My name’s Lindsay, and I moved out of my childhood home two months ago.
I’m, er, 28.
I was one of those students who apparently ‘didn’t get the full experience’, because I opted to stick around in my teenage bedroom over moving into halls when I went to university. But I wasn’t alone. These days, over a quarter of students choose to live at home – and not all of us live the miserable existence that so many stay-at-home students fear.
For me, it was a decision that was motivated partly by money, partly by the fact that I had lots of great universities offering courses I actually wanted to do, and also because I actually really like my family and didn’t mind sticking around. And I think I still had a great student experience.
If you’re in my shoes this September, I’m here to tell you why, actually, sticking around with your ‘rents is an OK way to spend your university years.
It’s more comfortable
Tiny cell-like room in halls or cosy comfort of your own home, with your double bed, springy carpets and a constantly stocked fridge? It’s a no-brainer guys. I also found it a lot easier to study and do essays (that’s what you go to uni for, believe it or not) than some of my friends in halls, because I had peace and quiet and no distractions in the form of flatmates blaring music or a party down the hall.
You get looked after
Maybe this is just my saint of a mother, but when you stay at home, there’s someone to look after you. So if you’re cramming for that test, a kind parent might stop by with a snack or to see how you’re doing. When you have fresher’s flu, there will be a nice family member to keep your paracetamol stash topped up. Hungover? Irn Bru on tap!
You can still learn ‘life skills’
If you’re lucky like I was, you might get fed and get your laundry done too. But that doesn’t mean you miss out on developing these essential grownup life skills on your own. Offer to help out at home, and make the most of that extra time with your parents to learn some essential skills – I enjoyed sitting on the kitchen worktop and watching my mum make dinner to prepare me for doing it myself. I’m now a dab hand in the kitchen and haven’t had a single Pot Noodle and only one takeaway now that I’ve moved out. Smug face emoji.
There are still opportunities to be involved
A lot of people think that staying at home means they miss out on the student experience, but that doesn’t have to be the case – you just have to make more of an effort. So talk to your classmates, join clubs and societies and arrange get togethers with the people you come across. You can still be a student, it just takes more work.
You can still do nights out
Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you can’t socialise. Your parents will appreciate that you’ve older and you want a social life – you don’t have to stay at home watching MasterChef with them. It is, however, wise to be courteous. Go out with your new pals from lectures, have a good time, but make sure to text your mum if you aren’t going to make the last train and try make minimal noise when you clatter in at four in the morning. (The time I met my mum in the hall at 3am as I hobbled along with one shoe on after crashing through the front door, hissing ‘I’m not drunk, I’m not drunk’, was not my finest moment.)
You still get to see your school friends
If, like me, your school friends are in the same boat and also stay at home, you’re less likely to lose touch with the people you actually liked. Initially, me and my school mates still saw each other a lot, as well as making time for new uni friends. This means the transition to university isn’t as much of a shock to the system – there was still something familiar there.
You get more time to grow up
I was a young 18-year-old. I’m not sure when I’d say I fully hit adulthood, but when I left home in July, I was ready for it. I’d had a little bit of time to grow up (OK, a LOT of time), to get myself through uni and get established in my career, and I think it’s worked in my favour. I would go as far as to classify myself as quite sensible these days.
You can save up
Every year, I took a student loan, but I didn’t use it. It went straight into a savings account so I could use it for useful stuff. I got a part-time retail job and freelance writing work when I was a student, and I used my wages to survive – paying for train tickets, coffee to get me through lectures, and my never-ending Topshop habit, which stays with me to this day. The loan ended up paying for me to go to America for two summers, it bought me a wee car when I started working and it went towards a deposit for my flat – I have an actual mortgage now and an absolutely beautiful home that looks like something from Pinterest. All the debt I have is my student loan – I don’t owe my mum and dad anything, I have no credit cards or store cards and my loan repayments comes off my wages every month, so I barely notice it. I don’t think I’d be able to say any of this if I’d moved out at 18.
I realise that staying at home simply isn’t an option for everyone when it comes to furthering their studies, and for some people it’s not an appealing option at all – but for me, it worked. And I’m glad it did. So don’t get down in the mouth if you’re not moving out this year. Your student experience is what YOU make it. Want to be a part of it all? Throw yourself into the experience and get involved – and get prepared for the best few years of your life.