Heading off to study or work and living away from home?
If you are going to a university or polytechnic that is not in your home town, you will need to sort where you plan to live. For school leavers heading away from home there are three options, a university or polytechnic hostel, flatting (usually with others), and boarding or homestay accommodation.
All three are quite different and it is important that you are able to choose the option that will work best for you.
Hostels or halls provide a great step from home into university or polytechnic life. You are surrounded by others in the same situation, learning how the place works and adapting to a very new environment.
Each hostel has a number of staff who are there to help and guide new students like you and all hostels have great social activities to help you get to know each other.
Flatting is a lot harder for first year students, especially if you are living away from home for the first time.
With flatting comes responsibilities, from keeping your rent up to date to learning how to live with friends who are not family. You need to be a lot more organised when you are flatting, sorting meals, laundry, transport and of course, study space and quiet study time. You may also need to sort out basic furniture and cooking, eating utensils etc for a flat.
Flatting can be the greatest fun, but it may be a better option for you once you have sorted out your new environment and found friends you feel you can live with in a flat.
See our section on Flatting to learn more about the costs, responsibilities and other obligations that you need to be aware of.
Homestay or private boarding is another option for students living away from home. Most institutions will be able to provide a selection of homes where you can live and study in a quiet and supportive environment. You may be living with a family, or with older adults whose children have left home.
Generally homestays or boarding accommodation means you will get meals and access to home comforts like television, heating, bedding and so on, although you will need to sort transport for yourself and may need to do your own laundry. You are also living in someone’s house so you may need to adapt to their particular ways of doing things.
Get yourself organised early
All these options need some organising, and hostel acommodation in particular is something that you need to be onto by around August of your last year at school. If you are still deciding which university or institution you will finally go to, you can apply for hostels in a number of places and make your decision later in the year.
Your first year living away from home can be both an adventurous and fun time but also a challenging one. You are in charge of you now. Where and how you live plays a huge part in this next stage of your life. Involve your parents in your decision, and together settle on the option or choice that you feel will give you the very best start.