Pros and Cons to being a 'Living at Home' Student
Many reasons can determine your decision for living away or at home as a student. I am a 'Living at Home' medical student with placements, and here are the reasons behind my choice and also an evaluation of my circumstances. I hope this is able to provide some clarification, as when I was choosing a university I did not really know what I was looking for.
Making FriendsThose living in halls have a head start when making friends. Generally they move in about a week before term, take part in all the freshers events and get to know everyone they are living with. Making friends this way is really easy, especially as halls tend to mix courses, so you do not spend all day in lectures with people you are living with.
If you do not live at uni, on your first day it can be a bit daunting as you may not know anyone there. Fear not! So many other people are in the same position as you! The nice thing about uni is that everyone talks to each other and it is really easy to make friends. There can be a divide between 'Living at Home' and 'Living Away' students, but friendship groups do mix. No matter where you live, you will make good friends.
Going OutI do like a night out however this happens quite infrequently. I live 30 minutes away from uni, in a very rural location lacking in any means of public transport, where none of my friends live. A taxi back to my house would start at £30. This is why I rarely venture out.
Saying this, there are ways to go out as a 'Living at Home' student. I have had many offers from friends offering me their floors or sofas if I want to crash at theirs instead of going home. It is not the same as going back to your bed, but it does mean the party lasts longer until you have both passed out. The other solution is to ask a willing volunteer to pick you up...
Living on or near campus is perfect is you enjoy a night out! All unis are placed with either a club on campus, or are close enough to town so you can take your pick of the bars! You are surrounded by people also going out, so you know the taxi fare can be split all ways.
MoneyThis is the big decider in most cases. Accommodation at uni is usually over £100 a week when in halls in your first year. Second year and onwards, if you choose to live off campus or out of university halls, these prices can increase, whilst not including your rates and bills. Accommodation close to uni also tends to be more expense than further away, so if you have to commute, this may cost even extra.
Staying at home has perks for this. In my situation, I live with my parents which is great as they do not charge me rent and they sometimes cook dinner for me. This slashes the money I would spend at uni, and means that the money I earn can go into savings or be used for fun stuff! I have also found that my car and motorcycle insurance is cheaper as I am a 'Living at Home' student, instead of a 'Living Away'.
Student Maintenance LoanAs a student, your maintenance loan depends on your parents income, unless you are over 25 or have evidence that you are not supported by your parents at all. If you live at home, your maintenance loan is automatically capped at a certain level, whilst 'Living Away' students can get up to twice as much as 'Living at Home' students can. This matters if you do not have a job or have to pay rent when living at home. Some degrees can be very hectic, meaning there is little time to earn money. However, generally, if you live at home, you do not have the same expenses and in the long run, would not be spending as much money.
CommutingGoing to and from uni can be a nightmare if you are a 'Living at Home' student depending on where you live and which uni you are attending. Most unis have a car park, or are linked with a park and ride scheme, but make sure to check this out before applying because honestly, commuting has the potential to be such a nightmare. I am against paying for parking, I refuse to pay! My tip is to drive around the area to look for places to park where you will not get a ticket. Find streets without permit holder restrictions, or small car parks that do not have restrictions. I park roughly 20 minutes away from uni and walk in everyday, it takes me roughly the same time as driving as I do not hit the same amount of traffic on the outskirts of town. If you speak to the years above you on open days or induction days, they will be able to provide you with advice on how they or their friends commute in. Another trick is to use parkopedia.co.uk to find cheap and free car parks. If you ride a bicycle or a motorbike, there is usually free parking which is a perk.
Living on campus is great as usually all you have to do is roll out of bed and walk 5 minutes into your lecture hall or lab. I'm jealous! However when you move off of campus, the distance will probably be further, so you will find yourself with a walk or bicycle ride in. Also, most unis do not have parking for students living on campus, so you will most likely find yourself without a car.
PlacementDepending on the subject area, you may or may not go on placement. Most medical degrees go on placement which poses a challenge in itself. For my degree, it is almost essential to have a car because our placement could be up to 2 hours away from where we live and we finish at all times during the day so public transport is a no go. Living at uni is more interesting, people are unlikely to be respectful if you are trying to sleep, you may not be able to travel easily and you have to be self-reliant! No one is there to help you make food or do your washing.
For me, living at home is much easier because I know I can definitely park my car and my family are supportive. They provide respect if I am sleeping during the day after a night shift, and will make me lunch or dinner if I ask. Juggling life things and placement can be tricky to begin with so these things really help, I am so grateful! Living at home takes some of the stresses out of placement, making life just a little bit easier.
Home LifeIf you enjoy home life, it can be really hard when you leave home. Missing parents, siblings, friends and pets can be really hard and make you homesick. Even though you are surrounded by people, it is normal to feel lonely sometimes. You get used to being away from home, and coming back is such a huge treat, however you can miss major things by being away. Travelling home can also be expensive depending on how far away you are based. Petrol and train fares can be extortionate!
I love being at home. I can keep my jobs and I get to spend time with people who mean so much to me. I could not bear to be away from my pets and as everyone around me gets older, I cherish the time I can spend with them. My friends have all travelled away to uni so I miss them, however getting involved with the community is a great way to make another circle of friendship.
Obviously, one of the most important things about university is the course. Does your chosen do your course, and will you enjoy it? Is it what you want? All courses have different structures depending on the uni, so do not settle for what you want, be selfish and choice what is right for you. It is expensive, and three years of your life which will give you a title forever! Make the most of it.
I am really lucky to have been able to stay at home for uni. I have been able to stay with those who mean the most to me whilst also having my own version of the 'University Experience'. I have been able to keep my life whilst studying, and the stresses of moving out have been put on hold whilst taking, probably, one of the most important steps in my life. All of my worries about making friends were abolished, and I have managed the occasional night with my new uni pals with the help of my friends (thanks for your floors) and family (thanks for your lifts). Commuting has been interesting but, as always, there is always at least one solution to the problem.
I wish you good luck in choosing your option, and as always, please do not hesitate to ask me any questions if you wish!