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Pros and cons of different student accommodation types

Liezl Hesketh in Student accommodation 

Student accommodation complex

Moving out of your childhood home is a rite of passage that some can’t wait for and others hope will never happen. Those who are excited about finishing high school and leaving home to start their tertiary studies, soon find their excitement squashed by the difficulty of finding a place to live.  To help you find the ideal first home away from home,  we’ve compiled the pros and cons of available student accommodation options for you.

Finding student accommodation to suit your needs


Campus residence

Many tertiary institutions have on-campus housing or residences close by that offer convenient accommodation to full-time students.


  • Gives you the opportunity to make friends and enjoy the social side of student life while fulfilling your academic dreams.
  • The facilities are usually well-maintained, structured and safe.


  • There is a very high demand and places are limited.
  • Accommodation is allotted according to academic performance and financial need, which means many people are turned away each year.
  • These residences are also only open to the intuition’s own students and you can only apply for acceptance at the res once you have been accepted as a student.

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Private residence

These types of private, off-campus residences are not linked to specific tertiary institutions.


  • Provides safe accommodation that resembles campus res. Because the demand for campus res far exceeds supply, these private providers fill an important gap in the market.
  • They offer additional benefits that are often not available at campus residence. For example, enhanced security features, an on-site gym, free Wi-Fi access, laundry and cleaning services, access to transport and more.


  • The catch, of course, is that as the features are added and the proposition becomes more attractive, the price increases too. Luckily, there are many different options available and you’re likely to find something that suits your budget.


Communes or Shared accommodation

If formal student accommodation doesn’t appeal to you or your application was turned down, a studen house share (also referred to as a commune) or other form of shared accommodation will be a viable option.


  • This setup allows you to live with people of similar age and views while giving you a degree of independence from your parents and the academic institution.
  • Everyone shares the financial, cleaning and general maintenance load, which makes it important to choose your co-tenants carefully as disputes with your housemates can be unbearable.


  • You will need to make your own arrangements for services such as transport and security.
  • Additional monthly costs for food and socialising can quickly add up.
  • You will have to prepare your own meals and do your share of household chores such as cleaning and washing dishes.

See also: Archives for the renters categories

Rented rooms

While most students will prefer to live with their peers, finding a room to rent also has some advantages.


  • Your landlord could be a young professional, a family with small children or an older couple with a big house, but whatever their life stage may be, you will become part of the fabric of their home life, which could make living there feel like a second home in some ways.
  • The properties are usually better maintained than most rental properties because the owners also live there and the rent could be a little cheaper.


  • Privacy may be an issue as it could be complicated to invite friends over, play loud music or come and go at hours that suit you. Moving into a granny flat, or repurposed garage on someone’s property instead of taking a room inside their house will give you more freedom.

These are just some of the factors to consider when looking for student accommodation. It would be best to shortlist a few options and visit them to see what makes each one a viable option.

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