University-Managed Accommodation vs Renting Privately [student blog]

Figuring out where to live during your studies can be a daunting endeavour. Utilities, council tax, tenancy agreements all come together in a confusing web of responsibilities that most of us have never had to deal with before.  

When I first moved to Scotland from The Netherlands, there was a ton of information I missed out on that would’ve been incredibly helpful to have known. Hopefully this will provide some peace of mind if you feel the same.   

When you come to Stirling, you have two different pathways you can go down when it comes to accommodation: University-maintained accommodation or private housing.  

University-managed accommodation 

One of the biggest benefits of University-maintained accommodation is the fact that all your utilities (gas, water, electricity, and Wi-Fi) are included in the rent price. That makes for easy budgeting. 

You’ll also benefit from 24/7 staff support, the convenience of close proximity to campus facilities and your classes, and the reassurance that you won’t have to deal with a rude or unresponsive landlord. 

University-managed accommodation also provides a great environment to help you make friends and meet other students in your year.  

Since you’ll be mixed together with students from all over the world, you’ll get the chance to learn about different cultures and celebrate a variety of occasions. For example, my flatmates and I have gotten together for birthdays, sports events, Christmas, Chinese New Year and so much more.  

All of these events are memories that are going to last me a lifetime.  

Three students having dinner together in their student accommodation
A group of students in student accommodation. Fairy lights can be seen in the background.

Private rental accommodation 

While University-managed accommodation includes quite a few benefits, some students opt for private housing for a variety of reasons. Those reasons might include budget, location, work or anything in between.  

But if you’re looking to rent privately, there are a couple things to look out for.  

The first is Council Tax. If your household consists of all full-time students, you’ll be able to get a Council Tax exemption, which means that you won’t pay for your water usage, either. You can find all the information and application details here on the Stirling Council website

Another important factor is utilities. When you rent privately, utilities aren’t usually included in the rent price. That means you’ll have to pay for them separately. This can be done through top-up cards, smart meters or arranged independently with the landlord.  

Landlords can also sometimes cause issues when renting. 

They can be unresponsive, unwilling to tend to maintenance issues or rude. That’s why making sure that you rent your flat through a reliable source is paramount, here.  

Going through an established letting agency, getting references from previous tenants or using trusted recommendations from friends are some of the best ways to find a good landlord.  

If you’re looking for more information on which types of common scams to look out for and where to find reliable housing, take a look at this page on the University of Stirling website – it’s a great place to start. 

The University also offers financial support through a variety of means and can help you navigate the increasing cost of living, and so that’s definitely worth exploring, too. 

If you choose to live off-campus, it’s also important to think about how you’ll be able to commute to campus.  

Public transport can be finicky, and not all local areas have a direct connection to campus. If you choose to commute by car, it’s important to get your parking payments sorted. The easiest way to do this is through the RingGo app. Take a look at the University’s website for more information on  parking fees and ways to pay.  

That being said, Stirling is also very bike-friendly – which can be a great way of saving money (if the Scottish weather allows).  

Student holding a Christmas tree, walking home from the shop.

The bottom line 

When it comes to University-managed accommodation versus private rental accommodation, it’s important to remember that there’s no right or wrong answer. You’ve got to think about what it is you’re looking for in terms of accommodation and consider which elements are important to you and your unique situation. 

But regardless of whether you’re thinking of private or University-managed accommodation, it’s important to apply  as early as you can to avoid spaces running out.  

First year undergraduate students are given priority for on-campus accommodation – but there are normally plenty of rooms available for students of all years (including postgraduate). You’ve just got to make sure you understand the terms and conditions and application deadlines to make sure you don’t miss out. 

I had an amazing time whilst living on campus and would do it all over again if I could! I hope you have the same amazing experience, too. 

Want to take a closer look at Stirling’s range of University-managed accommodation?  

Try our virtual tour. It offers 360° views of all our student residences both on and off campus – which should help you get a better idea of what it’s like living and studying at the University of Stirling. 

This blog post was written by Rebecca Bedijn, a fourth-year Accountancy and Finance student at the University of Stirling.

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