A big decision to make upon coming to university is whether to move into university accommodation or to commute in to campus. Whichever decision you make will have a massive impact on your student experience and after many discussions with both, commuters and those living in halls, there seems to be some recurring pro’s and con’s to both sides.
Pro: The ‘University Experience’
The typical ‘Student lifestyle’ we all look forward to after slogging away for years in secondary school and sixth form comes with the experience of living out in halls. For the first time in your life you’re living on your own surrounded by fellow students who are all going through the same experience and navigating that newly found independence truly is a once in a lifetime experience. Moving into accommodation allows you to network and enjoy university in a way that a commuter simply cannot.
Con: Halls isn’t for everyone
However, moving out for university isn’t all glam and it is important to consider that halls aren’t for everyone. Moving out can be stressful as it is and having to adjust to a new environment surrounded by total strangers can be an extremely daunting prospect that not all are suited too. LSE has a 70% international student population and thus you will have flatmates from all walks of life which can be incredibly exciting. However, for those who have been living in the same area of London their whole life, this can prove intimidating and they may be better suited to enjoying LSE’s diversity whilst staying at home.
Pro: The Social life
Living out for university means being able to go out at 11pm and come home for 3am in the morning and it being completely fine and normal. Being placed in halls forces you to socialise with others you otherwise wouldn’t have met and it puts you outside of your comfort zone. Socializing and meeting people is much more accessible be it in the form of flatmates or the myriad of other student populations you are surrounded by as a student who lives out in London.
Con: The Cost
Make no mistake, living out for university is expensive. From accommodation to grocery shopping university will cost you a small fortune and on top of that you aren’t just living in any student city, you are living in London; One of the worlds most expensive cities. Those who I have spoken to living out at university at LSE have stated you can expect to be set back at a minimum of £10,000 if you live frugally and live in shared accommodation (with a roommate) with many students exceeding that number and so moving out for university will certainly cost you a lot lot more.
Pro: The Independence
Once you move out to university you are living the ‘adult’ life for the first time. You are in charge of how you manage your time, how much time you attribute to studying and your social life. You learn essential life skills such as cooking for yourself and budgeting and there is no better training ground to learn these skills than at university.
Con: Mental Health
The sudden onset of moving out and finding yourself away from your family having to dictate your new life at university can be mentally straining. I urge you to reach out to the many services provided by LSE should you find yourself overly stressed or suffering from any mental health issues to any degree at University, as you will always find someone to talk to and to support you.
Pro: You Save Money
The biggest advantage to staying at home during university is saving money. There’s no rent and any additional costs that living out in London brings which will save you a vast amount of money in the long run and so it would be a financially extremely advantageous to commute to university instead of living out in accommodation.
Con: Commuting isn’t as cheap as you think
Despite this, it is important to dispel the myth that commuting is university is a virtually free endeavour. Depending on where you live, transportation costs alone can easily set you back over £1,000, not to mention the other costs that commuting involves such as often having to eat out as it isn’t feasible to go home and grab a quick lunch. Furthermore, not living in halls means you will have to spend a significant amount of money on socialising compared to the average student living out, be it in the form of a society social event or an Uber after a late night event once the tubes close at midnight.
Pro: Separation from University and Home
Commuting to university can provide a much needed separate mental space. Living in halls can be suffocating as you are constantly surrounded by university and other students. However a commuter will be able to socialise with other students whilst also having the benefits of their home comforts and being able to socialise with their family, which at stressful times can provide some much needed peace and calm of mind.
Con: Social Life
The social life of a commuter isn’t the same. Tube times mean you won’t be able to stay late to enjoy the student night life and you will miss out on the experience of living with and getting to know your flatmates. As a result many commuters I have spoken to have mentioned welcome week as being quite an underwhelming experience as it is primarily aimed at those living out for university. As the year progresses it becomes easier to socialise, however the social life of a commuter isn’t up to the standard of someone living out for university.
Pro: Knowing the City
One of the more unspoken benefits of commuting is getting to know the city of London! Regularly taking the Tube, going back and forth between university and home allows you to explore the city. Your plans will most likely centre less around the student night life and more around daytime activities allowing you to make the most out of the city of London.
Con: Wasted Time
Commuting wastes A LOT of time and depending on your commuting distance, you will likely spend an 1-2 hours commuting everyday on average. Cumulatively this builds up and is a lot if important time going to waste which can’t always be utilised effectively on the busy trains of London. As pro-commuting as you are, having to wake up more than an hour early to make it to your 9am class will have you reconsider the money commuting is saving you.