Accommodation is, it goes without saying, a huge part of your first year at university. It will be your space, a potential chance to make new friends and can often help you determine where you're going to live later in your studies.
The first thing to decide when thinking about accommodation is whether you want to commute from home or move out and find your own accommodation.
There seems to be an unspoken pressure that a lot of people feel when deciding whether to move into halls or not, but don’t let the worry about having the ‘university experience’ push you into a decision that you aren’t really sure about.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both, as well as several factors you should consider when making your decision. It is very important to be honest with yourself and think carefully about your choice as it is a big thing!
Cost of living
One of the biggest things that may impact your decision to move out is the price. For some, staying at home and commuting is a lot cheaper than moving out and paying rent and bills for accommodation. Staying at home comes with the added benefit doing laundry for free and using your parents if you’re low on funds.
Learning how to manage money as a student is a big must! Having to be independent without constant parental supervision can be a good way to learn how to manage your finances on your own. Moving into halls is a first taste of independence, and allows you to build skills and feel integrated with university life.
If you’re living at home, is it close enough to travel to university? If you’re wanting to live in halls, how far is your accommodation from campus?
How will you make that commute - can you walk, bike or bus? Do you need a car if you’re commuting? Commuting often costs money, so you will need to decide whether you can afford the cost of travel.
Commuting is also time-consuming. If you consider that some classes start as early as 9am, and some finish as late as 6pm, will the commute give you enough time at the end of the day to study, or relax?
When most people think of university, the first thing that often comes to mind is partying. Social events and nightlife, for many, is one of the most enjoyable and memorable parts of their journey at university.
If you choose to live at home, would your parents mind you going out and coming back late after nights out, or perhaps having friends over? If you choose to stay in halls, would you feel safe coming back to halls after a night out, including situations where you might be alone?
Of course, if you are more introverted, like me, the social element may not be as big of a deciding factor as others, but it is still something to consider!
University, of course, involves a lot of studying. Being in an environment where you can focus is important. Will living at home give you enough space, quiet and even encouragement to get assignments done? Or would you perhaps feel better having a space of your own to study, and not having your mum ask if you’ve completed your assignments?
Maybe the amount of space you have isn’t something you think about very often, but it is a factor to consider. If you want to move into halls, you may have to share bathrooms, as well as communal areas like kitchens.
Can you deal with having to share intimate spaces as such with people you might not know very well, especially if they turn out to be untidy or have different practices to you? Would you rather have your own comfortable space at home, or do you know en-suite accommodation is a must? If so, factor that into your search.
Happiness and safety
These are by far the most important things to think about. Some people aren’t ready to move out, or just feel better living at home, and that is ok. Moving out can make you homesick and for some, being on your own can be hard to manage. Equally, some people can’t wait to move out. Don’t rush the decision, and research your options nonetheless.
Being somewhere that makes you feel happy and comfortable, whether that is in halls or at home, can affect your work ethic and mental and physical health. It is so important to take care of yourself and do what is best for you. You know yourself much better than anyone else, so be honest and really think about what you feel is better suited to your needs.
Remember: Regardless of what kind of accommodation you choose, you are still very much a part of your university! Everyone has a different experience, so don’t worry if your choice is different to what you think ‘everyone else’ is doing, just do what is best for you.
Zoe studies Drama and English Literature at ARU. Find out more at one of our Open Days.