How to Choose a Residence at University

Either you’re first moving into residence or you’re going into your second year, either way you need t consider what residence is best for you. Every university has the huge party house or the study intensive one, or the beautiful one. This article will tell you what to consider and how to choose a residence at university.


Ah yes, didn’t think of this one did you? If you are a light sleeper, you’re going to want a residence with thicker walls. You might think the newer residences are better for that, but that isn’t always the case. The newer ones may have been more focused on making them look nice but may have stinged on making the walls thick. This is also important if you are a heavy studier, or if you are easily startled. One time in first year I woke up terrified because I heard somebody cough in my room. Alas, it was actually the person in the room next to me. I could hear him do other things as well…..

So go on a campus tour and when you’re looking at the residence, knock on the walls and see how they are.

Room Size

Really, this shouldn’t matter to much. What is more important is use of space. Some rooms may have a larger square footage, but the usable space is poor compared to a smaller room. Or, you could not care at all about the size of your room and the other factors are more important to you. If this is important to you, asking what residence has the biggest rooms might not really help you out all that much so it’s best to take a campus tour.


If you are somebody who hates walking around, then location will be a very important factor in choosing the right residence. Waking up and walking two steps to your first class or to meal hall can be a key benefit of any residence but you often have to substitute location for price or quality (that’s how it works with any real estate). This is the easiest to find out. Just go to the university’s website and click on a campus map or equivalent. Just find the residence that is closest to the things that matter most to you.


Some of you are the party type, others are the study type. Depending on this, the proper choice of residence is absolutely imperative. No sense living in the party house if you want a strict quiet hours rule so you can study. Conversely, you don’t want to be stuck with a bunch of studiers on a Friday night when you want to get a little wild. It’s pretty easy to find out which residence is the party one. Search online or speak to past graduates.


Some people want to live in a nice place. I can understand that. If that is the case, then finding the newest or most recently renovated residence is probably your best bet. Keep in mind, there is often a negative correlation (but not always) between how nice a residence is and how crazy it is. The more beat up, old residences tend to be more fun to live in. Of course, there are exceptions (ie. MacIsaac, despite what the Residence Office is trying to do). If you don’t care really about how nice the place is, then consider other factors described in this article.


Although this one can go hand in hand with quality, sometimes they differ. For instance, the second nicest normal residence at St FX (MacIsaac) doesn’t have any kitchen facilities whereas Mount St Bernard (the nastiest residence) does. Another example would be that one residence might be old but have a ping pong table, but a newer one might not. Oh, and another thing you might be interested in is having a sink in your room. Thus, find out which amenities are important to you and contact the residence office of the university to find out which has what. Alternatively, go on a campus tour and see for yourself.


If you are a huge community person or love being apart of history, then being in a residence with a lot of pride and history could really enhance your residence life. For instance, at St FX, being in either Burke or MacIsaac instantly makes you part of a very rich history of Burmac. Being part of that epic hockey game would be a great story to tell kids and grandkids, especially if they went on to live there as well. This could mean nothing to some people, a lot to others. What does it mean to you?

Handicap Accessibility

This may be a no brainer if you are handicapped, but some residences just are not accessible by wheelchair or don’t have elevators. Contact the Residence office and let them know on your application of your handicap and they will make sure you end up somewhere that will accomodate you.

Washroom Situation

This is a huge one when you’re in residence, but you seldom consider this when selecting a residence. Don’t make that mistake. Some washrooms these days are co-ed, others are just co-ed individual bathrooms, and others are gender based. Some have showers, other baths. Some are nice, some are nasty. Some have ensuite bathrooms, some privately shared, others shared. These are all factors that should be taken into account.

If you are somebody who is terrified of the opposite sex smelling your bathroom imprint, then a co-ed bathroom probably isn’t right for you. If you like to relax and take a bath from time to time, then making sure there is a bath at that res is a good idea (although I never suggest this anyways). If you are a germaphobe or just like your immense privacy, a private bathroom is a necessity. If you want to try luck out and see some girls towel fall down after she gets out of the shower stall, co-ed is the way to go. If you want to show off your impressive package or body, then private bathroom is a waste.

Nearby Construction or Church

Having construction in your back yard sucks as it will wake you up really early in the morning when you planned to sleep in because you had an afternoon class or Friday off and decided to get destroyed the night before (run on sentence?). When touring the campus, pay close attention to what construction is going on nearby. Similarly, Church bells in the morning can be insanely frustrating, especially if you aren’t religious, although not quite as bad as construction.

Room style

This might very well be the most universally considered factor. Some people might think it is important to have a roommate first year to meet new people or they are just generally sociable. If you are afraid of somebody seeing you naked or not comfortable farting around somebody else, avoid a roommate like the herps. Another thing to consider is the type of the room. Some residences offer apartment style residences, others more upscale hotel like residences. Definitely consider these as it has a significant impact on your residence life.


Throughout this article I have pointed out factors to be considered when choosing a residence. Of course there will never be the “perfect” residence for everybody but hopefully now you know how to choose a residence at university that is perfect (or best) for you.

Alex Dorward

Alex Dorward

Alex is the co-founder of UniversityHub (now CampusRankings) and current Technical Director for CampusRankings. Alex grew up in Ottawa before attending St FX in Antigonish, NS. After graduating, he joined Accenture and is currently a Manager in Accenture Digital.