Starting university is often overwhelming – accompanied by a flurry of emotions and changes in a life. For most of us, our lives have remained relatively static and stable for a long period of time. There are so many choices we need to make such as which course we want to study and where. Needing to choose where we want to live or which activities we want to involve ourselves in.
Some of these choices are more straightforward than others. Where we want to live, even if it’s just for a year, tends to occupy much of our time. Do we want to live in university accommodation? Do we want to live in private accommodation? Stay at home? When I was choosing, this decision was fraught with tension.
On the one hand, I wanted to stay at home because my chosen university was close to home. In doing so, I would save a lot of money. On the other hand, I felt that this would result in having fewer friends. Also, I thought that as everyone else gained newfound independence I would be left behind. In the end, I eventually elected to live at home. In this article, I endeavor to explain why I don’t regret living at home and the drawbacks of doing so.
Probably the most obvious answer to why you would want to stay at home would be the economic benefits. You will likely be paying a lot less rent than your peers if any at all. On top of that, you’ll probably be paying less for groceries, laundry, utilities, than they will be. This comes as a result of having parents/guardians helping you out. You will get a few thousand less in your maintenance grant if you are getting one. However, you will likely need a lot less than what you have. Consequently, you will have more disposable income – for drinking, or eating, or saving, whatever you want to put it towards. For me, this extra cushioning means that I don’t have to get a job alongside university. This in itself offers a massive advantage for my social life and my academics.
Your family (or those you are living with at home) will give you more than economic support. They will be an invaluable support system in general. Of course, your family will likely support you regardless of whether you are living at home or not. However, support from afar and support up close are two very different things. It’s true, you can call your parents on FaceTime after a bad day. Yet, nothing compares to being able to come home and have someone who cares hug and/or comfort you after a bad day. You will have someone to console you when you are tired or sick. Also, when you are stressed with deadlines, you are more likely to have someone to pick up the slack. Someone will be there to bring you a
However, there is a flip side. Sometimes the people we live with can be a little too observant, or overbearing. Personally, I don’t get through a single day without a litany of questions such as what time I’m in university the next day or if I am eating out. These questions can get a little too much sometimes. This is the case despite knowing that they’re coming from a place of affection and concern. It’s not a dealbreaker – or at least, not to me. Yet, it is noteworthy. Depending on your family dynamics, you may spend a lot of time discussing your schedule. This is not something you would have to do while living on your own.
In turn, this can also sometimes make it more difficult to get out. So too does living far from what your friends do around campus. Thus, more effort is required. However, I can almost guarantee that if you put the effort in, you will still make friends. You will end up with the same social life as those living on campus, if you want it. Probably, you will have to wake up earlier than your peers to get to the same lectures as a result of needing to commute. This can be upsetting, especially when you are tired from pulling an all-nighter to meet deadlines.
Early on, you will see your friends happy at the prospect of meeting new flatmates or revamping their room. Yet, when this is all happening, you will still find yourself in your childhood room. You may feel that your life is not moving forward and this can make you feel frustrated. You might feel that you are missing out on something integral, even central to your personal growth. If you’re suffering this, I can promise you that you are not missing out.
The truth is, some people are ready to move out, and that is great. If you are in that position, I am happy for you. However, I was not in that position. To the other people that are not ready, I am here to say that it’s okay. I know that initially, you might feel that you are being left behind. Yet, you will get over it. Most importantly, you will