Becoming a university student involves a lot of life changes. Not only are you learning a whole new subject, making new friends and getting used to a new city, but you also need to start learning how to pay bills and how to find the money to have fun! We have pulled together a quick guide to ease you in to living independently.
1. Should you live in house or halls?
There are several options for living accommodation when it comes to university. If you’re not moving to a new city, maybe you can stay at home, but it’s a good idea to stretch your wings a little and really experience the university experience. Living on campus in halls is often a popular choice for the first year of higher education, or you could move straight into private accommodation. There are pros and cons for both these options, but both depend on what kind of preferences you have.
Living amongst your fellow students can make the whole experience a little less scary than going it alone as others are in the same boat as you. You can bounce off each other, reassure each other, and hopefully, start making friendships that last a lifetime. And you also won’t have to worry about regular bill payments, rent etc as it’ll all have been paid as part of your enrolment. On the downside, it can be a distraction from studying, or you could be matched with people with different interests to yourself.
When it comes to flat-share or a house share, you’re thrown straight into becoming your own boss, and getting stuck into adult life. Bills will need to be paid, and in the same way as halls, you’ll be in charge of your own meals and washing. A negative of this set up however is being apart from the support system of a campus, you never know when you might need a friend, especially in these early days of your new life.
2. Do you need to get a job at university?
Having a regular income at university is mostly a good idea. Not only will it start getting you used to being in a working environment, but it’ll also provide a little more funding for your lifestyle. But many may struggle with negotiating studies around working – make sure you are able to manage your schedule effectively before you take on more responsibility. Industries normally littered by students are bar work, service industry jobs, shop work. They’re quite flexible and help earn a little extra cash. Some universities may even have vacancies on campus, in student bars or libraries. These may be a little more understanding about your study time as well. Online research groups and freelancer work could also be a source for extra cash; after all, if you spend most of your time online anyway, why not make some money!
3. Paying bills
Ahhh, the dreaded bills. A downside of growing up if ever there was one. But although it’s easy to start feeling swamped by them, there are lots of ways to deal with them and paying them will soon become an unnoticed habit.
- What type of bills will there be?
Utilities – These involve electricity, gas and water. Take the time to peruse the providers available for these to ensure you get the best deal. Make sure you divide these costs if you live in a house-share, (sharing bills should be a rule set on day one!)
Essentials (Well, at least the essentials in today’s world!) – Internet, TV Licences and TV packages.
4. One of the best bits – the FUN!
Obviously higher education comes with a great deal of fun, as well as studying. The downtime is just as important as the learning for life experience after all! So making sure you have enough pennies to enjoy these nights out is crucial, overdrafts can only get you so far! Some tips on how to save where you can while having fun:
- Streaming sites: These services avoid “necessary” trips to the pub to sneak a watch of your teams’ big game. You’re sure to only spend money while out. Streaming services can provide decent packages for a small monthly charge, and you can cancel very quickly and easy as well, if it all starts to get too much.
- Free events: Many universities hold free events, or at least events with free food and drink, so have a little look around campus to see what you can find.
- Travel light: One of the most expensive elements of higher education is the travel between a family home and campus. Or even just your student digs and campus if the city is quite vast. The first thing you should make sure you have in your purse or wallet is a Student Railcard (16-25’s eligible). Another way of travelling on a budget is to use a coach if available – National Express offers very cheap journeys, but make sure you factor in a much longer journey, and the fact that you’ll be on a coach!
- Deals: Let’s face it, a student night is not complete without a good 2 for 1! Saving a bit on every drink is always going to helpful but remember…all in moderation!
If you bear these tips in mind, you should be set for your first year out of the nest. Now you’ll have an idea of what your parents have been doing for you for so long, so make sure you don’t forget them back at home and check in!