The Ultimate Hall Guide: Things You Should Know Before Filling Out Your Hall Application Sheets

30 June 2023 | BY

Clueless about staying in hall? These university freshmen will fill you in on all the deets – pros, cons, and experience of staying in hall.

ultimate hall guide - cover image

Congratulations on getting into the university of your dreams! Now, it’s time to decide if you want to join the hall life. We’re sure you have a million questions, and who better to dish advice than current freshmen? They recounted their experiences and things to expect – make sure you read this article before you fill out your hall application form.

Room types 

ultimate hall guide - single roomSingle room with ensuite.
Image credit: Singapore University of Technology and Design

Welcome to hall life, where your spacious bedroom at home is replaced with a significant smaller, yet functional, living space. 

Hall rooms are generally smaller than an average HDB bedroom, so be prepared to invest in storage furniture to maximise the space. Since you’ll have to make the most out of the limited space available, we suggest checking out tiny home-living accounts and tags on TikTok for storage hacks. 

“I bought boxes to make my room neater and colour-coded it for an overall organised look.”

Jen, 21

A room comes with basic furnishings such as a bed, desk, and wardrobe, so you don’t have to fork out too much for your everyday needs. However, those who aren’t used to sharing a room will be in for a culture shock as it’s likely that you’ll have a roommate – double rooms are more common than singles.

ultimate hall guide - singleroom2Single room in Hall 5.
Image credit: Nanyang Technological University

By default, most university halls provide shared bathrooms on every floor. But for a higher price, NTU offers rooms with an ensuite bathroom.

This is my dream hall fr #ntu #ntuhall #dormitory #university #roomtour #universitylife #unistudent #fypsg #fyp #tiktoksg

♬ original sound –🏠 –🏠

This might also be a good time to mention that most halls only have fans installed in the rooms, and air-conditioned rooms are only seen mainly in the newer buildings.

ultimate hall guide - halls3NTU Hall 1, NUS Sheares Hall, NTU Cresent Hall.
Image credit: @holocene.boi, @musicaughthis, STX Landscape Architects

One way to determine if a hall is more atas is to look at its name and general appearance of the building. At NTU, Halls 1-16 are low-rise buildings with cheaper rooms compared to the fancier service apartment-like halls such as Crescent and Tamarind Hall. Meanwhile, NUS’s older halls generally resemble chalets, while the newer residential colleges look like condominiums. 


After talking to these freshmen, we gathered that the average rent ranges from $300-$400 monthly for a double room and $400-$500 for a single room, excluding miscellaneous fees. Extra charges include meal plans, as well as room refrigerator and washing machine usage – we’ll explain what that entails. 

ultimate hall guide - dining areaTemasek Hall dining area.
Image credit: National University of Singapore

Meal plans are straightforward – if you can’t cook, you can purchase a meal plan and eat school cafeteria food every day. Meal plans incur a fee that has to be paid for upfront, and there is a no refund policy – even if you end up hating the canteen auntie’s cooking. 

“If I remember correctly, I paid $25+ per week for my meal plans and there are fixed meal timings. So if you arrive late, you’ll miss a meal and there are no refunds.”

Rachel, 22

That said, NUS allows meal credits to be transferred to friends, which comes in useful if you move out before the end of your semester. 

As for air conditioning, NUS offers both prepaid and “Pay-As-You-Use” plans. Likewise, washing machines operate on a similar system as you pay per laundry load with either $1 coins or mobile payment.

If you want to buy a mini fridge for your room, you’ll have to pay a fee that entitles you to own one. Those who are caught with “contraband” fridges will be penalised. Punishments range from making up for the unpaid fee to getting kicked out of the hall.

“All mini-fridges need to be paid for at the start of your stay. If you get caught free-loading a mini-fridge in your room, the hostels reserve the right to charge miscellaneous fees.”

Jen, 21

ultimate hall guide - amenitiesNewer halls have nicer amenities and may have a higher monthly fee, which contributes to part of the maintenance.
Image credit: @caveman_sean, @athiyyanabila

Even after tallying all the additional costs, staying in a hall is cheaper than renting on your own. Still, it’s quite a significant sum for a university student, and you may want to consider having a side hustle or part-time job to help cover the expenses.

Sometimes, we have extra expenses such as the purchasing of hall shirts, yearbooks, and block funds, all of which are not included in our monthly fees.”

Jo, 21

Pros of living in hall

ultimate hall guide - mapSUTD campus map.
Image credit: Singapore University of Technology and Design

Besides the obvious benefit of staying on campus – being only 5-10 minutes away from the lecture halls – another major perk is having your own space and living with your peers. 

Most universities prioritise hall applications for freshmen and year 2 students so as to give everyone an opportunity to try out hall life, which is a prime opportunity for you to socialise and create a network on campus.

“Since I did not subscribe to a meal plan, my friends and I cook a lot and prepare meals in the shared kitchen; it’s quite fun and feels like I’m living with family.”

Cheryl, 22

ultimate hall guide - hall lifeInter-block games, night cycling.
Image credit: National University of Singapore

Living in a hall means you’ll be part of a vibrant community with around 400 other students. And to keep things interesting, hall communities will host monthly or even weekly activities to help hallmates form bonds. From sports tournaments to dance performances, you’ll have plenty of chances to mingle with freshmen and seniors. 

“The freedom and ability to have impromptu sleepovers is really nice, and the friends you’re with make it more fun.”

Steven, 22

“I love grabbing last-minute supper along “Supper Street” with my friends after midnight study sessions.”

Erica, 22

Cons of living in hall

Frankly, hall life comes with its own set of challenges.

As the saying goes, “the walls have ears”, and that definitely applies to living on campus. Hall walls are thinner compared to typical HDBs, and dealing with inconsiderate neighbours who blast music – or worse – is an everyday occurrence. 

