Want to be a live at home student? This is what you need to know before you decide

Do you want to know  what it’s like to be a live at home student? Hopefully this post will help!

Studying at university costs money. There is no getting away from that. Student expenditure on tuition fees, accommodation, study materials and food and drink can add up to several thousands of pounds each year and most young people leave university in debt.
There is little that you can do about tuition fees as these are set by the university but you can cut down expenditure on food and drink by living as frugally as you can. However, the one area where students can make significant savings is in their choice of accommodation.


One option for students who are worried about being able to afford student life is to live at home with their parents whilst they are studying. According to statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency for the academic year 2015/2016, there were 328,675 students living at home with a parent or guardian. Since 1996, the numbers of UK undergraduates opting to live at home has doubled from 12 per cent to 24 per cent http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2016/09/24/living-at-home-neednt-mean-missing-out-on-student-life/. Becoming a live at home student is no longer an unusual choice and some universities such as The University of Sheffield have specific policies in place to support live at home students. I wanted to explore the implications (good and bad) for the student and for their family.

Why do so many students choose to live at home?

Research carried out more than a decade ago and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation indicated that students from lower socio-economic groups tended to study closer to home due to fears about debt https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/socio-economic-disadvantage-and-experience-higher-education. Therefore, it would be reasonable to hypothesise that increased fears relating to student debt are behind the popularity of staying at home whilst gaining a degree. The study also indicated that a lack of confidence in both academic ability and ability to integrate into some of the more prestigious academic institutions compounded this effect so it seems that psychological factors also play a role here.

A further study completed in 2008 found that a fear of debt was an important factor in a low-income family student’s decision about where to study but not what to study. They favoured universities with low living costs. However, one of the cheapest choices remains staying at home so, to put it bluntly, have we entered an age where the rich kids move out to university and the poor kids stay at home with their parents?
This is a situation that is not unique to the UK. In the USA in 2014, 54% of college students chose to live at home which represented a 43% rise in just four years. Nevertheless, the whole concept of moving far away from your parents in order to study is not a world-wide phenomenon. If you look at data from Europe, the picture is very different. In Portugal, 55% of students live at home with even higher rates in Spain (64%) and Italy (73%) and these rates apply across the socio-economic groups indicating that it is not a financial decision. It is more influenced by cultural ties and tradition.

Live at home student

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The decision to become a live at home student is not an easy one. Obviously, it is primarily the student’s decision but, as their parent, you need to have an input too. Is this what you want for the next three or four years? How will your parenting style have to change? What will be the impact on your relationship with your young adult and with other siblings who are still living at home?
My own daughter chose to study in the same city as we live. In many ways, we are extremely fortunate to have a prestigious conservatoire, a Russell Group university and two other universities within a 5 mile radius of our house. She was offered a place to study music at both the conservatoire and the Russell Group university and chose the former. She also chose not to be a live at home student and moved into halls of residence.



The advantages of being a live at home student

Assuming that the student comes from a supportive family that is happy to provide accommodation whilst they are studying, there are many perks to being a live at home student. My own daughter did not do this so I cannot share my own experiences but I’ve had a search and come up with the following:
1. Support with the practical aspects of life. The student can focus on their studies and on having a good time whilst Mum and Dad do the cooking and cleaning. I have read many statements from students who see this as a fantastic situation but I’m not so sure how their parents feel about it.
2. A quiet environment to work. A family home is likely to be quieter than a halls of residence or a shared house so if the student likes total silence when they are studying I can see that staying at home would be preferable.
3. Continued family relationships. Living at home gives the student an opportunity to play a full role in family life, if they want to. They have the opportunity to see more of their parents, siblings, grandparents and nieces and nephews.
4. Money! If Mum and Dad allow them to live rent free and provide meals (perhaps even the use of the family car) then the live at home student will lead a more comfortable existence and will graduate with less debt. A recent survey of 2,095 students in the UK between 13th – 26th March 2017 by Save the Student reported that live at home students paid around £46 per week which is a lot cheaper than any other sort of accommodation.  (Source: The National Student Accommodation Survey 2017 / www.savethestudent.org)
5. Someone is keeping a close eye on the student’s physical and mental health. Parents are tuned in to their offspring’s well-being, after all they have been doing it for over 18 years. The food will probably be better, the kitchen and bathroom will probably be cleaner and multi-vitamins will be administered as soon as they sneeze.
All of these seem reasonable to me but I can also see that some young people (and parents) would not view all of them as advantages.

