Tips for finding accommodation in Scotland

Sacha Wylie·1 May 2024·5 min read
Tips for finding accommodation in Scotland

Tips for finding accommodation in Scotland

Although Scotland may feel like a foreign country, finding university accommodation here is very similar to the rest of the UK! This blog will help you navigate the main differences between Scottish and English accommodation as well as giving you some general house hunting advice.

First year accommodation:

One big difference between Scotland and England is that accommodation is often allocated a lot earlier in the former. Due to the fact Scottish pupils are more likely to receive unconditional offers, several Scottish universities grant places as early as April. This is extremely useful if you’re a Scottish student as it allows you to sort out accommodation early and have one less thing to worry about. Similarly, it should still be possible to apply to halls of residence early on if you have a conditional offer (although you won’t be allocated accommodation until you receive your results). If you have a conditional offer, but don’t want to stay in university halls of residence, many private halls are still happy for you to book a room and will return your deposit if you don’t get accepted. If you are considering staying in private halls or a flat, it’s worth checking out the properties on our websiteto see if any take your fancy!

Each university will have different ways of allocating accommodation. Some may allow you to state your preferences for specific halls whilst others may simply ask for any requirements you have and allocate you automatically. It is worth finding out each university’s system before you apply. A lot of Scottish universities offer non-academic online open days where you can find out about accommodation and student life. This is a great option if you live far away from Scotland and are unable to attend in-person open days. If this is your situation, it may also be useful to go onto Google maps and pretend to “walk in” to the university and the city centre from any accommodation you are considering applying to. This will give you a realistic gauge of the location of the halls and may even familiarise you a bit with the city!

Finding accommodation in later years:

It is important to know the housing market in each city. High demand for housing in bigger cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh may mean you need to start your search a bit earlier (the average time students start looking in both is October). On the other hand, in those such as Dundee and Aberdeen, you may be able to start looking a bit later and have more flexibility. Either way, starting your search early will save you stress in the long run. If you have left it to the last minute, here’s some advice on how to manage exam season and house hunting at the same time. It is also important to consider whether you want to rent accommodation over summer. Whilst it may be expensive, it means you will have a guaranteed place to stay for the next year and is also useful if you want to work and live in the city during summer.

After you have lived in your city for a year, you should have a much better idea of where everything is and what area you would like to live in. This may be tricker with campus universities. At those such as the University of Glasgow and Heriot Watt which are quite far out from the city centre, students often choose to live nearer the middle of Glasgow or Edinburgh and commute. Obviously this will depend on how many classes you have and how far you are willing to travel every day. Either way, make sure to apply for a Young Scot Card in order to get free bus and discounted rail travel until you’re 22 years old. For universities which have a city campus (such as the University of Edinburgh), it may be worth living closer to the buildings where you have classes. If you’re still wondering whether to choose a campus or city university, this blog might be useful. Finally, it’s worth considering whether you need to be close to bus stops, railways stations or airports as well as supermarkets and GP surgeries.

One final big difference!

A lot of people don’t realise that degrees in Scotland last four years instead of three. As a result, it is important to budget accordingly to make sure you can afford to pay rent for the extra year. This is mostly alleviated by the fact Scotland is cheaper to live in (with the exception of Edinburgh!), but is definitely still something to be aware of.