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Going to uni might be the first time you move away from home and your first taste of independence

2 min read

Going to uni may mean moving to another city, which can feel like a very big change for many people.

It's only natural to feel a little nervous about this, and lots of people may feel a little homesick from time to time. But you’re not alone.

Everyone starting university will be experiencing a new step in life and there are plenty of sources of support for you. It can also be really exciting, if you know what's coming your way. Here, we'll go through what to expect and all the different living options available.

Living options

When you start university, there are several housing options for students.

Student halls of residence

Often referred to as ‘halls’, many students choose this option for their first year at university. Here are some of the reasons why:

Halls are usually close to the other university buildings, so they’re conveniently placed for getting to and from classes.

All bills are included, so you don’t need to worry about contacting suppliers for your electricity, or using too much water or WiFi.

Rooms come with the basic furniture you need such as bed, wardrobe and desk so you don’t need to bring these things yourself.

Contracts include the university breaks, so you don’t pay bills if you return home. Although, you can stay around if you want to.

Halls often have security teams and residential support, so you can rest easy knowing you are safe and protected.

Some halls have the option to be catered. So your meals are provided for you, typically breakfast and dinner, 5 days per week.

Private renting

Organising your own housing via a private landlord means you get to choose exactly where you live, and who with. Some prefer this option, while others prefer to live in halls. It’s up to you and your personal preferences.

What's included

Private means you'll need to manage your rent and bills directly with your landlord, not the university. Many universities will have housing support teams who can help you with this, and to find local landlords who have a good reputation for working with students. Renting privately at university is a good opportunity to practice independent living skills with a network of support to help you.


You may need to consider how far you want to travel to uni, and what public transport is available. Private accommodation is usually further away than halls of residence.

Living with friends

Many students rent privately for their second and third years of uni, so they can live in a shared house with friends they made in first year. But this is also an option for your first year, particularly if you've already got friends at your uni.

Living at home

There's always the option of not to moving away for uni and continuing to live at home. You'll still get to take part in uni life, and it's a great way to save money on food shopping, rent and bills – especially if you don't have to pay rent at home.

Living away from home for the first time

Feeling homesick is a very common experience – even if you also have positive feelings about the experience – it can take some of us by surprise.

But remember there's always help at university if you ever need to speak to someone, and things you can do to settle in and find your groove. Here's what to expect when moving to uni.

What will living away from home be like?

How to manage any uncertainty

Living at university gives you the opportunity to join a new community and meets lot of new people.

How to settle in

There are ways to manage the transition to living away from home for the first time, such as:

Getting involved in clubs and societies

There's often so many to choose from that you're bound to find something that takes your fancy. You'll make new contacts and friends, which will help you settle into your new home.

Chatting to other students

Remember, you're not the only new person at uni. Everyone can feel a bit lost and unsure at first, so let them know how you feel and they'll help you.

Exploring the campus and the city

Take a trip to your new uni campus to get an idea of where the main buildings are – including the Students' Union. You'll feel more comfortable in your new home when you've got to know it.

Using student services

It's ok to feel a little homesick or need a bit of extra help every now and then. At Portsmouth, our network of support is there to ensure students feel happy and healthy as they focus on their studies. Universities will have somewhere and someone you can turn to if you ever need to.