Live at home student

The disadvantages of being a live at home student

 

Despite the huge costs of living outside the family home, thousands of young people choose to do it. Some have their heart set on a particular course that is only available miles away from their home town and so they have no choice. Others, like my own daughter, chose an academic institution that is close to home but still elect to move out. This, I am assured, was not because she wanted to get away from us! She and many other students feel that the disadvantages, which I have listed below, outweigh the advantages:
1. Difficulty fitting in. Living in halls of residence can be very challenging, especially for introverted or shy students. However, if you can do it, it is the best way of meeting people. You are thrown together for 24 hours a day and see the best and worst of each other. This is how friendships are forged. The first few weeks can be very confusing and disorientating but you soon start to gravitate towards people that you ‘click’ with. If you live at home, the peer group will form in your absence and there is a danger that you may feel like an outsider.
2. Difficulty attending social events. It can be quite daunting to walk into an event during freshers’ week on your own. If you are sharing a flat in halls of residence then you will probably all attend as a group. You can even have a few drinks together in the flat before you leave.
3. Getting home after social events. When it comes to getting home after social events during freshers’ week (or at any time during the year for that matter) it is true to say that there is safety in numbers. If you can stagger home at 3 am with your mates you will be safer than trying to get back to your family home on your own. Also, many universities lay on ‘safe buses’ that transport freshers from entertainment venues to their accommodation at all hours of the day and night. Mum and Dad may not be so accommodating.
4. Worried parents. Parents will worry and that does not suddenly stop when offspring turn 18 years of age. I am guilty of being a perpetual worrier and my poor kids know that. When they are living under my roof, I have plenty of information to fuel my anxiety. If they don’t come home until 4 am I know about it and I WILL WORRY! Therefore they feel that they have to reassure me that they are okay. However, once my daughter moved into halls of residence, I was forced to let go. She would not be returning to MY house at 4 am and so I just switched off and let her get on with it. I have absolutely no idea where she is or what time she returns home and that is a better situation for both of us. She can relax and have a good time knowing that I am fast asleep and am not pacing the hallway waiting for the sound of her key in the lock.
5. Freedom to lead the life they choose. Let’s face it, we all did things in our late teens and early twenties that we would not necessarily want our parents to witness. Moving out of the family home makes this a lot easier!
6. Growing up. I am not that good at making my kids grow up. I know that if they lived at home I would continue to cook and clean for them and get involved in organising their lives. This is not good for them and not good for me. Once my daughter moved out, she had to act as an adult. I still give advice on food preparation via Facebook messenger on a weekly basis but I don’t have a problem with that! I still ask my Mum for cooking advice sometimes and I’m nearly 50! However, she has had to learn by her own mistakes and that is what becoming an adult is all about.
7. You get a smaller loan. Parents may choose to charge rent but students who live at home cannot borrow so much money. There may be increased travel costs to lectures and taxis home after nights out.
8. You never get the ‘halls’ experience. Living in halls of residence is a unique experience and one that you may never get to do again. Even if it is not entirely positive, as least you can say that you did it. You probably won’t ever get another chance.

Live at home student

It doesn’t always work out the way you wanted it to

I do have some concerns about the way in which educational expectations may be impacting the happiness of young people. There are truly alarming statistics about dropout rates from university as a result of mental health issues. Data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency relating to academic year 2014-15 (the most recent data available) recorded that a worrying 1,180 students who experienced mental health problems left university. This is a 210% increase from 380 in 2009-10. When these figures were reported in the press, charities, counsellors and health experts quite rightly urged higher education institutions to ensure the right support is in place.
Would it be true to say that had these young people lived closer to home their families could have also provided more immediate support? Are families a help or a hindrance in this situation? Are there any figures to show that students who live far away from their families are more likely to drop out? Are they dropping out from living away from home or are they dropping out from university? These are all important questions and I’m afraid that I do not have the answers.

