Student housing in the US and the UK by Casita

The difference between student housing in the US and the UK

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Casita - Your Student Home

December 15 2020
Student accommodation abroad


This article was produced by Casita

Choosing whether to study in the US or the UK is no easy decision to make. There are many factors to take into consideration such as which field of study to choose, picking a high-quality university and a city which suits your character and lifestyle. Your student accommodation is another important aspect to consider while making this decision. You have to think carefully about it because it will be the place you call home for a long time. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between student housing in the US and the UK.

University housing

Living on campus is the most common accommodation option, especially for first-year students. University housing is known as student halls in the UK and student dorms in the US. Even though the same concept of university-managed accommodation exists in both countries; their names aren’t the only difference between them. Here’s how else they differ:

1. What they look like

Student halls in the UK are usually large blocks of whole flats with a number of rooms inside. It’s very uncommon in the UK for students to be sharing a room with someone else. Rooms are usually single with a shared kitchen and bathroom if an en-suite option isn’t available. On the other hand, student dorms in the US are made up of dormitories where every student has to share a single room with at least one other student. Some dorm rooms can even take up to three students per room. Each floor can have up to 40 students all sharing one bathroom with around four toilets and four showers.

2. Food

When it comes to getting your daily meals, all accommodation, both in the UK and the US, will have kitchen facilities. In the UK, most halls only have the option of self-catering, where you and your flatmates cook for yourself with few offering the option of catering; where you sign up to get daily meals. In the US, despite also having shared kitchen facilities, many university halls either provide meals in an on-site cafeteria or offer a flexible meal plan for students to eat in the shared dining hall. Either way, the university myth about UK students surviving on beans on toast and US students on ramen noodles and hot pockets is only true if you choose self-catering without having any cooking skills!

How are they similar?

Despite these key differences between US and UK on-campus accommodation, there are a few similarities. In most cases, you won’t be able to choose your flatmates in either country; they are usually assigned to you by management. On-campus accommodation in both countries is often a short distance from not just your classes, but many other university amenities like the library and cafeteria. As for what is included during your stay, each student hall has its own policy, but in both destinations, this will usually include on-site laundry, all-inclusive bills, as well as Wi-Fi, whether for free or at extra cost. In both countries, this accommodation option is also a great way to experience the fun, social aspect of university but that also means they can be very noisy.

Private Student Housing ( PBSA)

Private student halls have the same concept as university-managed student housing, except they are managed by private companies, also known as purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA). They are best for students who want to have a more independent college experience and more privacy. You might be shocked to know that staying in university-managed halls can be more expensive than private housing in both countries. This is why many students opt for renting a flat with three-five of their friends or course colleagues to reduce expenses.

How PBSAs differ in the US and the UK

1. Payment

Private student accommodation in the UK has a weekly payment system. On the other hand, US private accommodation has a monthly payment system. The US system could make a difference in the way you calculate your expenses throughout the year. On the other hand, the weekly system in the UK is ideal if, for example, your exams end mid-month, then you won’t have to pay for an entire month only to stay for a week or two.

2. Furnishing

Student accommodation in the US has a variety of options which include unfurnished units. These are perfect if you and your roommates want to choose your own furniture pieces and decorate your home to your own taste. UK student accommodation options, on the other hand, are usually already furnished, but there are always ways to add your own character to your living space.

3. Pet policy

We all get attached to our pets especially if we’ve had them since we were kids. That’s why it can be very hard to leave them behind to go off to university. However, some student accommodation in the US realise this and have a pet-friendly policy where you can bring along your furry companion to your new adventure. Meanwhile, most UK student accommodation does not have this option.

What is common

Whether it’s in the US or the UK, private student accommodation has a unique set of perks that on-campus living doesn’t offer. Even luxurious student homes have their perks; you’ll always get value for your money. If you’re worried about the hassle of keeping track of your bills, some student accommodation options offer an all-inclusive bill option. There’s no need to pile up your laundry too with their on-site laundry facilities. Some offer 24/7 security and CCTV so you can sleep soundly knowing you’re safe. Some even have an on-site gym so you can stay in shape. They can also include entertaining communal areas like a games room and cinema room that you can invite friends to.


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