Guide to Living at University

There’s a lot to do before you get to university, from choosing your degree to finding student accommodation. But once you arrive, you’ll still have a lot more than just studying on your to-do list. You might be living away from home for the first time in your life and it can be tricky to get your head around everything you should take into account.

With that in mind, here’s our ultimate guide to living at university. We cover everything from how to make your room feel cosy to amazing meals on a budget and how to navigate the dreaded cleaning rota.

A bare university dorm room
University rooms can be quite basic when you first move in

Making your room feel like home

You can make your uni room feel like home with a few simple soft furnishing touches. Often landlords or accommodation management will not allow you to place things on the wall, use candles or paint anything, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it your own space.


Picking bedding that you like the look of and feels comfy will immediately help, as a good night’s sleep can help transform your outlook and help your mental health. In addition, having some cushions or a throw on your bed will help create that cosy space.

Study area

For your work area you can attach a cork board onto the wall using command strips, which allow you to hang lighter items without causing any damage to the wall. You can customise your cork board with some favourite photos of family and friends, perhaps some positive quotes, anything that makes you feel happy and can power you through your studies. Plus, if you get a large enough size you can always have a weekly planner on one part to help you keep organised with lectures, seminars and social plans.

A nice university room with some decorations
With some decorating, you can turn your room into a much cosier space

Get some greenery

Plants provide oxygen for living spaces and adding a few leafy additions to your room can really make a difference. If you aren’t so green fingered maybe look for trusty plants that won’t need much attention – aloe vera is a brilliant plant for that!

Making a feast on a uni budget

Want to make a culinary feast but the budget isn’t looking good? As a student, money can often be tight, but with the right choices and the right planning, you can still eat well and save some money when you know the right tricks.

Find the cheaper alternatives

Budget planning and hunting down cheaper alternatives is key as a student. When shopping look for supermarkets’ own brand for staples – such as bread, fruit/veg and cupboard items. Whilst it may seem you are only saving pennies, they do add up and can make a difference to your monthly and yearly spending.

Prep your meals

Another thing to consider is meal prep. Sounds boring and time consuming, but actually a few hours spent cooking one afternoon or morning can set you up for a week or two’s worth of meals which you can then freeze. Usually recipes are for two or four people, and having to cook for one can be an expensive option, so bulk cooking can give you an opportunity to try new recipes without breaking the budget. But most of all do not go food shopping hungover or hungry – as you will end up blowing your budget on comfort food!

Students eating a feast together
You can still eat well on a student budget

Navigating housemate issues in a harmonious way

Living together with other students can be challenging. There are a few things you can do that will make living together with other people much easier and more harmonious though.

Know where your flatmates are coming from

For some it may be their first place living away from home, and others may have a particularly heavy university workload – plus everyone has a different version of what they perceive as clean! The first thing to consider is understanding where your housemates are coming from. It will make it easier to have conversations as, rather than butting heads, you will be able to adapt what you say based on what drives them. For example, for the ‘lazy’ person who sleeps a lot, is up at night but then never does their washing up and seems to forget the rota. Perhaps splitting chores and dividing them up will work better? They may be better at emptying the bins and being in charge of something that is a weekly task rather than a daily one.

Students cleaning together
Roommates should all take part in keeping the apartment clean

Everyone should take part

Even though people come from different backgrounds and have different workloads with their studies, everyone in a flat should contribute to keeping it clean. Everyone should be responsible for their own personal space, and everyone should also do something to make sure the shared spaces stay livable. Often housemates will split up chores and have a rota, whether that’s weekly or monthly, and some – if issues can’t be resolved – end up deciding to all pitch in to pay for a cleaner.