 

Advice for a live at home student

The decision to become a live at home student is entirely personal and what works for one student and their family will not work for another.
I found the arguments for and against were summed up perfectly in this article from the student room https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=2405506.
My daughter is not a live at home student so I do not have any personal observations to share with you but I have collated the following advice that you may find useful:
1. Work hard at your social life. You will probably have to be more proactive in making friends and ironically this is why it may actually be better for an introvert or shy student to live in halls. If you leave your door open in halls, someone is very likely to pop in and say ‘hello’. If you live at home, you’re going to have to go to every social event and go up and introduce yourself to people. Joining societies and clubs may also help.
2. Find other students who live at home. You will instantly have something in common and may even be able to share a taxi home if you live near each other.
3. Hang around the common rooms. This  presents opportunigives a chance to get into conversations with fellow students.
4. Don’t act like a kid. Don’t expect Mum and Dad to do all your cooking and cleaning. Ask for your own food budget and make your own meals sometimes. Do your own laundry and take a turn at cleaning the house. Nothing builds independence like cleaning a toilet!
5. Get a job. This is especially useful if you get a job in the university or on campus. It gives an added opportunity for meeting people.
6. Get help from university. Many universities provide special support for students who are living at home.
I wrote this post primarily because it was exactly what I wanted to read a few years ago when my daughter was trying to choose whether to live at home or move into halls. She chose to live in halls and never regretted it. I hope it helps you to make the right decision too.
I’d love to hear about your experiences as a parent or a student if you chose the live at home option. Please do add them to the comments below.

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  23 comments for “Want to be a live at home student? This is what you need to know before you decide

  1. September 15, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    This is a really interesting post and one which I will probably revisit in a year or so! My son has just started his A Levels and is currently talking about living at home as a student. This was unheard of or just plain weird in my day, but now it seems sensible in so many ways. The only problem for me is that it means he won’t be learning independence until he is well into his 20s and it has to happen sometime!
    I went to a university that only had halls for 25% of first years, so I didn’t get a place. I do feel I missed out on that experience. That definitely seems to be the best way to make friends.
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…The Breakdown by B A ParisMy Profile

    • September 15, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks Sarah and I hope it helps you to decide. On a financial level it is probably a no brainer for most people but, as you point out, it’s not just about the money! 🙂

  2. September 17, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Despite having 4 boys, Uni is not a route mine have taken. 2 have gone into the military and 2 gone down the apprenticeship route, but they’ve all left home at Uni age and needed similar things doing for/with them. The TV licence seems to be the biggest thing they don’t think about. Had a hell of a battle with the teen over the fact that his phone whilst I’m fully aware is NOT a TV it can receive TV therefore he requires a licence whether he watches TV or not on it, which he does. #tweenteensbeyond
    chickenruby recently posted…My Sunday Photo – Week 142 – C is for CaveMy Profile

    • September 20, 2017 at 7:56 am

      Thanks Suzanne, we got a bit bogged down on the TV licence website because the direct debit arrangement wants you to start paying for the next year about 6 months before it begins! xx

  3. September 19, 2017 at 10:52 am

    I can feel the years rushing by and I know these decisions will be with us before I know it. Eldest is doing GSCEs this year and worries (among other things) that she has no idea what she wants to do. The one thing she does know is that she wants to go to Uni. I know I benefitted from living in halls the first year, but I might have opted to live at home, if it had been an option, in my third year, just to get away from the distractions. I hope your daughter is enjoying university. #TweensTeensBeyond
    Cheryl | Time To Craft recently posted…A Hoodie for the Boy – Hayfield 7256My Profile

    • September 20, 2017 at 7:58 am

      Thanks Cheryl. I think there are loads of GCSE students who have no idea what they want to do. My eldest girls were the same! Yes i think a mixture of living at home and in halls may be a good compromise. xx

  4. September 19, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Brilliantly informative post for those who are at this stage with their kids. I think we were more fortunate when we were at uni that it was more affordable to live away from home but I understand that more and more kids are having to live at home to keep spending to a minimum. #TweensTeensBeyond

  5. September 19, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Interesting post lovely. I’m just starting to go to open days with my daughter as she decides what she wants to do but she is choosing unis far far away at the mo!! Ummm not sure what that says! It is definitely something to think about. We didn’t have the debt are children will have which really scares me. Living at home is one possible answer. Thank you for this fab post. #tweensteensbeyond
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    • September 20, 2017 at 8:00 am

      You’re welcome and I hope it helps. I’m off to open days this Autumn with my middle daughter so we’ll see how that goes! xx

  6. September 19, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    I think you’re right about both the pros and cons. I work at a great university next to the town where we live. We shall see what happens in the future for both my kids–if they get in, if this university is a fit, if they want to live at home, if we can pay the slum lords of the rental houses in this town (LOL), etc. etc.!

