Áine Kenny looks at the pros and cons of each type of accommodation and which might be best for you.
It’s that time of year again. It seems as if the semester has only just begun, yet many student accommodations are already looking for applications for the next academic year. I myself have only lived in student accommodation offered by my college, but have friends who lived in digs, hostels and at home. So here is my take on each living arrangement, the pros and cons of student living!
1. Living at home:
I am too far away from my college to commute or live at home, but I know people who have done the commute. A lot of people enjoy having all the home comforts: your own bedroom, seeing family every day, meeting up with your school friends and potentially having dinner made for you! The one drawback is probably on nights out, you may not live within taxi distance, so would have to stay with a friend. If you aren’t a party animal, living at home could be for you. Ideally, you would want to be living no more than an hour and a half away from college, and have good bus or train services. Some towns have commuter buses directly to colleges each day to make your life easier. That being said, I have also known people who have tried to commute and ended up having to switch colleges or drop out, as they had to get up very early to get in for 9am lectures, and were arriving home around nine o’clock every night. So talk to someone who is doing the same commute as you before you decide.
Most people I know who have lived in digs enjoyed it. Every digs is different, some offer a room in a family house and meals are provided, while others are self-catering. If you are worried about moving away from home and feeling a little homesick, digs may be for you. However, I have also heard nightmare stories of strict elderly ladies waiting on their students to come home from nights out, asking where they’ve been and who they went out with! The drawback of may digs are that you cannot stay at the weekend, so not ideal for those living further away from college. Some digs don’t like students having friends over, and hosting a party is out of the question. If you are living in digs, you’re renting a room, not a house so you can’t do what you want. On the plus side, digs is usually a little less expensive than rented accommodation.
3. Private rented accommodation:
Sometimes cheaper than student accommodation offered by a college, but not always. It depends on what location you choose. Those houses or apartments closer to college will be far dearer than those on the outskirts of the city or town. Landlords can also be a bit hit and miss, some are incredibly strict but good at sorting out problems while others are completely useless, and won’t fix a problem unless the roof has caved in. Research the area you are moving into thoroughly before you sign a lease- know what you’re getting into. The benefits of private houses are that usually they come with washing machines and dryers (trust me you’ll appreciate these) and you can invite friends over without worrying about security. However, mad house parties will be unlikely as there may be families or other people who are not students living around you. You will have to be courteous to your neighbours. Bear in mind you will have monthly bills which need to be divided between your housemates and you’ll have to set up WIFI and bins when you arrive which takes about a month, therefore more organisation is required. Other drawbacks include the fact that a lot of private student houses are absolute dives, some being extremely damp and dilapidated, so view the house before you agree to anything.
4. Student accommodation provided by college:
The king of all student accommodation options in my opinion. While it may be slightly dearer, I think this option is suited better for those who are moving far away from home for college. Most are apply online and there’s no need to view houses. You are paying for convenience; your bins, WIFI, electricity and any other utilities are all paid for in advance. Book early as in some cities there is a severe shortage of student accommodation. For those just starting college, there’s usually a first year only on-campus option which I would strongly recommend as it’s a way to make friends. House parties are usually okay, depending on the level of security at the complex. With regards to having guests over, sometimes it’s no problem but in other cases sign-in is required. Student accommodations can be noisy however, and you probably will not know your housemates before you move in. But simply for the social side of college and not having to worry about monthly bills I would recommend this for at least first year. I met my best friends in student accommodation, and I am living in a different complex now and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else! One catch is that usually a deposit is required, no monthly payments are accepted. But if you’re a social butterfly and don’t mind a bit of noise, this is your best bet!