This sticky replaces the old megathread
, which grew from a single question. This is the new place for all your questions and chat on the subject of whether you want to move into halls or stay at home for uni.
Probably the most commonly cited reason for living at home is finance, and the belief that it will be far cheaper to live at home. However, for many people it is no more expensive to live in halls. Things you should take into account include
- Travel costs – this is clearly going to vary from person to person, but you should check out www.nationalrail.co.uk for train prices, and if you will have to take a bus include that too. Base your calculations on having to be in uni five days a week, by 9am. Even if you are on a course that only has 8 contact hours a week, you can be in for five days a week. If you plan to drive, be aware that most universities have no free parking unless you have a blue badge, so you will probably have to pay for parking too.
- The time taken for you to travel in to / home from uni. Ensure that you calculate the door-to-door time, not just the time spent on the train. Now, what else could you do with that time? If you (say) had a one hour commute each day, that's 10 hours a week. If you were to spend 10 hours a week in a part time job, you would earn at least £61.90 (i.e. most of the cost of a place in halls), and you would have the work experience that graduate employers want to see.
- Taxis – when you do go on nights out with friends from uni, consider how you will get back home again. You can't count on being able to sleep on someone's floor – especially in the early days as you won't know them well enough, and public transport will have stopped running.
- Your parents may charge you rent
- Student Finance – if you live at home, you will receive around £1,100 less per year in the form of maintenance loans
- Bursaries – many universities include money off accommodation as part of their bursary package.
It's not impossible to make friends if you live at home, but you are making your own life harder. There are, for most people, three main sources of friends: course, halls and societies.
If you live at home, then clearly you won't have any friends from halls, and depending on the uni this may mean that Fresher's Week is something of a write off too, because most people will go out with their new flatmates.
Some courses don't socialise with each other – mine doesn't, for instance. I'm a perfectly social person with plenty of friends from outside my course, but I don't know anyone from my course who is more than an acquaintance. This tends to be more common for people on larger courses where group work is not a regular feature of the degree.
Societies can be a good way to make friends, but do be aware that some societies are such an intense commitment that living at home just makes participation impractical to the point of being impossible. For instance, in first year I was part of a sports society that involved practice around 3 times a week, more in summer, and often starting at 6am, plus gym sessions, plus weekends away to compete. It was hard enough when I was living in halls, but not one person who was living at home managed to get (and stay) involved. This isn't the case with all societies, as some will only want you to do stuff once a week, but the more intense societies do tend to be the ones where lasting friendships build up.
For many people, moving away from home is a chance to gain independence from their parents, and to learn life skills. Living in halls means that your mum isn't going to be telling you to tidy your room, but you will have to learn to cook and do your own laundry (which, let's face it, you've got to learn how to do sooner or later). Of course, this can lead to some mishaps (which will invariably later be told as funny stories!), but invariably communal areas will be cleaned by a cleaner, which keeps the worst of it under control. Many people cite this as being one of the more valuable aspects of going to uni.
Unlike at A Level, even when degree courses at two different universities have identical names and UCAS codes, they will invariably have very different content. This is because what's taught tends to be based around the staff's research and interests, and each university gets to set its own exams. This means that if you move away from home, then you will have far more choice between courses, and will be able to find a course that suits you best.
Depending on your grades and where you live, you may be able to get into a better uni if you move away. For instance, I am from Bristol, but I didn't have the grades for University of Bristol. I did have the grades for UWE, but by choosing to move away I was able to get offers from Russell Group universities including Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds.
When you're actually at uni, being close to campus has the advantage of easy access to facilities such as the library. This means that if you suddenly realise you need a book, it's really easy just to pop over and get the book out rather than having a two hour round trip (which, let's face it, isn't going to happen).
This may be just me, but I actually found it easier to work in halls than I did at home. This was because whilst my parents found it impossible to comprehend that coming in every five minutes to chat / asking me to look after the grandparents / similar wasn't conducive to working, my flatmates (a) had work of their own to do, and (b) understood that if my bedroom door was shut, then I was probably working and so shouldn't be disturbed if possible.
Finally, at my own university (and I have no reason to believe that this isn't something that isn't replicated at other unis), the group that is most likely to drop out of university is those that are living at home, which is food for thought.
With all that said, living at home can be better if . .
So are there any benefits to living at home?
- You have significant family responsibilities e.g. you are a carer for a family member, or you have a child of your own. In the latter instance, some universities do offer family accommodation, but you may find that the support you get at home (e.g. childcare) is worth staying at home for
- You have significant mental / physical health problems that mean you can't live independently, even with support from the university. Universities do have excellent disability support services, and can provide you with adapted accommodation, a non-medical helper, equipment and various other means of support, so I would urge anyone in that situation to talk to their university before making any decisions, but for some people living at home will turn out to be the only realistic option.
- If you live next door to the university, then it probably will work out cheaper, but there are still all the other factors (e.g. social life and independence) to consider, though as mentioned above not all unis will give you accommodation if you live nearby.
- Mum will (probably) still do your washing and cooking for you (though some will say that this is a point where you should be gaining independence and learning to do these things for yourself)
- If you have many friends who are not going to uni / living at home for uni, then it can be easier to stay friends with them. However, be prepared for people to drift as they get jobs elsewhere, go to uni elsewhere and make new friends. It's unlikely that things will remain how they were at school / college. In addition, it will make it harder to make new friends at uni.
- You get to see your family every day (though you may, or may not, see this as a benefit!)
- Finance (possibly - see above)
One option can be to move into halls for first year, and then make a decision about second and third year later on. By that point, you know what living away from home is like, so you can make an informed decision, and you will have made a group of friends that you will keep for the rest of your degree.
The only potential snag to this is that some universities won't offer local students a place in halls, though this does vary from uni to uni. If this is the case, then you could
- try and find out how likely it is that a place will become available in uni halls in the first few weeks of the year
- opt for private halls
- find a room in a house share
I know quite a few local students who moved into halls, and only one has chosen to move back home, which indicates to me that they prefer living away from home!
This is intended to be a work in progress, so I'll incorporate your questions / comments / criticisms into this post as time goes on
Last edited by 04MR17; 1 month ago