    #tweensteensbeyond
    Katy recently posted…The Funny Truth about Making Dinner for Your KidsMy Profile

    • September 20, 2017 at 8:02 am

      Thanks Katy, yes it is handy living close to a university but, as you say, it may not be right for our kids. I’ve another post on private rented houses coming up soon! xx

  7. September 19, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    We’ve got 6 more years until we get to this stage but with additional/special needs thrown into the mix it’s something I’m already thinking of, even if it’s not at the forefront yet.

    One of my brothers stayed at home for uni but, as you mention, it’s the social aspect of it that I fear would be lost. Yes – you go to uni to learn but a massive part of growing up is ‘being an adult’, and making new and lasting friendships. Some of my best friends, 16 years after graduating, are friends from my uni days.

    It’s a difficult one and certainly different for each and every person and each and every circumstance. Probably one of those things where there’s no definite right or wrong either!

    #TweensTeensBeyond
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    • September 20, 2017 at 8:03 am

      Thank you. Yes, this is a different decision when the young adult has additional/special needs but I think the universities are getting better in offering support and help. xx

  8. September 19, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    An interesting post, especially as I now have my youngest firmly settled at home having decided uni (or at least her course) wasn’t for her. I’d expected there to not be much difference but there is – oddly I think more with going out in the evening than studying. A year away made a great difference to my daughter’s level of independence and confidence. Maybe living in halls for the first year, followed by cheaper ones at home, would be a good way of getting the best of both worlds? #tweenteensbeyond
    Mary Mayfield recently posted…Calke Abbey – #1 – flower gardensMy Profile

    • September 20, 2017 at 8:05 am

      I think you are right Mary. That would allow them to have the best of both worlds and its good to know that they do come back home! xx

  9. September 20, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Our eldest is now in year 13 and will soon be applying to unis. We are actively encouraging him to live out, even if he chooses a local university. I lived out as a student and my husband lived at home. He missed out on so much student life, and given the choice again would absolutely live out. We’re lucky that we can afford to help our teens live away from home, but for some people it may not even be a choice. #TweensTeensBeyond
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  10. September 21, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    Interesting post – thank you. My eldest has just left home to go to university in another city but we have three more children who are likely to consider going to uni. Depending on how far our finances can stretch we may be looking at having a stay at home student in the future, but in many ways I hope they can get the chance to move out and learn some independence skills. #TweensTeensBeyond
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  11. September 21, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Flip, you just fast forwarded my life 4 years and I gained another 4 grey hairs reading your post! I read the first section and thought, ‘yes, that would be a good idea’, then read the 2nd section and equally thought the same! Boy, who knew the decision would be so hard! Actually, it seems to me that what your daughter decided to do was probably actually the best decision – best of both worlds. Excellent informative post! #TTB

  12. September 22, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Interesting Sharon! As you say, it’s an option that may suit many. If I’m honest, I’d probably be a bit disappointed if mine chose this way. Seems that you miss out on the whole Uni experience and independence. Horses for courses though and I’m sure it’s a preference for many. Great post for the time of year and a reminder of what lies ahead! #tweensteensbeyond

  13. September 24, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    This is a really helpful guide. Though my eldest is adamant about going away to university it’s always handy to read up (particularly as parents research is all we can do sometimes!!) #TweensTeensBeyond
    daydreams of a mum recently posted…When did you stop holding my hand?My Profile

  14. September 27, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    I guess a lot depends on the type of relationship parents and child have in regards to finances, control/letting go and allowing their child to spread their wings while still living under the family roof #triumphanttales
    chickenruby recently posted…If you don’t love it, someone else will. How much stuff do we really need? Selling with eBay.My Profile

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