There’s a certain thrill that comes with first-time house-hunting. Whether you are looking for a four-bedroom flat or a studio apartment for you and your cat, you have a narrow window of time to rush through as many properties as possible and weigh the competition.
However, as even a First year like myself knows, St Andrews has an extremely tight and competitive housing market that soon quells the romantic zeal of even the most eager students. It’s not a renter’s market, and prospective tenants have to figuratively and often literally run through the streets, kicking and screaming and digging far too deeply into their pockets, to sign a lease before some other poor sap does.
Then, of course, one might weight the comfort and ease of on-campus accommodation. Designed with the student in mind to be affordable and provide little hassle, the appeal of these properties is no mystery. However, the lack of variety and the sense of constantly being at school can grate, and after a first year in university halls, many are looking for something new.
Like a Goldilocks solution without any of the angry bears, there exists a third, seldom-discussed option: private halls. The base concept is similar to that of university accommodation: simple, large, hall-style buildings, many standard rooms, and utilities included in the rent. However, there are some key differences that may make the prospect of private hall living attractive.
Two private halls of residence can be found in St Andrews: Ayton House and East Shore. Their market-based model theoretically incentivises low-cost and high-quality accommodation tailored to what students, their customers, really want. Stocked with sleek, modern amenities such as gyms, kitchens, and flat-screen TVs, private halls can offer a level of comfort that can’t be found in university accommodation. There is an enormous selection of rooms to suit just about every budget; you may be surprised at how prices stack up against those at University-owned properties. Whether you want spacious five person flat with a view of the North Sea or a quiet studio to escape the raucous St Andrews bubble, you may just be in luck.
There are, of course, downsides to life in private halls. The private halls in St Andrews are at some distance from most classroom spaces and the main streets, and it’s quite the trek in and out of town. Additionally, once you’re out of the University housing system, the procedure for reporting and dealing with any problems that arise becomes a question mark.
Tours can be booked through the halls if you’re interested. The system is intentionally quite flexible to meet the changing needs of students and fit around your schedule.
Private halls aren’t for everyone, but they do offer an enticing set of benefits that most students fail to really consider. Maybe this year it’s time to think about saving yourself some stress, some time, and potentially some money without abandoning comfort.