Unlike most in my first year, I went into private accommodation rather than into halls. At this point in the year it is a decision I do not regret at all and if I could go back I would not choose halls instead.
When it came to actually moving in, because I knew my flatmates I could coordinate what I bought and wouldn’t end up with the common kitchen cupboard full of 6 sets of pans. Knowing my flat mates beforehand also meant that we could talk about what we wanted in the flat and just little planning things that made moving away from home a little less daunting. That little extra bit of organisation meant we could do things like split the price of a large TV between us so we would have something to watch Netflix on together in the main living room.
For someone who was moving to a city and had never really been brought up in a city environment, choosing private gave me the chance to move in a week earlier than everyone else which was very relaxing. Spending a week getting my bearings and exploring the city and not having to worry about going to any induction week related things was a great de-stressor in the very stressful process of starting university and moving out for the first time.
Living in private accommodation feels a lot more of a home than just temporary accommodation; having a double bed, plenty of storage space and a few more creature comforts you couldn’t fit into a place with less room. Being able to bring things that I probably would not have brought if I had moved into the smaller space in halls is the running theme when looking around my room in the flat and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Now the one thing I was worried about when going private not being able to have 5-6 people who you could immediately talk to and become friends with, it was kind of daunting. Meeting with strangers and being almost guaranteed to form some kind of a friendship with them was in my mind something key to the university experience. Although, in hindsight, I made friends on my course with no problems. I can see why it would put someone off going to private the first year, since a lot of people move into a flat in second year with their first year flat mates.
However, there is a flip side to this: because I knew my flatmates I knew that we would not have any problems, there wouldn’t be the chance our personalities would be incompatible and we would be at each other’s throat 2 months into university because of differences. I definitely prefer the little bit of extra freedom that comes from renting your own flat with friends and having more space to do your own thing.