Even if you’re lucky enough to score a single room, there will still be a lack of privacy as you have to share communal areas with other students. And for introverts, there is little alone time to recharge your social battery as you’re constantly surrounded by people, overwhelmed by cohesions and weekly meetings.

Even extroverts may find living away from home challenging after a while.

“Living alone was nice and exciting at the start, but no one warns you of how lonely it can be away from home.”

Jaz, 20

ultimate hall guide - double roomDouble rooms do not have any partitions, which may cause conflicts due to the lack of privacy.
Image credit: National University of Singapore

Minor conflicts with your roommates or neighbours are inevitable as living in close quarters with people from diverse backgrounds and with personalities can lead to friction.

“I did not get along with my roommate initially, but I solved it by talking things out and pointing out what we had issues with. Generally, most people are quite understanding and voicing out each other’s concerns can help solve the issue.”

Jaz, 20

ultimate hall guide - kitchenette and laundry roomSheares Hall kitchenette, Temasek Hall laundry room.
Image credit: National University of Singapore, National University of Singapore

Clean freaks be warned as hall life is similar to camping – we can’t guarantee a 5-star cleanliness rating. It is challenging to maintain the cleanliness of the communal spaces, especially in shared bathrooms, and fellow students may be outright inconsiderate.

Clogged sinks, grimy washing machines, and suspiciously sticky bathroom floors will become your new normal. We highly recommend buying shower slippers – did you know that you can get warts from stepping on filthy floors?

ultimate hall guide - ccasEusoff Hall male rugby team and Eusoff Hall dance production crew.
Image credit: National University of Singapore, National University of Singapore

As part of ensuring an active student lifestyle, those who stay in halls have to participate in multiple co-curricular activities (CCAs) in order to earn points. That’s because the right to live in halls operates on a point system – the more points you earn, the higher the chance of you landing a room the following academic year. 

Some students shared that they took extensive measures and only applied for CCAs that allowed them to rapidly earn points to try to secure their stay in the hall. If you struggle with time management, we recommend prioritising your tasks and allocating enough time to fulfil your CCA responsibilities while maintaining a healthy balance with your studies.

“I slept very late and the lack of rest affected my mood and ability to focus on my studies, which ultimately affected my grades. Another thing to consider is the social pressure to befriend others; you have to understand and prioritise quality over quantity. You need not make friends with everybody – just the ones that truly matter.
Jo, 21

The “rental” experience 

ultimate hall guide - doorsTemasek Hall residents decorated room doors..
Image credit: National University of Singapore

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♬ girls like me don’t cry (sped up) – thuy

It’s tempting to give your hall room a full-blown makeover, but do note that students are not allowed to repaint or drill into the walls in their rooms. Turn to TikTok or Pinterest for renter-friendly decor inspiration and consider investing in Blu-Tack and your favourite polaroids, posters, and artworks to give your room a personalised touch. 

ultimate hall guide - roomsNTU decorated hall rooms.
Image credit: Hey Magazine by NTU

“I like to collect vintage shirts, so I display my favourite pieces on my walls.”

Steven, 22


ultimate hall guide - facilitiesTemasek Hall gym, King Edward VII Hall recreational room.
Image credit: National University of Singapore, National University of Singapore

Staying in hall doesn’t mean you have to be cooped up in your room 24/7. There are plenty of facilities and amenities to explore in each hall, including a kitchenette, gym, sports halls, and recreational lounge rooms, all of which are free for students to use.

Hall rules & regulations

ultimate hall guide - hall1Students are required to keep their noise levels low during quiet hall hours.
Image credit: @claudia.abroad

Understandably, staying on campus means that you’ll have to follow rules and regulations. The general rules set by most universities include no consumption of alcohol on the premises, no visitors after 11pm and being mindful of quiet hours, typically from 10pm onwards.

ultimate hall guide - hall2Image credit: Nanyang Technological University

5 Must-have items to bring with you when you move in

This is probably the most important part of the entire article – have this page on hand before you move into hall. We asked existing hall residents what were the top 5 essentials they brought with them on moving day to make their room more comfortable and reflective of their tastes.

ultimate hall guide - essentials1Image credit: Shopee, IKEA

“Remember to bring a shower basket if you use shared bathrooms. They’re a lifesaver when it comes to efficiently storing and carrying your toiletries around. Air fresheners will come in handy when you need to rid your room of that musty hall scent. 

Consider bringing in more chairs – bring your own desk chair and keep space-saving foldable ones on hand so that your friends have a place to sit when they drop by. If you’re planning to use the washers, keep a stack of $1 coins in your room in case mobile payments aren’t accepted.”

Nikki, 19

ultimate hall guide - essentials2Image credit: 小红书, 小红书

“I brought my mini projector from home and kept snacks in my room to satisfy my late-night cravings. Also, most students buy an electric multi-use pot to conveniently boil instant noodles in their rooms.”

Lex, 22

ultimate hall guide - essentials3Image credit: 小红书, Muji, Lazada

“I was never a big fan of house chores, but after moving into hall, I realised the importance of having a clean environment as it helps me think clearer during my panic attacks. My top 5 essentials are mostly cleaning products: magic mop, broom, air humidifiers, wet wipes and hangers.”

XinYi, 20

Ultimate hall guide

The idea of independence and living away from your parents for less than $1,000 per month sounds like a dream in today’s rental market, but it comes with a rigid set of rules and requirements and a lack of privacy.

That said, staying in hall helps develop your social skills and strengthen your sense of financial responsibility as you look after your own expenses. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you can better determine if you’re ready to immerse yourself in hall culture or if you’d rather take long train rides to campus every day.

For more tips to decorate your hall:

Cover image adapted from: @ytridentx, Hey Magazine by NTU

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