Top Tips for Choosing First Year Accommodation

You’ve selected Imperial as your firm choice (great choice), but what comes next? Ah yes- applying for accommodation. I still remember how anxious I felt when faced with my ‘Accommodation Hub’ portal trying to decide which 5 halls of residence to apply to. The gravitas of this decision really got to me. After all, the hall I lived in was likely to influence every aspect of my first year experience- the friends I made, my day to day routine, the part of London I would spend the most time in. To an extent, I was right. I couldn’t imagine spending first year in any other halls of residence and, if I had, I suspect my life would have been markedly different. I really loved my time in halls, albeit, I suspect I would have felt the same wherever I ended up staying.

Imperial makes this decision all the more difficult by providing an array of varied halls of residence for undergraduates to choose from. I ended up being allocated Woodward Buildings in North Acton and I had an amazing time there. If, like me, you’re a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of accommodation decisions, don’t fret. I’ll try and give you my top factors to consider when choosing your halls.

1. Location Most first years have the majority of their classes on the South Kensington campus (pre-COVID at least). Imperial has three halls based in South Kensington (Beit, Southside and Eastside) and the rest of its halls span up to North Acton (Woodward, Kemp Porter, Holbrook and The Costume Store). This means where you live will have a big impact on how early you need to wake up for your 9ams. If you know you’re no morning lark, maybe consider the halls closer to Campus. Living closer to campus also makes popping home for lunch and during breaks between lectures much easier. That being said, as the halls in North Acton are so huge there are always vast swathes of students commuting at the same time in the mornings which makes meeting new people along the way much easier. In fact, I met one of my current housemates after happening to sit next to her on the tube during a commute to campus in the first week of term.

2. Single vs Twin When you fill in your accommodation preferences you also need to indicate whether you would prefer a twin or a single room. This decision requires a moment of self-reflection. Are you a social butterfly who thrives off other people’s company? Do you need some personal space from time to time? Are you one for a 2am shower? How much would a messy roomie get on your nerves? No shame for answering yes or no to any of those questions. If you know you’re the kind of person who gets irked by other people’s idiosyncrasies or are a control freak at heart, do yourself and the rest of your year a favour and pick a single room.

3. Price There’s no two ways about it, some halls are more expensive than others. Take a look at what the halls have to offer and see which one seems the best value to you.

4. People to Kitchen Ratio Something which varies hugely between halls is the number of people who share one kitchen, ranging from 8 to 80. If you’re someone who likes to cook elaborate meals in your pyjamas maybe take this one into account. Although, in most places you’ll be able to find a spare hob to cook your pasta.

5. En-suite vs Shared Bathroom Some halls (e.g. Woodward, Kemp Porter, Southside and Eastside) have en-suites with all of their bedrooms, however, many halls have some rooms with communal bathrooms. Again, take a moment of self-reflection. Are you someone who likes spending hours in the shower? Are you unfazed by a messy bathroom? Do you have a stringent bathroom using regime? Likewise here, don’t force yourself into a situation you know you won’t feel comfortable in. Equally, shared bathrooms tend to reduce room rent so if they don’t bother you they’re worth keeping in mind. Many people attest to the fact that people usually fall into their own routine such that the bathroom doesn’t end up being double booked very often. How much you trust them is up to you.

6. Other amenities Another feature which varies substantially between halls is the quality of communal spaces and facilities. Some halls have massive common rooms kitted out with pool and ping-pong tables, music rooms and roof top terraces whereas others boast a few battered sofas. If you know you prefer spending your free time watching Netflix in your bedroom this may not be a big deal to you. However, if you like having additional areas to relax in and facilities to enjoy it is worth taking a look at the different features each hall has to offer.

This list of considerations is by no means exhaustive and only you will know which aspects of each accommodation truly matter to you. Nonetheless, I hope this serves as a useful starting point to ease any accommodation anxieties. Remember, wherever you end up being allocated- whether it was your first choice or not- you will meet amazing people and have a uniquely incredible experience. May the odds be ever in your favour!

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