When you're deciding on which halls of residence to choose, you might be given the option of catered accommodation or cooking for yourself. So which one's right for you?
We asked current students to share their views on the catered versus self-catered debate. We've also got loads of advice on deciding which student accommodation option is right for you – and tips on applying for halls.
No big spends in the supermarket
I was in catered halls and it is definitely worth the money. It doesn't mean you're posh, it means you know you are going to be fed three times a day and having this security when you have no money is great in your first year as you begin to find your feet as a grown up. Food is just typical school food. Lunch is great because there are so many different choices on campus.
Less time cooking, more time settling in
Great for socialising and making new friends, so if you think you can eat the food for the year, definitely go. The accommodation there is of good standard and you save yourself a lot of time and energy cooking when often you don't know how to cook. Especially useful in first few months when you're concentrating on settling in, making friends, working out what you're supposed to be doing with work.
Don't have a place in halls for first year? You still have options, take a look...
The food can actually be quite tasty!
The college kitchens usually provide all meals, but this can mean student kitchen facilities are not well equipped. I didn't mind this though because college food was always convenient, delicious and reasonable value for money.
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Cook for yourself
No set meal times, more freedom
I much prefer self-catered since you have a bit more independence. You can cook and eat when you want. On catered halls, they have set times for breakfast and supper. Although cooking all your meals can be a pain especially when you're tired and hungry, there are quick meals you can make like pizzas, etc.
It’s a life skill – and it works out cheaper
Non-catered halls are a better choice since catered halls don't have a real kitchen and you can't prepare anything apart from microwave food outside meal times and cooking for yourself is much cheaper and something you have to learn anyway for later in life. However, even the self-catered halls often don't have plates, pots etc. in the kitchen, so you'll need to buy the basics.
Freshers' survival: student cooking mistakes to avoid
The kitchen is a social hotspot!
My halls also include shared kitchens which I would recommend, even if you don't like cooking, as it's a great communal area you don't get in the catered accommodation. Plus, if you are rubbish at cooking you can still make use of the cafe.
Still not sure?
Think about your priorities. If you want the convenience of having your dinner cooked for you (and no washing up!) and not having to worry about budgeting for food shopping, catered halls could be a good choice for you.
On the other hand, if you want to become a better cook and have the freedom to eat whenever you like, then self-catered accommodation is likely to suit you best.