In today’s post I would like to share with you my best tips for student accommodation at the University of Edinburgh.  I’ll do this focusing on two types of accommodation: catered and self-catered halls.  Always take the time to consider which is the most suitable option for you.  Remember, your student accommodation is the place you’re going to stay for your first year at university – make sure you choose well.

First, Know Your Campus

accommodation tips for international students

There are two main campuses at University of Edinburgh:  George Square (GS, the large red square on the map) and Kings Building (KB, the small square). Before booking your accommodation, find out from your academic department where most of your lectures and classes will take place.  Then decide where you would like to live, in other words how close you want to be to where you’ll be studying.

How Long You Can Stay

The great news is that in all self-catered halls you can stay during the winter and spring vacations. This means you don’t have to pack up your things and leave your room during the holidays.  But it also means if you go away during the holidays, you’d still be paying for your room.

If you’re a postgraduate student, make sure to pick a postgraduate hall as you need a 51-week contract so you can stay until late August/early September.  Otherwise you’d have to move out and into another room in June, which is very inconvenient when you’re working on your dissertation.

Catered University Halls

#1

GRANT HOUSE, BAIRD HOUSE, TURNER HOUSE, EWING HOUSE, LEE HOUSE (POLLOCK HALLS)

accommodation tips for international students

Image Credit: University of Edinburgh

Location: 1.4km to GS, 1.9km to KB

Cost performance:  £6266 single room

Who it’s for:   Undergraduates and Exchange Students

Recommendation Level:

You don’t have a private bathroom and the toilets and showers are shared with your floor mates –  about 20 people share 5 toilets.  The student kitchens only have microwaves and kettles so you can’t do proper cooking but you can enjoy two meals a day in the student dining hall.

The fact they are catered is in my view the biggest advantage of Pollock Halls.  Two meals per day are included in the price of your room.  There are also some great facilities, like a great study space, squash courts (you pay but it’s cheap), music rooms as well as a huge DVD lending library.

Most undergraduate students put Pollock Halls as their first choice. If you don’t mind sharing bathrooms and not being able to cook, it’s a good option.

#2

HOLLAND HOUSE, JOHN BURNETT HOUSE, CHANCELLORS COURT (POLLOCK HALLS)

accommodation tips for international students

Location: 1.4km to GS, 1.9km to KB

Cost performance:  £4693-£5301 twin room (shared), £6916-7631 single room 

Who it’s for: Undergraduates and Exchange students

Recommendation Level:

Fairly modern buildings, you get your own bathroom and there’s also a communal kitchen where you can cook.    Because this hall is in a quiet area, the students who live there often socialise together. You can enjoy the same facilities as stated above about the other Pollock Halls residences.

The options listed here are expensive compared to the other houses located in Pollock Halls. Stay there if you really want a large single ensuite room and you don’t mind the high cost.

Self – Catered University Halls

#1

SHRUBHILL

accommodation tips for international students

Credit: University of Edinburgh

Location: 1.6mi to GS, 3.2mi to KB

Cost performance: £5020 single room 

Who it’s for: Undergraduates and Exchange students

Recommendation Level: 

You share a flat with 3 to 6 person but get your own bedroom with an ensuite bathroom.   Really nice, modern buildings with each flat having a communal kitchen where you can cook.  If you want to have your own kitchen, you can apply for a studio flat but there aren’t very many of these available.

Another plus is that there is a large supermarket next to the building.

On the downside, this hall is more expensive but you get what you pay for – the quality is great.

However, the location for this accommodation is quite bad. You need to take a bus to both GS and KB unless you’d like to walk more than 40 minutes to the University.

