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Students' life

Student accommodation vs rental apartment: pros and cons

After getting their visa and being admitted to the dream university, students must look for a suitable place to live in the Czech Republic during their studies.

Alexandra Baranova, the GoStudy blog writer, looks at pros and cons of living in a student accommodation vs renting an apartment.

Our graduates of 2019, now first-year students at Prague’s universities

Our graduates of 2019, now first-year students at Prague’s universities

Seven in one kitchen

… and seven in one room and queueing up for bathroom in the morning. You should be prepared for that if you are going to live at a student accommodation in the Czech Republic. But do not fear, not everything is as bad as it sounds.

Nevertheless, there are a few things you should know about if you are looking to stay in a student accommodation.

  • Students choose to live in a student accommodation mostly because it’s economical. In big cities like Prague, there are good quality halls of residence for students, where everyone has individual rooms with en-suite bathrooms. The cost for a room like that can be quite high, which makes it less economical.
  • Student accommodation implies sharing everything you have: time, space, food, etc., even if you don’t want to do it at all.
  • They say you cannot choose your family. This is true for the student accommodation roommates as well. A roommate can become a lifetime friend or someone who makes your life a misery.
  • If you are an introvert, then the student accommodation life is not for you, because you will have no privacy or silence.
  • If you have a serious health condition that requires a certain daily routine, living with roommates can discourage you.
  • If you study medicine or law, you should think twice before choosing a student accommodation as studying these disciplines can be incredibly intense and demanding. If you have a roommate, who comes home late from partying hard, then it is only a matter of time before you start getting on each other’s nerves.
  • A student accommodation is absolutely not for you if you are a perfectionist and obsessed with cleanliness.

However, living in a student ‘beehive’ has its benefits. What are they?

  • If you feel depressed, you will always find someone to have a cup of coffee with or throw a pity party (like, complain about a bad temper of your tutor).
  • If your printer is out of ink or paper, you can knock on a neighbour’s door or as for help on the dorm Facebook group. You’ll get help sooner than you may expect.
  • Student allowances in the Czech Republic do not comply with the minimum cost of living. If you have run out of flour (salt, sugar, bread, tea, sausage, coffee), refer to the previous section.
  • Living at a student accommodation brings people together. If you are used to living at home until recently, living as a student in the Czech Republic will be your first experience of living independently. People close to you during this time can become your friends for life.
  • Imagine if you are preparing for an exam and suddenly you realise that you just don’t have a clue what something means. You can ask for help, someone might know a thing or two about it.

Cost of living in a student accommodation in the Czech Republic

Cost of living at a student accommodation varies from CZK 2,000 which is around 77 Euro (for place in a 4-bed room) to CZK 7,000 which is around 270 Euro (for a single room).

If after thoroughly considering all the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ you decided against staying at a student accommodation in the Czech Republic, then your only option is to live in a rented apartment.

Students in the Czech Republic can either:

1) Rent an apartment together with other students
2) Rent an apartment only for themselves

The first choice will still have the disadvantages of living in a student accommodation; you will have to share the bathroom and kitchen with other people. This option is for students who cannot accept the concept of living at a shared halls of residence but are not against sharing the space with roommates in a comfortable and modern flat.

The other alternative is for those who:

  • appreciate comfort
  • prefer living independently
  • is a student and (or) works a lot
  • can afford it financially

Cost of living in an apartment for a student in the Czech Republic

Cost of a rented apartment may vary depending on the region or city. The average cost of one-bedroom apartment in a good area in Prague is about CZK 12,000-15,000 (460-580 Euro) exclusive of utility bills. In province, this can be 20–30% cheaper.

Here is a list of differences between living in an apartment and at a student accommodation:

  • In some student accommodation there are rules that students must follow, like moving out or to another room for the summer. You have to be ready to pack up quickly. Living in a rented apartment you just live together with others as per the terms of the tenancy agreement.
  • By agreement with the apartment owner, you may even be allowed to have a pet. In this case you must be ready for extra repair expenses as you will have to repair the floorboards or replace wallpaper damaged by the cat’s scratching etc. Pets are not allowed in student accommodation.
  • When you live alone in a rented apartment, you can have guests who can stay overnight and there is no need to worry about coordinating it with others.
  • You can decide where in the the city you want to live, in a high-rise building or in an old building with 2-meter high ceilings. You can usually find a studio in an old district in Prague at a good price.

Despite all the obvious benefits of living in a rented apartment, there are drawbacks you should consider.

  • Owners of the apartments to let are not always friendly.
  • A tenancy agreement is the only document allowing the tenant to live in the apartment. However, the owner can ask the tenant to move out if they decide to sell the apartment.
  • A tenant usually addresses all the matters concerning the maintenance of the apartment, from repairing the washing machine to purchasing new hinges for a closet. The owner will only pay for a part of the expenses at best.
  • Utility bills can be considerable, especially if you live in an old house that should be well heated in winter.
  • A rented apartment can be furnished or unfurnished. An unfurnished apartment will require additional investment furniture etc.
  • It might be difficult to find an apartment to rent close to the university if you want o stay within your budget. It’s very likely that the apartment you like and can afford is located at the other end of the city.
  • The cost of living at a student accommodation usually remains the same throughout the course of the program. As for a rental apartment, the owner may increase the rent after the first year.
  • Looking for an apartment, you cannot predict what kind of people your neighbours will be. At a student accommodation, you are not the person who has to deal with troublemakers. When you rent accommodation, you might have to deal with the noisy and inconsiderate neighbours yourself.

Whatever your final choice, good luck in your search and settling down in your new home!

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Alina Baeva 22 December 2020