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Saving money when you live in halls

Saving money when you live in hallsStudents living in halls can't follow some money-saving advice, like switching broadband supplier – but there are other ways to bring costs down.

Check what you're paying for

As well as your basic rent, you might be paying for other things in your room in halls – and they might not be things you need.

For example, some student rooms come with a mini-fridge, which might be included in the cost of your rent or paid for with an extra hire charge. If you don't use it, you may be able to save money by having it removed.

You should also check whether the charge for things like electricity is a fixed fee or based on how much you use. If you're being charged based on what you use, take extra care to save energy by turning things off when not in use.

All of this information should be available on the university website or from the accommodation office.

Check how long you're renting for

Student hall rental periods vary. You might have your room:

  • Only during term time, so you have to move out during the holidays
  • During term time and the Christmas and Easter holidays, but not over the summer
  • All year round

The shorter your rental period, the less you'll pay overall – but if you do want to stay for part of the holiday, then a shorter rental period might end up being more expensive. Student rooms are often rented out over the holidays at much higher rates to conference visitors and tourists, so if you want to extend your stay into the holidays, you might have to pay the higher rate.

If you need to be able to stay in your room year-round, make sure you speak to the accommodation office at your university as early as possible to arrange this and work out the cost – otherwise, universities will often assume that undergraduate students will be able to return to a family home over the holidays.

Choose your room carefully

You'll normally have some choice over the kind of room you get, and it can make a big difference to your rent: you might pay around £50 a week extra for a large room with an en-suite bathroom than for a smaller room with a shared bathroom. Think carefully about the kind of room you need and whether it's worth the money.

Remember, the number of rooms of each type will be limited. To give yourself a good chance of getting the room you want, make sure you let the university know your preference as early as possible.

If you're allocated a more expensive room than you would like, some universities will allow you to move, especially if there is someone who is willing to swap with you. Your university's website or accommodation office should be able to tell you whether this is possible. If it is, there will usually be a limited time in which you can change rooms, and you can expect to pay an administration fee.

Think about catering

Many universities offer self-catering rooms with kitchen facilities and catered rooms which include subsidised meals. If you're willing to cook, then self-catering often works out cheaper – but think carefully. If you're going to end up living off takeaways and ready meals because you can't cook or don't want to spend the time on it, then self-catering could actually work out more expensive. Look carefully at the difference in cost, and be honest with yourself about how much effort you're likely to put into cooking.

Get your deposit back

As with privately-rented accommodation, you'll normally pay a deposit to cover the cost of any damage you cause to the room. The main way to make sure you get your deposit back is to look after your room: keep it clean, and take care not to damage or break anything. But you should also report any damage that is already there when you move in and check that any inventory you are given is accurate, to ensure that you aren't blamed for any problems that aren't your fault.

Find out more about deposits.

Check your insurance

If you're thinking of taking out insurance while you're in halls, check that it isn't included in your rent first. Many universities provide contents insurance for all student rooms, and this sometimes includes things like accident cover as well.

If your university does provide insurance, make sure that you check what isn't covered. Normally, your belongings will only be covered while they are in your room – especially important for phones, laptops and musical instruments – and accidental damage won't be covered. If you have a bike, it's likely that it won't be covered even if you keep it in your room.

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