#2

NICOLSON ST AND SOUTH COLLEGE STREET; NEW ARTHUR PLACE

accommodation tips for international students

Credit: University of Edinburgh

Location: 0.5mi to GS, 1.8mi to KB 

Cost Performance: £5020 single room

Who it’s for: Undergraduates and Postgraduates

Recommendation Level:

Flats vary in size with 2 to 4 bedrooms per flat. Rooms are large enough but they’re not ensuite – you share the bathrooms with your flatmates. If you’re into cooking, you’ll be pleased to hear that this is a self-catered hall where you get a well-equipped, communal kitchen to prepare your own meals.  Again, there is a large supermarket nearby which is very convenient.

Although the building is a bit old, it’s possibly the nearest student accommodation to the University of Edinburgh. You should stay there if you have limited budget and want a convenient location.

#3

WEST MAINS ROAD

accommodation tips for international students

Credit: University of Edinburgh

Location: 1.8mi to GS, 0.1mi to KB

Cost Performance: £5095 single room

Who it’s for: Postgraduates

Recommendation Level: 

This is one of the smaller halls but you usually share a flat with about 9 other students.  There are no ensuite bathrooms, so again you share the showers and toilets with your flatmates.  You also share the kitchen as this is a self-catered hall.

The big advantage of this accommodation is that it’s on the Kings Building campus.   I’d recommend you stay there if the lectures and classes for your course take place in KB.   It really is a fantastic location if you don’t want to get up early to catch the 9am class.

Remember though, this hall is available to postgraduates only.  And one of the disadvantages is that if you want to go shopping in the city center, you need to take 30-minute bus ride to Princes Street. Overall, it is a good place if you have all the lectures in KB.

#4

HOLYROOD SOUTH

accommodation tips for international students

Credit: University of Edinburgh

Location: 0.6mi to GS, 1.9mi to KB

Cost Performance: £6103 single room

Who it’s for:  Postgraduates

Recommendation Level: 

This is a new hall that opened in 2014 and you’d share a flat with 3 to 5 other students.  The showers and toilets are split and you share both with other students in the hall, but the toilets you share with your flatmates only.   As this is a self-catered hall you get a fully-equipped, shared kitchen.  In addition, there is a common room where all students living in the hall can hang out and watch DVDs.

The location is good and if you want to enjoy living in quality accommodation, go for this hall. I am sure the nice facilities will make a positive difference to your student experience.

#5

DEACONESS

accommodation tips for international students

Footage credit: University of Edinburgh

Location: 0.6mi to GS, 1.9mi to KB 

Cost Performance:  £5351 single room 

Who it’s for: Undergraduates and Exchange students

Recommendation Level:

This is quite a mixed hall: some parts are older buildings, some parts are new and some have been recently refurbished.  You share a flat and a communal kitchen with 2 to 5 other students, but you get your own bathroom.  If you want your own kitchen, there are about 35 studio flats available so you could apply to one of these.

This hall is just next to the gym, it’s literally just a one minute walk. And more importantly, the location is also where the examinations take place.  Staying in this hall, you’d walk less than five minutes to the exam avenue (regardless of where your lectures usually are, all exams take place near the Pleasance Halls). So if you think you’re going to be at the gym every day and don’t want to worry about getting to your exams on time, pick this hall.

Final Thoughts

accommodation tips for international students

Before booking your accommodation, make sure you know where your classes will take place so you can book something with a convenient location.

The catered residences in Pollock Halls are the only options that offer two meals per day already included in the price of your room.  I would strongly recommend this type of catered accommodation to Freshers (especially undergraduates) since it can really take time to prepare fresh food every day while you’re learning to live alone and far away from home.

Lastly, in this post I tried to cover the main and most popular accommodation halls.  There are many more accommodation options available on the University of Edinburgh website, so make sure to visit and find out more.

Meet me, Manchun!

Manchun Zhou University of Edinburgh

Born in China, I moved to Singapore for secondary education as a scholar when I was 15. And currently, I am a year 1 economics and finance undergraduate student at the University of Edinburgh.

I love food, music and photography. Feel free to contact me if you want to share your story with me or if you need any help as an international student.

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