If you’re planning on heading off to university next year, you’ll no doubt be trying to figure out the expenses side of things. One way of making massive savings and allowing your student loan to stretch as far as possible, is to live at home and commute to university, paying little or no rent to your parents, if they have the space, disposable income and patience (!) to keep you for another three years.
Here are the pros and cons of staying at home for uni, to help you decide if it’s something you want to do.
Living at home for uni: the pros
Money. The most obvious of the pros, and probably the reason you’re reading this article in the first place. The latest NUS and Unipol survey, which looked at the costs of 336,000 UK halls, found (unsurprisingly) London has the highest average weekly rent (£157.48), and the cheapest rooms are in Northern Ireland (£83.01).
Even at the cheapest end of the scale you’re looking at about £400 a month to stay in student halls, and then from second year on – when most students move into shared, privately rented houses/flats with their uni friends, that can fluctuate massively, depending on what city you live and, and what area in that city you decide to rent in.
Living at home will (probably) either eliminate this big cost, or drastically reduce it, through little or no rent being charged, and being able to share the contents of the family fridge, bathroom and electricity/water bills!
Health. Staying at home will probably mean healthy, hot meals on the reg, as well as (slightly) fewer nights out – good for your health, your head and ultimately your exam results!
Friendships at home. Heading off to university can sometimes spell the end of school friendships, or at least put a halt on them for a few years. By staying at home you could maintain links with childhood friendships, and even those with your annoying younger siblings or (shock horror) your parents.
Life admin. Changing address can be a massive hassle when it comes to bank statements, student loan correspondence, phone bills etc. If you stay at home you won’t need to do this, which can also help your credit rating: the more you change your address the worse your credit rating becomes, as it’s seen as a sign of instability.
Living at home for uni: the cons
Commuting. Depending on where home is, your commute to lectures could be significantly longer than if you lived in halls or near your university. Not only does this mean you’ll have to be more organised with getting places on time and might resent travelling in for just an hour lecture, for example, but it could work out fairly pricy: check train and bus journeys (and ticket prices) before committing to living at home for uni.
Limited choice. If your family home isn’t near a university you are keen on, or any courses you want to do, then living at home probably isn’t worth the potential savings you could make: first and foremost you should be attending a course you actually want to study.
‘Missing out’. It could potentially take home-living students longer to make friends at university, as many first year friendships are forged in student halls rather than the lecture theatre. However – as most graduates will attest – it’s the friends made in the latter stages of first year, not the ones in the first few weeks, that often last the longest.
Parents! Living at home will only work if both you and your family are happy to compromise: you will have to adhere to whatever rules they set out for you, so that’s probably not rolling home at 3am and cranking up the Spotify, or leaving traffic cones in the living room as mementos of your ‘crazy’ nights out.
They will also have to be willing to allow more freedom than they did while you were at school. It’s worth sitting down and having a grown-up, sensible conversation about what you both expect before making any decisions about living at home for uni.