Female student relaxed at home with book

Live at home or move away?

Decide whether living at home while you study is right for you

You don't have to move away from home to go to university. You can stay at home and just go to uni for lectures or to use the library, or you could take a distance learning course.

There are lots of advantages to living at home while you study. You save money on rent and get to live with your family in an area you already know. You don't need to update your contact details with services like the bank, or find a new doctor or dentist. It's easier to stay in touch with school friends and keep up with hobbies and clubs you joined before your studies. And you can enjoy home comforts like sleeping in your own bed, eating home cooked meals and spending time with family and pets. 

But it's not always a walk in the park. Living at home while you're at uni can be difficult. So you should consider the pros and cons before you decide where to live.

Challenges of living at home

  • Depending on where home is, travelling to uni can take up a big chunk of your time. You might need to leave social events early to catch the bus or train home
  • You'll have to budget for getting to uni if you don't live in walking distance
  • Living with parents or guardians can be stressful and you won't have as much independence as if you moved away
  • You’ll be entitled to a different loan amount
  • Some of your 'home' friends may move away to university, so it might get lonely at home

Studying when you live at home

Whether you're studying via distance learning or living away from campus and traveling to uni for your lecturers and seminars, you need to consider how you'll study during your course.

Studying away from campus

Many students do some of their studying away from campus and there are plenty of resources to help you get the most out of revising at home.

Build a study space and have a desk, table, or area in your house available to you whenever you want to study. Keep your notes and work here, and ask everyone in the household to respect your space.

You can access Moodle (our virtual learning environment) and the University Library's electronic resources and services from anywhere with an internet connection. You can also use other online resources like public ebooks, journals, and academic websites.

Our IT support team can help if you have questions about working online or accessing materials remotely.

Studying on campus

You can study on campus between lectures. Explore your university's study spaces and find out what you need to bring with you to revise – do you need to bring your computer to campus every day, or can you use a university computer suite or borrow a laptop?

Check the opening hours of your university library and other buildings to find a space that suits you. Most of our study spaces are available to all students but you may need to reserve particular labs, software or equipment to complete course-specific work. You can also book group study rooms at the Library.

Travelling to and from campus

You should check your travel options before you decide to live at home during your studies.

Depending on how far you are from your campus you could consider cycling to uni, or take public transport like buses or trains. Most university cities have limited parking so it's usually best to leave your car at home. If you do decide to drive make sure you know where you can park and any fees you'll need to pay.

You'll receive your study timetable before you start your degree. You'll need to bring your resources and revision note for all your daily classes if you don't have time to go home between lectures.

Your travel options

Research how you'll get to campus. You could travel by:

  • train
  • bus
  • ferry
  • hovercraft
  • bike
  • car

Some of our lecturers commute to Portsmouth on transport links including trains, buses and even the hovercraft.

Depending on where you're coming from you might have an obvious travel route, or you might be able to choose your favourite from a range of options. Do you want to use the quickest route, or is there a simpler journey with less changes? You might prefer to spend an extra fifteen minutes on the train so you need less bus connections once you arrive at campus, for example.

Check whether the transport links you're planning to use have wifi. Staying online will help you study, catch up with friends and receive lecture updates while you travel.

Find out if you can get a season pass or a student or young person discount on your travel to save money throughout your course.

We advise using public transport and leaving your car at home. But if you need to drive, check where you can park. Lots of university cities have limited space or parking fees you'll need to pay each day. Consider car sharing to reduce your costs and help save the environment, if you can.

Be prepared

  • Plan ahead – Decide what you'll need for uni each day and buy a suitable bag for travelling. Will you bring your laptop to campus every day? Do you need space for your gym kit, or society equipment? Check the weather before you leave and bring a coat or sunglasses if necessary. Download any reading in advance.
  • Travel light – Use ebooks and online resources instead of print textbooks to save space in your bag, and consider using University computers and leaving your laptop at home. Decide what items are worth space in your bag, like a portable charger or reusable water bottle.
  • Get travel updates – Download any relevant travel apps at the start of the term to keep up with travel updates, particularly if you use buses or trains. Download and save your University bus timetable somewhere you can reach it when you need it.
  • Don't miss lecture updates – Sign in to your University email account on your phone so you can access your emails anywhere. You'll know straight away if one of your classes is delayed, has moved rooms, or is cancelled.
  • Bring your coffee with you – Buy a travel mug to save you time and money throughout your studies. Take your coffee on your journey instead of buying an expensive takeaway each morning or rushing to finish your drink before you leave the house.
  • Have a backup travel plan – Hopefully you'll find multiple routes to get to uni. Once you've planned your trip you should arrange a backup route too in case you miss a connection or your transport isn't available one day.

