For many students, starting university offers them the unprecedented opportunity for freedom through living away from home for the first time. If you're going to study in a city that's far from your home, you'll need to find yourself some sort of accommodation. For first years, it's generally expected that you'll move into halls of residence. These are huge apartment blocks owned and maintained by the university. There are hundreds of students living there, some in rooms of their own, some sharing, usually sharing kitchens between at least 6 and often sharing bathrooms too. Students with a lot of cash to spare can afford en suite
rooms (although these rooms are few and far between), but entire corridors of students fighting over shared bathroom facilities is the norm.
Living in halls can be a great way to start your university life because you get to meet lots of other students straight away, you always have someone to hang out with, it's relatively cheap accommodation, they have cleaners, there are often facilities such as a laundry, bars, cafes and gyms available, you can move into a single-sex dorm if you choose and some halls even house students from different colleges.
There are downsides to halls of course - you don't get to choose your flatmates and they could turn out to be a nightmare. However, if your neighbours are really bad, there's always the possibility that you could be relocated, but this usually has to happen right at the beginning of the semester. Also, you probably won't get much peace and quiet in halls - especially around freshers' week. There will be lots of partying and the walls are generally paper thin - ear plugs may be required!
If you don't fancy living in halls you could rent privately. Perhaps you are going to uni with some friends and you want to rent a house together. This is a much bigger responsibility than halls. You have to worry about bills, council tax, not annoying neighbours and not destroying your landlord's property. Although having said that, landlords who rent to students know what they're getting themselves into and your deposit will cover any mishaps and your parents will probably have to act as guarantors - so if you mess up they'll have to pay. On the up side, renting a flat gives you much more freedom and privacy. Just make sure you pick the right flatmates!