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Should you choose catered or self-catered accommodation?

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

Go catered!

Catetered accommodation means you won't have any big spends in the supermarket and you'll also save a lot of time not having to shop.

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. Third Year English Student | University Of Liverpool


As you won't spend any time cooking, you'll have some more time to settle in.

Great for socialising and making new friends, definitely go if you think you can eat the food for the year. The accommodation there is a good standard and you save yourself a lot of time and energy by not having to cook. Fifth Year Medicine Student | University Of Edinburgh

Luckily, 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. Fourth Year Physics Student | University Of Cambridge

Cook for yourself

Without having set meal times, you'll have a lot more freedom to eat when you want to.

I prefer self-catered since you have more independence - you can cook and eat when you want. With catered halls, they have set times for breakfast and supper. Cooking all your meals can be a pain when you're tired, but you can always have something quick and easy. Second Year Physics Student | University Of Nottingham


Cooking is a great life skill to have - you can make whatever meals you want and your food shop will be a lot cheaper than catered accommodation.

Non-catered halls are a better choice since catered halls don't have a real kitchen and you can't prepare anything outside meal times. Cooking for yourself is also much cheaper and something you have to learn later in life anyway. First Year English Student | University Of Aberdeen

The kitchen is also a social hotspot, even if you're not the best cook.

My halls also include shared kitchens which I would recommend even if you don't like cooking - 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 café. First Year Psychology Student | University Of Winchester

Still not sure?

Catered halls could be a good choice for you if you want the convenience of having your dinner cooked for you without having to worry about washing up or budgeting for food shopping.

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 will probably suit you best. 

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