It is a good thing to remember that accomodation is guaranteed for all international (Non-EU) students throughout the duration of their degree. I find this to be incredibly convenient as, coming from Canada, I have no time to come here during the summer to look at houses or apartments. As long as you apply within a given deadline (the “guaranteed” deadline), you are pretty much set in terms of living arrangements.
Having spent one year in university in Canada, and having stayed in a dorm-style residence, I know there is a huge difference between acommodation there and here. For one, I used to share a room. In the UK, sharing a room is usually rare and most have their own room at least. Secondly, I also shared bathrooms (with about 10 other girls). Here, you can opt for your own ensuite OR share with maybe 5 or 6 people, depending what you go for. The third difference is that I used to have a meal plan — that is, a set amount of money to spend around the campus. Here, I have more freedom with grocery shopping and making my own meals among other things.
There are six different categories, or “Bands” of rooms you can apply for. Here is the link to check out what each Band offers: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/accommodation/about/index.htm
There are always students who prefer to live off campus, maybe on their own or with someone. Guildford has many areas that are ideal. It is always good to either be walking distance from the Uni, or have a flat/house on the bus route (there are certain buses that go directly to Uni and it’s definitely more convenient to be somewhere where you can access them instead of changing buses a ton of times). A student bus card is about £148, which is an amazing discount from the regular price (£670!) so it’s totally worth it.
I am currently living off campus, in a flat slightly out of town. So yes, I do take the bus every morning. It takes me only about 20 minutes to reach campus. The only thing is that I have to pay utility bills (electricity, water and broadband) — this is all included in university accomodation. I will be moving into campus accomodation next year, simply because its just more conveneint for me. In the end, its up to what you like in terms of making a decision!