Choosing what university to go to is a hard enough decision itself without the burden of deciding whether to live in student halls or commute from home. I was lucky enough to have both experiences so can shed some light on the pros of cons of each to hopefully give you a little insight.
Commuting from home
In my first year I decided to commute from home, I wasn’t quite ready to throw myself into being fully independent and lived on the outskirts of London anyway. My sister was worried that I would miss out on student life, but at Pearson College London it’s pretty much a half and half split between people who live at home/in halls so that wasn’t the case at all. Often if I went on uni nights out I would stay over at a friend’s who did live in halls, or travelled home with someone who lived nearby.
My commute from home is just a one hour bus and tube ride away so is not too long. However, a few people in my friendship group travel two hours plus to and from uni nearly everyday so its not uncommon. I know they utilise their time by watching lectures/doing uni work on the train when they can, and also make the most of a student railcard to cut down on travel costs. If you do have a long commute, this is where watching lectures online comes in handy; for example if a lecture is the only thing you have timetabled, or if there is a big gap between the lecture and seminar on some days, you can watch the lecture online – still counting towards your attendance as long as you watch it live.
Living at home is often a lot cheaper than living in student halls – not having to independently fund London’s extortionate rent, expensive groceries and other necessities. Plus, you don’t have to stray away from all of your home comforts. On the other hand, there are certainly some downsides to living at home – my family can be pretty distracting sometimes and I would say its harder to focus within my constantly busy house. There is a sense of weighing up your situation to see what you would benefit more from.
Living in halls
By the end of my first year, I did have slight FOMO of my friends who lived in accommodation and was ready to have the full uni experience. So in my second year I stayed in a ‘Two-dio’ Flat at Grand Felda House in Wembley with one of my Pearson College London friends. It was a lovely building for mixed unis so great to meet other students as well. It was great to be in an environment where you were all going through the same journey – with a common room for socialising or silent study areas during exam season. Plus, being only a 30-minute journey from central London it was easy to meet up with friends living in other accommodation.
For me, the major downside to living in halls in London is the cost. Rent is through the roof, and I was lucky that my student loan just about covered it, but it also meant that I had to work two part-time jobs to fund my regular living costs. This also means that nights out/eating out is not cheap, but you just have to take precautions to make sure you’re making the most of your money, and there are plenty of student discounts to exploit (e.g. UNiDAYS and student oyster cards). I know students that looked into sharing a house as well, which is usually a lot cheaper than student accommodation.
Weighing it up
I am now in my final year and have moved back home to focus on my studies and save some money. Although I miss rolling out of bed that little bit later and having a laugh with my roommate, I do not miss forking out £185 a week rent, and the noise of other students at 3AM when I was trying to sleep. At the end of the day, it has to be your decision whether you want to live at home or in halls and you have to seriously consider what is right for you, what you can afford but most importantly: what will help you enjoy your uni experience the most!
- By Sophie Everett (3rd year Business Management with Marketing student)