If you’re new to Manchester and don’t know what to expect from the City, the people, or the accommodation around, no worries, you are not alone! We have all been there, done that. Manchester is a great, ever-lively and vibrant city with tonnes of great choices. The choice is on you to choose one that best suits your liking and preferences.
I am a third year law student who did a (1+2) transfer programme which means I did my first year in Malaysia, second and third in Manchester. Life was so uncertain back then but I was really lucky to be able to secure an offer with Denmark Road student accommodation even though I applied very late in the process (through clearing!)
I’ll be sharing how I did that and will be addressing some of the questions that came to me while choosing a decent accommodation that does not break my bank account, so read on to find out!
Here are some of the top things to consider when choosing a place to stay:
1. City, Victoria Park, or Fallowfield
Our University’s accommodation is segmented into three main parts: City, Victoria Park, and Fallowfield. It is important to first understand your preference in terms of the student life you would enjoy living, whether it be one with great nightlife, social life, or a more quiet and peaceful surrounding further away from the ever-lively Oxford Road, or a balance of both!
City Accommodation: You will be conveniently located around campus so you don’t have to worry about travelling on buses for lectures, or to meet up for group discussions or use the library. You could also easily travel to and from clubs and society activities in the evening. As the name suggests, you will also be located closer to the city centre. Great area to settle in as a first year and get used to the “away from home” life.
Fallowfield: If you are into the wild and ever-so happening Uni life with a great community of friends and exciting parties, this is for you! Guaranteed to leave you with a great and memorable student life. However, if waking up for early classes, travelling on buses daily for lectures isn’t your thing and you would prefer walking to lectures, Fallowfield may not be for you as it is quite a distance away from campus. You could consider cycling though!
Victoria Park: In Victoria Park, you’d get to experience a great balance of both academic and social activities. Accommodation may be within walking distance to campus, but still be a distance away to have the away-from-campus experience. Frequent bus services are also available so no worries! Adjacent to Victoria Park is Rusholme – popularly known as the Curry Mile – where the many restaurants and shops offer a range of cuisine and produce, including kosher and halal foods.
2. Private Halls or University Halls?
As there are several universities based in Manchester, living in a private hall may allow you to meet students from different Universities in the same building – it may be a great way to expand your social circles. When researching the different private accommodation, check out what communal spaces are provided and if they organise any events for residents to socialise. All in all, private halls have a very similar set up to halls managed by the University. If you prefer renting a studio, then private halls is your go-to choice.
3. Student Halls or Houses?
If you are an international student, unfamiliar with the surroundings of the city, it may be better to settle down in student halls for your first year, and as you learn more about the different areas such as their location and safety, as well as getting to know more friends from around campus, you may then choose to move into houses in the following years. However, you may also speak to seniors you know that may be looking for a new housemate and hear from their experiences of living in homes.
Living in a privately rented property can be appealing as it enables you to decide exactly where and who you prefer living with as well as prepare for your life post-graduation if you plan to stay and work here. While it can be tricky to find those in a similar position and organise viewings if you have not moved to university, you could find out more online on the Manchester Student Homes website that has a great variety of University approved accommodation with affordable prices!
4. Can I choose who to live with?
Being away from home and having to balance your heavy studies while focusing on building your CV may be overwhelming at times and it would be great to have support from your friends – even just to share your thoughts, to speak to someone at the end of a hectic day or to release stress by cooking meals together. You could make a note in the application telling them who you want to live with (this could be a specific person or students with certain characteristics or interest) and they will try their best to match you with a suitable flatmate. Ultimately, the University cares about our well-being and experience. They would put in as much effort as they can to allow us to get the most out of our student lives!
However, try not to limit your choices to only a certain group of people. Keep your minds and choices open. You will never know how much you can learn from people coming from different courses, cultures and backgrounds.
My experience living in a private student hall
Quick tip: For those of you who are looking at Denmark Road as a choice, you could try applying for it through the Sanctuary Students’ private website to increase your chances of getting an offer as you are essentially applying twice (through the University and privately). Note however, that the contract terms and prices are different.
I have been staying on city campus accommodation for almost two years now and I’m really enjoying my experience. While the social life may not be as flavorful nor as eventful as Fallowfield halls of residence, I feel much more connected to campus and to the city life. The hall in my first year also organised winter and spring balls for residents to get to know each other more. There have also been some pizza parties and free breakfast snacks to grab in conjunction with certain special occasions. The shared communal area is also a great socialising platform and so you are not missing out too much in terms of having fun.
Besides that, knowing myself, I am not a morning person and having to wake up even just a little extra early to catch the bus from fallowfield and travel down to campus may just lead to me eventually relying on lecture podcasts. Also, I have always dreamt about having a peaceful 10 minutes morning walk to lectures, so staying close to lecture buildings is more of an ideal choice for me!
In the end, it all boils down to your own perception of your ideal University life. There is no WRONG decision as long as you know you would enjoy and make the most out of University life. All the best in getting a suitable accommodation and do not be afraid to spend a little more time in researching and speaking to your friends and seniors. Have fun and leave no regrets behind.
Good luck and enjoy University life!