do you want a fun-loving flat, quiet study base or sociable hostel?

Flatting
It all sounds pretty cool and romantic when you're at secondary school -- living in a house (that you can decorate however you want!) with a group of friends the same age as you. And it can be an awesome experience. It's a great way to learn about yourself, like, are you a clean freak or a slob? Do you have to do the dishes straight after dinner or can you leave them in the sink for a few days? Do you wait until you've used every last piece of clothing until you decide to wash something?

Choosing who you flat with is a decision that shouldn't be made lightly. You will be living with these people, and quickly learning all their daily habits (good and bad). Living with existing friends is great because you already know each other and it provides plenty of hanging-out time. Just make sure you spend some time apart as well. The other option is to move in with a bunch of 'randoms' -- people you didn't know before. This can be an opportunity to meet new people who may be completely different from you, and be introduced to new circles of friends.

Don't be afraid to ask questions when looking for a flat or flatmates. If you prefer quiet evenings, then living with someone who likes to party all the time won't work. If you like to have a few drinks with friends, then moving into a non-alcoholic flat will bring up some problems.

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Hostel
It can be a nerve-wracking experience -- moving into a hostel full of people the same age as you, some of whom appear to be drinking 24/7.

However, if you've moved away from home to study it's an ideal place to meet new people, and friendships form extremely quickly in a hostel. As well as university O-week activities, most hostels organise hostel-only events early in the year so you can become familiar with the people living around you.

Be careful to divide your time between studying (that's why you're there after all) and socialising when living in a hostel, because the temptation to go visiting other people can be overwhelming when stuck on a tricky essay question.

Spending your first year in a hostel can be a great opportunity to meet a bunch of friends who you would be keen to flat with for your next few years at university.

Halls of residence
Residential halls are places where students can live for the university semesters. They are mostly attended by students who have moved away from home for tertiary study.

The halls in a particular city all differ markedly. You can attend one that's focused on providing a quiet atmosphere. At such halls or colleges, the environment is perfect for students to get ahead in their study. Or you can go to a hall famous for the partying antics of its residents and try to do enough study at the library or in your room to ensure you have a work/life balance.

With parents
Moving out of home isn't cheap. Couple that with everything you need to buy for studying, and working only part-time, the bank account won't be looking too flash.

If you're staying in your home town to study and aren't champing at the bit to move out of home, there's no harm in staying there. All the money that could have gone towards rent, furnishings and food, can go toward study fees. Finishing your studies with no hefty student loan is a realistic achievement.

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Just make sure that you and your parents are on the same footing in terms of what they might expect from you. That could mean paying board or helping out with cooking and other jobs.

Lodging with extended family or family friends
This could work similarly to living at home, although a more formal rent agreement may have to be mapped out.

Staying with extended family or family friends can work well if they live in the area you choose to study in and money is too tight for flatting or a hostel.

Your hosts could be a great source of information about your chosen town for student-dom, which could possibly include the cheaper cafes, student-friendly bars, or the best way to get around town.

Make sure some ground rules are established early. Your hosts may not want your friends trudging through their place at all hours of the night. The same may also go for throwing parties at their place. Let them know some of your own expectations for your stay so everyone's on the same page.--JET MAGAZINE