Once you’ve been accepted onto your university course, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is where you’re going to live – and there are plenty of choices available!
For a lot of people, there won’t be any question that they’ll be living in halls for their first year. But if you’re a bit of a ‘homebody’ or just don’t like the idea of living with a bunch of people you don’t know, you may be considering living at home and commuting to university - at least for the first semester in light of the COVID-19 lockdown.
To help you weigh up your options, we’ve pulled together a guide that outlines the pros and cons of living at home, as well as some simple ways not to miss out if you do choose to commute for your first year!
Pros of living at home during university
You’ll definitely save money
Your accommodation is a one of the biggest expenditures you’ll have at uni, with the average student maintenance loan coming in at approximately £6,480 a year*. By living at home for the first year, you could decide not to take out your first year maintenance loan and ultimately leave university with less student debt.
Not only that, but you’ll likely be spending less money on food and utilities, as your parents are unlikely to let you starve!
*National Student Money Survey, Save the Student
You might not love your uni flatmates
While some flatmates hit it off straight away, for others… not so much. Whether it’s their grim eating habits or the fact they never take the bins out, not everyone has a harmonious living situation in student halls.
The benefit of living at home is that you already know you get along with your parents, and there’s a low risk of you coming across any of their irritating living habits that you wouldn’t already have been aware of!
You might get fed…
If you’re living with your parents or guardians during university, they may be happy for you to eat out of their cupboard – so you could end up saving money on food and toiletries, as well as your accommodation and transport. Even setting aside the financial benefits, there’s nothing like a bit of home-cooking – we’re not all natural chefs, after all!
Although if you are going to live at home, your “landlords” may appreciate the offer of a contribution to rent or food, if you can afford it!
You won’t get homesick
Even the most independent students get homesick from time to time – living at home eliminates any worry about missing your family or childhood home while you’re away at university.
You might study harder at home
It goes without saying that there will be fewer distractions when you’re living at home – your parents are going to be a lot more invested in you finishing your assignments than your flatmates are!
But fewer distractions means longer, higher-quality study time – although you should still make sure you schedule in plenty of time for breaks!
Cons of living at home during university
You may get more independence in halls
While living at home has many benefits, one of the downsides is that your parents are able to keep tabs on you in a way they wouldn’t if you were living in halls. You may also have less opportunity to learn those all-important life skills that allow you to become independent – such as washing your clothes and cooking your own meals.
It could be harder to meet people
While social media and WhatsApp make it really easy to stay in touch from afar, it can still be more difficult to get involved in the social side when you’re living at home. Halls of residence is one of the primary places you’ll meet people during your first few weeks at university, so you could find that commuting from home could make it more difficult to meet people outside of your course.
You’ll still have to spend money on commuting
While you’ll save loads of money on food, utilities and accommodation, you may find that you end up spending more on the costs of transport to commute to and from campus.
If you decide to drive for example, you’ll need to pay for the car itself as well as road tax, MOT and student car insurance.
No last-minute study sessions
One of the fun things about university is having all of your friends close-by, so needing to factor in extra commuting time around social events can make it harder to be spontaneous. It can also make things like impromptu study sessions a little less appealing, especially when you’re trying to make it home in time for dinner – but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan something in with a bit more notice!
You won’t get as much practice at budgeting
While you’ll save loads of money, you might miss out on some of those valuable skills you only learn when you’re living alone for the first time – like managing a student budget and paying bills.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t still get budgeting practice at home – having an agreement in place with your parents to pay them a certain amount toward rent, food and utilities each month will provide you with plenty of experience of managing your finances, while still saving money.
4 ways not to miss out while studying from home or your uni is doing its first term online!
1. Join all the social media groups
First things first - connect with people from your course or future accommodation by scouring the social media sites for groups and forums relating to your university.
2. Find some study-buddies
Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you have to study alone. Setting up an online study group early in the semester could be a quick way to make friends with like-minded people from your course – and help you keep on top of your assignments!
3. Get involved with clubs and societies
Whether it’s the debate society or a sports club, joining a group that meets regularly will help you make new friends outside of your halls or study course. With regular socials, training and matches, clubs and societies present plenty of opportunities to meet like-minded people who share your interests.
4. Find some friends to crash with
It can be easy to feel like you’re missing out when you’re living at home – especially when it comes to nights out, where commuters usually end up as the designated driver (or skipping it altogether).
Finding some friends that don’t mind you crashing on the sofa occasionally will allow you to enjoy some nights out without worrying about how you’re going to get home.
Making sure you’re covered at university
If you’re starting university for the first time, have you checked your essential gadgets and belongings will still be protected? You may also require student car insurance if you’re commuting to uni from home.
Check whether your contents are already covered by Endsleigh in your university accommodation here.
Need to top up your cover? Find out more about student insurance.