Use your commute time

You'll travel to university on most weekdays depending on your timetable, so it makes sense to use this time effectively. Once you've planned your commute you'll know how long it takes you to travel to uni every day.

Things you can do during your commute:

  • study – do your required reading or revise your lecture notes
  • listen to a podcast – explore subjects that relate to your degree, discover something new or listen to something fun to get you ready for the day
  • listen to an audiobook – this is great if you struggle to read in crowded places or like to watch where you're going during your journey
  • share your journey – take photographs and share your commute with others on instagram to celebrate your city in every season
  • be social – travel with someone else or phone a friend or relative
  • learn something new – use Duolingo to learn a language or download a brain training app to challenge yourself each day

Making friends when you don't live at uni

It's easy to feel like you're missing out on the full university experience when you're living at home, but it doesn't have to be that way. You can still make the most of freshers' week, meet new people, join clubs and societies, use campus facilities, and more.

Living in halls usually means you'll be surrounded by fellow students, so it's hard not to meet new people, whereas if you live at home you may need to make time to meet new friends. You'll struggle to build relationships if you head home immediately after lectures, so spend some time getting to know people on your course and exploring the clubs on offer at your uni.

Ways to meet people:

  • join a society – meet people with similar interests to you or discover a new hobby
  • make friends with people on your course – build a study group or group chat at the start of term to make it easy to reach out to others about coursework and lectures
  • use social media – join freshers' groups or course groups on facebook, add people from your course as friends, and follow your school or department social media accounts
  • take advantage of freshers' week – meet societies at freshers' fair, speak to people on your course, join the gym, sign up for social events across the week (including drinking and non-drinking options)
  • talk to people – lots of people are nervous about making friends when they start uni so don't worry if this includes you – try starting a conversation with a course friend or asking someone where they're from

You can get to know people by chatting online, meeting up before or after lectures, building a study group, or suggesting days out together. If you live nearby and know the local area, suggest a trip and show some friends the sights and highlights of your city.

You can enjoy nights out even if you live at home. Plan your travel ahead of time so you know which train or bus you need to catch and when you'll need to leave to get back, arrange a lift home, or agree to stay at a friend's house for the night.

Four female students sitting on stairs and laughing

Making friends at uni

Get started

Being independent when you live with your parents

One of the big differences between moving out to study and staying home is how independent you'll need to be. If you move to a new city you'll need to register with local medical services, arrange your rent payments, do your food shops and cook your meals, manage your budget, organise your bills and manage your own time. If you live at home you might find that your parents take care of some of these for you.

Managing your money

Living at home means you'll be eligible for a different loan amount than students moving out to study. You'll still receive your loan once you start your studies be responsible for your money. You may or may not be paying rent in your family home.

Tips to save money during university:

  • Make a budget and do your best to stick to it
  • Use season passes for regular travel
  • Use student discounts on travel, food, clothes and more
  • Use the library and university resources rather than buy copies of textbooks you only need temporarily
  • Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time – your friends might be able to pop back to their rooms and grab some food, but you'll need to bring food with your for the day to avoid spending a lot or eating out

More about managing your money

Planning your time

Similar to campus-based students, you'll need to plan your time and your studies. You'll receive your lecture timetable at the start of the academic year, and you should make a revision timetable to plan your time and work to your deadlines.

You'll need to allocate time for travelling to and from university if you need to attend lectures in person. You should make sure your transport connections arrive in enough time to get to your lectures. If you don't have time to go home between classes you'll need to bring everything you need for the day with you in the morning. This could mean notes and projects for multiple modules, study notes, or other equipment.

You'll have free time between classes. You can use this time to study, relax, or get to know the area. Make the most of your campus by taking regular study breaks and consider signing up to the uni gym, joining a society or exploring the local area.

Dealing with stress

Living with family can be stressful – especially if you compare your situation to peers who live at uni with the freedom of living alone or with friends. Try to appreciate your family network, or whoever you're living with, and remember that they want what's best for you too.

You may experience stress associated with your studies too. It's important to take care of your physical health and your mental health during your studies – this includes eating well, staying fit, taking breaks, and know when to speak to someone about issues. If you're experiencing issues that are impacting your studies, you should speak to your personal tutor who can support you and direct you to other University services where necessary.

Explore the pages below to find out more about University Wellbeing Support and how to look after your mental health at uni.

Your next steps

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