By Sarah Billington
Leaving school and heading to higher education is an exciting transition time. You’re leaving the familiar and entering the unknown – what is TAFE or University going to be like? Am I going to make new friends? Where should I live? Where should I live?
The answer isn’t the same for everyone, as each person is unique and what they want out of their living environment differs greatly.
Your friend might be moving into a share house with new people, but is that right for you?
Here are some pros and cons of some of the options available to you.
Living at home
Lack of rent and bills make this option infinitely more affordable than any other option, and it’s not as daunting as moving out and going to TAFE or Uni. You have the support network and stability of your family around you, quiet time to study and as you still live near your friends, it’s easy to catch up like old times.
If you’re an animal lover and can’t bear to be parted from your four-legged friend, you don’t have to be.
Living at home with your family is the easiest option. Why? You’re already there!
The travel time to get to campus for classes, the library and campus or course-specific events can take its toll physically and emotionally on you. Plus if it’s an hour to and from campus in peak hour traffic, that’s two hours a day you could have been studying, or chilling out.
If you don’t have your own car you’ll need to catch public transport. If you do have your own car you’ll need to allow extra time to find a park – if there is one at all!
Curfews, chores, and less independence as your parents are still aware of your whereabouts and can worry when you’re not home on time.
Stay at home students often go to campus for their classes and go home as soon as they’re finished for the day, which means they miss out on a lot of the social life that can make your years in higher education so memorable.
LIVING AT HOME BEST SUITS STUDENTS WHO: Are strapped for cash or simply not ready to leave the nest.
Yarra House: Living on campus
The commute to your classes, canteen and the library couldn’t be smaller, so you get to hit the snooze button right up until class starts.
Yarra House hosts lots of activities and dinners, plus the parties and your new mates are just down the hall!
Your rent and bills are bundled neatly into one payment per month, so you don’t need to juggle your finances and have bills stacking up.
Residential Advisors, College Heads and Campus Psychologists are all available and there to support you if you’re not coping.
You meet and live with people from different countries, cultures, courses and year levels. It might come in handy in the future to know that Accounting student down the hall and the IT whiz you share a room!
You never feel anonymous on campus, as there’s always someone around that you know.
Miss home? Lots of students go home on weekends and the campus can get pretty quiet during semester breaks. If you stay, however, the solitude can be blissful.
It can be hard to study when your neighbours pop in all the time, or hold a raucous party next door. Studying can take a back seat to all the fun you’re out having.
You can lose touch with your friends from back home as you’re not around as often, and living on campus is pretty pricey compared to living at home or share housing.
LIVING ON CAMPUS SUITS STUDENTS WHO: Want a social atmosphere and independence, but aren’t ready to move out entirely just yet.
Moving out alone
The quiet time to write that essay to kick you to the top of the class. Independence!
You can invite as many or few friends over, and hold as many house parties as you like!
Decorate the house exactly the way you want it, watch the TV shows you choose, play the music you like, you don’t have to compromise on anything and you’ll find your things where you left them, as well!
Moving out can be expensive as you have to kit out the whole house in furniture and appliances. Not to mention rent, bills, food, petrol and the general cost of living increasing…it can all add up. BIG TIME.
Sometimes your course timetable makes it difficult to squeeze in part time work, and just to pay the bills you may need to take on more shifts than you can handle if you’re to get all of your course work done.
Not only are you responsible financially for cleaning and tidying the whole house, not to mention maintaining the garden.
When living alone you could feel isolated and get lonely.
LIVING ALONE BEST SUITS STUDENTS WHO: Crave independence, are introverted and need time to themselves or have demanding study loads.
Cheapest option for moving out of home as rent and bills (and sometimes groceries) are all split with your housemates.
You have independence as an adult, with the company and social support if you need it, and privacy is just a closed bedroom door away.
You can come and go as late as you want. No one is telling you what to do.
Your parents might worry that you’re not eating well and when you visit home can be inclined to stock you up with homemade goodies for the freezer.
You might be living with people from all walks of life with different interests and abilities – maybe even someone who is already in the career that you’re working toward. Networking, anyone?
Moving in with some mates or strangers, you can make friends for life and at least for the duration of your share housing, the people you live with will be important to you.
Unless you’re lucky enough to move into a house already furnished, you all to fill an empty house, both your bedroom and all common areas. This can be expensive, and you may not have the same tastes.
Some housemates find though their great friends when NOT living together, that relationship can change when cohabitating. Not getting along with your housemate/s can be stressful and make for a tense living environment for all in the house. Or you might love your housemate, but hate their friends. And they’re around ALL the time.
Sharing a house means sharing a fridge – and some housemates interpret that as meaning sharing food. That lasagna you made on Sunday for this week’s lunches might be gone by Monday morning.
You can come and go as late as you want – but so can your housemates, and when they come home drunk and bumping into everything in their path, it can make it tough getting that much needed shuteye – especially before exams.
Housemates or your housemate’s friends could break your stuff. Be aware. It happens.
If you’re living with full time workers, they may not be respectful of your need for quiet to get your assignments done. In the evening, their downtime, they might invite friends over, play the TV too loud or hold impromptu get togethers or parties. You need to be willing to compromise.
You are solely responsible for your behavior – have an all-night rager on Wednesday and forget to hand in that assignment on Thursday? It’s all on you.
SHARE HOUSING BEST SUITS STUDENTS WHO: Are ready for independence and up to the challenge of living with others who are not family. People who share-house come from all sorts of backgrounds and you’re sure to find people just like you.
Sarah Billington has lived at home when studying at University, moved out alone, lived on residence at Monash University and currently lives in a share house. She knows what she’s talking about.
NMIT’s Student Services also assists students with permanent, short term and emergency accommodation. See Student Housing and Accommodation