Is it worth staying at home? The cost of living at home vs moving out for university



With only 564,190 people filling out their UCAS application forms in 2017, we can see a downward trend in the number of students applying for university places. This is another 5% decrease as we also saw offur during the 2016 cycle where 593,720 candidates applied for a spot on their desired course.

As well as the decrease in UK applications, there were also fewer students applying from other countries within the EU for a spot at a prestigious British university. The application figures dropped by an astonishing 7% down to 42,070.

Students applying for the first time had decreased by 4% whereas those re-applying for a 2017 course had fallen by 10%. The question that needs to be addressed is why? Could the rising costs associated with pursuing a university education be to blame?



The cost of tuition fees will often determine whether or not someone will apply to university. In 2012, university fees rose to £9,000, resulting in the average student debt falling in around £45,000. Although the government’s student finance scheme is designed to help, allowing people to borrow up to £9,250, it has led to some students considering their other options in order to avoid accumulating such a heavy burden of debt.


Student Accommodation

On average, a student can expect to pay approximately £125 per week in rent. Accommodation in halls will normally include essentials such as electricity and gas – but the costs can be considerably higher if renting through a private landlord. Students will have to budget carefully as additional costs may be added on top of the rent.

The location of the university within the UK will determine how much you pay for rent. Unsurprisingly, according to a survey of 2,000 students carried out by Save The Student, the most expensive place to live was London, costing an average of £182 per week. However, figures vary wildly, up to an average of as much as £1,508. These fluctuations are due to a combination of factors, such as businesses having to charge more for products to cover their own rent. The next highest area to London is the South East with an average cost of £132pw – unsurprising given its close links to the capital.

Besides the south of England, Scotland was another expensive place to live (£130pw). However, those born in Scotland and choose to study at a Scottish university do not need to pay tuition fees. This could mean that Scottish students are more flexible than the rest of the UK when deciding whether to move out of their family home or not.

The cheapest place to study was Northern Ireland, with a reasonable £91pw, followed by Wales at £106 weekly. Don’t forget additional costs too such as security deposits which need to be paid up front, meaning the debt begins before even setting foot in the university itself. 

But what are the pros and cons of moving out for university?


  • Easier to make friends
  • Allows you to become more independent.
  • Plenty of choice in terms of halls and house shares.
  • Accommodation is often located near to or on campus.


  • More expensive than living at home
  • You also need to factor in additional costs such as shopping, laundry and social budget/
  • You can’t pick your housemates in halls.
  • Distractions – including noise from parties within your block.


Staying at Home

If research carried out by Hesa is anything to go by, more than 328,000 students decided that they would stay at home and commute to university rather than move into student accommodation.

According to the results of the Save The Student survey show that students who decided to remain with their parents or family members whilst studying for their degree found themselves paying only £46 per week. This is considerably less than the average renting rate. However, unlike university accommodation, living at home is likely to be further away from your campus, meaning that students will likely have to commute.

Using a Stagecoach student bus pass is an easy and affordable way to travel to and from university to attend lectures. According to the Huffington Post, in 2013, the average student not living on campus found themselves paying £600 a year to meet their own travel requirements. However, there are plenty of travel card options now available for students to reduce this cost. Almost four in five students travel a 22-mile round trip for university – so a discounted travel card can come in handy.

But what are the pros and cons of staying at home?


  • It’s cheaper and can even be free.
  • Remain closer to friends and family members.
  • Less distractions than living in university accommodation.


  • It might be harder to make friends if you don’t know anyone already.
  • You might feel less independent.
  • You may have further to travel to get to campus.


Calculating the average renting rate for students  of £125 per week, together with the average course length of 31 weeks, the cost of moving out for one year of university in rent alone would equate to £3,875. Although utility bills are included in student halls, it does exclude food shopping which, according to research carried out by Save The Student, comes to an average £124 each month. If students spent £124 per month throughout their course length, the total would be around £880 – which on top of their rent, would make a grand total of £4,755. 80% of students worry that they won’t be able to make ends meet and because of this financial pressure and worry about making ends meet, 56% said that their grades suffer as a result.

In comparison, when looking to how much living at home would cost using the average weekly cost of £46 for the entire year, this total came to £2,438. This had the added bonus of including all the bills. Even when the £600 average spend on travel is added to the figure, a total which is likely to include buses, rail and taxis, a home-living student’s bill would total £3,038 for the year — a staggering £837 saving on the cost of moving out.

It is clear that the decision that students need to make, deciding whether the lifestyle benefits of moving out for university outweigh the financial drawbacks, is one that should not be taken lightly.




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