone you trust who is familiar with what you need and familiar with the local area, to check out in person. 

Old school

If you're already based where you're going to be studying or you know people who are, then word of mouth, newspapers or even adverts in shop windows are a good place to look. Old fashioned, yes and you definitely want to check what you're renting in person, but not to be forgotten if you're having trouble finding what you want.

Be safe and secure in your postgrad accommodation

Feeling unsafe in your home will impact both your studies and your investment of time and money into your postgraduate qualifications. There is no need to feel anything other than secure in your new postgraduate student home and here are a few ideas of how to ensure you feel safe and secure. 

Health and safety

If you are a postgraduate student in the UK it doesn't matter if you are renting from your university, a specific student accommodation provider, or from a private landlord, as they all have a responsibility for your safety. If there are more than two unrelated people sharing a single residence, then there are regulations about fire alarms and smoke detectors. You will often find that regulations require that fire alarms and smoke detectors must be hard wired in ensuring that they never run out of batteries. By renting from a company like Fresh you are assured that fire alarms and smoke detectors are regularly tested and maintained. 

Your landlord is also responsible for having the boiler and any other fuel burner, like a gas fire, tested regularly and they should provide evidence of this if you ask. Your landlord should keep the house safe, so they are responsible for the electrics, plumbing and problems like mould and damp. As a resident, you need to keep your house or room in good order by keeping everything clean and tidy, ensuring any electrical devices are safe and ensuring the house stays dry by avoiding drying clothes indoors and ventilating the house. If you are staying in specific student accommodation, like the halls of residence at Fresh, there are washing and drying facilities on site, so you can avoid having your damp clothes hanging around you. 

Household security

Your landlord is responsible for ensuring that the property is secure, which means the front door should lock, beyond that it's up to you. Most accommodation providers will have all the doors to individual rooms equipped with locks as well as regulated access to the common areas. Burglar alarms are not a standard requirement, but if you feel one is necessary speak to your landlord. You should expect that the windows in property rented from companies like Fresh will lock properly as the safety of the students who stay with them is paramount. Companies like Fresh are providing accommodation for both older, wiser postgrad students and to those who have left home for the first time, this means the safety measures in their  accommodation is of a very high standard with keycard, pin number and key access required for their buildings. 

Postgrad insurance

Getting content insurance as a postgraduate student is more a case of financial security rather than physical security if the worst should happen. Student houses are much more likely to be targeted by thieves as they usually contain more items like laptops per household than a normal family home. Insurance is vital if this happens to you. Not to mention the accidents that can happen as well. This is where staying with Fresh comes into its own as insurance is included with your rent. This is easily customisable, allowing you to add items like extra tech or laptops, meaning you can relax and feel safe in the knowledge that everything is taken care of if you are targeted by thieves.

If you are ever in doubt about what your landlord should be providing, then you can contact your student union or association who will provide you with information about local regulations.

Find your PERFECT POSTGRAD PROGRAM

Related articles

Cost of Postgrad Accommodation in the UK

Accommodation Contract Checklist 

Lowdown On Tenancy Agreements

Moving Into Your Postgrad Accommodation