Living off campus: Is it right for you?

Having met several people living on campus at Aston this year, and comparing their experiences to mine of living off campus, I’ve seen there are good and bad sides to each option. This has led me here, hoping to provide a little insight to prospective students currently deciding whether they want to live on or off campus during their time at Aston.

This post will just be discussing the PROs to living off campus; I will discuss the cons in a later post!

Before I start, I want to remind you I currently live off campus in a private flat, so this is coming only from MY experiences and observations.  I believe all of the other bloggers live on campus except for Austin, so if you want to ask more specific questions, or get an insider’s perspective, feel  free to contact Julius, Lina, or Michael!

Let’s begin!

Pros

  • You are forced to learn the city
  • You have your own space
  • Can be a cheaper alternative to university accommodation
  • It’s a learning experience

You are forced to learn the city

Living off campus is the easiest way for you to learn your way around the city. In the case of Aston, the university has seemingly done everything they can to ensure you never have to leave campus. There is a Tesco Express to get groceries, great pubs and bars to have a night out,  facilities to do laundry, and cafes to get your coffee fix.

When you live in your own flat, you have to find these places on your own. Google Maps quickly becomes your compass, and getting lost is a common occurrence. If you want to eat, you have to find your way to the store; if you want a pint, take off walking (it’s England- I’m sure you won’t have to go far). While scary at first, I can assure you that in no time you will find yourself leading friends around the city like a seasoned tour-guide.

You have your own space

When living in an off-campus flat, you have an entire space to call your own. Not just the bedroom , bathroom ,and kitchen, but the area of the city and the street that you live on. It lets you feel more like a local within the community, and makes the city feel much more like home.

Living on your own also allows you to detach from the university lifestyle should you ever need or want to do so. If you are a person who is easily swayed by peer pressure, living in an accommodation can be detrimental to your studies. When you are surrounded by friends who are constantly wanting to party or hang out, it can be difficult to A) say no B) prioritise studying over fun. It’s never easy to admit that you may not be the most strong willed person, but it’s important to be honest with yourself and know what you can and cannot handle before it’s too late.

*This point can vary greatly depending on the type of person you are, your hobbies, and your overall motivation for attending uni in the first place. Like I said, self-awareness and knowing your limits are key to avoiding disappointment when final grades are posted. 

Can be a cheaper alternative to university accommodation

Depending on the area you choose to stay in, and the size of the space, you can drastically reduce your living expenses while attending university.  Student accommodation tends to be a bit pricier than renting your own space, and what you get for the money doesn’t seem worth it to me. The housing is nice, but you often share space with three or four people, and if there are any issues it can make for a long year.

Renting a flat does come with a few extra bills you won’t see in student housing. In our case, we have to pay electric, water, and internet. This does make for more expenses each month, but the total cost still comes out to slightly less than what you pay in university accommodation. As a side note, paying for Sky internet is definitely worth it. While Aston has ok internet, from my experience it can be spotty and unreliable at times. I haven’t tried it personally, but I’ve heard from others that using Netflix or other streaming sites can be extremely slow or not work at all.

When comparing the cost of living on campus vs living off campus, it’s important to be realistic. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Estimating your monthly or weekly budget is important to ensure you have enough money to live comfortably.
  • When you are paying for electric  and water, you have to be aware of usage- this isn’t your parents’ house and they aren’t paying the bills anymore, so turn off the lights!
  • Cooking your own meals will save you an unimaginable amount of money.
  • STICK TO YOUR BUDGET

It’s a learning experience

If you haven’t done so before, living on your own is a great experience. It’s an opportunity to take on more responsibility and prove to yourself you are capable of succeeding! It’s also a good chance to develop new, transferrable skills such as: cooking, repairing stuff, cleaning massive amounts of unwashed dishes, becoming more aware of how dirty you really live, and many others yet to be discovered.

Jokes aside, it really is an opportunity to become independent. Having to rely on yourself to eat, clean, and get up on time is actually a very rewarding feeling. It may be more difficult or stressful at times, but  I guarantee it is going to help you in the long-run.

This will be you at some point. Credit: Giphy.com

With the proper planning and frugal habits, renting a flat is definitely a cost-saver. Be aware though, living alone is not easy. It takes practice and a rewiring of your mindset to make the transition from living at home to living on your own. There will be many moments of uncertainty – and I can assure you, you will burn something at some point- but  remember, it’s ok to make those mistakes! You’ll learn from your failures and you will become a more responsible and self-sustaining adult by the time it’s all over.

If you have any questions regarding this topic, or any other topic, please feel free to ask!

Thanks!

Garet

3 thoughts on “Living off campus: Is it right for you?

  1. Hey Garet

    I am Aastha and I am from India. Due to delay in offer of admission at Aston , followed by getting the VISA late , I had to search for an off campus accommodation in Handsworth with a family.
    Whatever you said above is absolutely correct, and I say it by my experience but now I sometimes feel that because of joining late and living off campus, I am not able to make friends and most of the times wander alone in the campus. I don’t have any Indians in my class. I belong to a group which has English people and a chinese girl. The chinese girl talks and interacts with me often, but I am not able to understand others state of mind or their way of dealing with each other. ( Instance : After meeting twice, on the third day when I got across one of my group mates while waiting for lift, he/she either didn’t see me or ignored.. I felt bad ..Because In my country, that person would have greeted me with a Hi !!!) New to this system and new to the people, I face difficulties…
    Is it always that I have to go and say a Hi to them??? What is it I don’t understand.??/

    If you can help me,,,:)
    Goodday

    1. Hi Aastha,
      I’m sorry you’ve had some issues in arriving to campus, but I’m glad you were able to make it!

      There can definitely be some downside to living off campus. As you mentioned, it can be difficult making friends or finding time to hang out with them. That is why I suggest (and I have done so myself) to get involved with clubs and societies. These social events offer great opportunities to meet people who share the same interests as you! There are also Cultural clubs, where you can meet people from your home country, which could help you to feel a bit more at home 🙂

      As for whether you should say hi first or wait to be greeted, it can be tricky. I would say it is a combination of both personal preference and cultural norms that dictate the way for these interactions can go. I struggle with this same thing. In my culture it would be rude to not say hello to someone I know, but I am sometimes too shy to do so. When I feel this way, I may not say hi to someone who I’ve met before. I don’t do it to be rude, it is just that my shyness is making it difficult for me. I would say that if you are comfortable (and even if you aren’t), don’t be afraid to make the first move. If you see someone you know, and you are unsure if they saw you, go up and say hello! From my experience at Aston so far, everyone seems to be extremely nice and welcoming.

      Just remember, Aston is a diverse place. We all come from different cultures and backgrounds, and we are all learning how to interact and adapt to the diversity. While you might be struggling now, I promise that as time goes on and you meet more friends, things will get easier!

      I hope this has been helpful! If you see me around campus, come and say hi!! 🙂

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