Should you live on campus at university?

By Pippa Skillington

If you’re planning to start university next year – this is what you need to know about living on campus. Or not…

Should you live on campus or off campus

When you start university, one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is whether to live on campus or off campus.

Your options could be:

  • stay at home
  • move into a share house (with friends … or strangers)
  • move into an apartment on your own
  • live on campus at a university college.

Obviously everyone’s situation is different, but here are some things to consider.


Live at home

If you’re going to be studying in the same town or city where you currently live, you may be considering living at home.


Cost effective: This will probably be the most cost-effective option. Your family may make you pay board, but it will likely be less than the cost of living on campus or in an apartment.

Less distractions: If you stay at home, you’ll probably have less distractions like parties and other events and can focus more on your studies.


Lack of independence: University is a great time to find some independence (and learn how to ‘adult’!). Without the safety net of your family, you’ll be pushed to do and try new things and it can make you feel more grown up. Every new thing you figure out can feel like a great achievement.

Feeling of missing out: University is a fun, and often life-changing experience. While living at home certainly has its upsides, some students feel like they have a fuller university experience if they move out and get involved in lots of activities on campus.


share house living


It can be social: Share housing can be great fun if you have good flatmates who you get along with. If you move in with people you don’t know, it will be a bit of a gamble, but you may come to be great friends.

Flexibility: You can choose where you want to live, which is a plus if you want to live in a particular type of house or suburb. You can also pick an option that aligns to your budget and can choose a furnished or unfurnished room.


Cooking and cleaning: This can go either way – you could have a great experience sharing the kitchen (or even sharing cooking duties), or it could prove to be a challenge trying to find the right routine and rhythm with your flatmates. The same goes for cleaning!

Noise: You could be lucky to have nice, respectful flatmates, or you could find yourself ticked off if your housemates get a bit rowdy or love rising early or going to bed late (and you don’t). But that’s all part of the share house experience!


Live alone at uni


Flexibility: Living alone gives you great flexibility. You can choose the house or apartment you like in the suburb of your choice. You can decorate it how you want and can keep your own schedule without having to work around flatmates. The kitchen is yours whenever you need it, and you won’t be fighting anyone for the bathroom in the morning.


Isolation: Starting university can be quite isolating for some people. The classes are big and it can be harder to make friends than at school, particularly given your classmates will often change from subject to subject.

Cost: Living alone often costs more than a share house, plus you will likely have to cover bills on top of your rent, such as electricity, internet fees and hot water charges.

Cooking and cleaning: This might not be a con if you like cooking and/or cleaning, but there’ll be nobody to share the load with when it comes to meal preparation and chores.


Live on campus at university

This is where we can really speak with authority, because Trinity College is the oldest residential college at the University of Melbourne (we’ve been going for more than 150 years, so we know what we’re talking about :). Basically, a residential college is an on-campus accommodation facility that offers fun activities, academic programs and pastoral support.


Friends: The transition from high school to university can be steep, but a residential college eases this transition. During your first weeks at college everyone is encouraged to have fun and make new friends, which provides a nice sense of support when you suddenly find yourself away from friends and family. And you know what? Often these new friends will stay with you for life. You’ll often hear alumni of Trinity College say they ‘found their people’ at college. (Be that their new bestie, or even their life partner – we see lots of romances blossom!)

Activities: There are lots of clubs, events and activities to get involved in at college, covering nearly every sport you can think of, plus events like the college play or musical. You can see some of the clubs and societies Trinity College has on offer here. (They include an arts society, music society, outreach committee and wine cellar … the list goes on.)

Food: Most colleges will prepare some or all of your meals for you (woo!), and despite what you may have heard, college food isn’t bad. In fact, at Trinity, we think it’s pretty darn good. You can see our sample menu here. It also doesn’t matter if you’re vegan, gluten-free or an omnivore – we cater to everyone. When it comes to cleaning, you’ll be responsible for keeping your room tidy and doing your own laundry (with onsite facilities available), but don’t worry, you won’t be scrubbing showers: we have professional cleaners for that!

Academic support: One of the biggest challenges to students starting university is the academic transition. At university, the classes are bigger, the course work is more complex, and you are largely responsible for your own studies. Living at a residential college like Trinity however can help you adjust through the provision of academic tutorials. Our tutorials cover every academic area, from arts subjects, to law, commerce, science and more, and our tutors can give you individual assistance. Come exam time, these tutors become valuable resources for guidance and help.


Lots of people, all the time: Colleges tend to be very social, so if you hate being surrounded by people all the time, college life may not be for you. BUT, if you’re just a little shy, college can help you come out of your shell and meet new people – because EVERYONE is there to have fun and make friends. So many people tell us that they built their confidence at college. And while there are parties and events, it’s totally up to you as to whether you want to participate.

Cost: The cost of living at college can be quite high, so this option isn’t for everyone. (Though it’s worth checking out what scholarships are available.) If you CAN afford college though, there are so many benefits that pay off long after you leave, particularly if you choose a college that has a strong sense of community and a supportive alumni network. The connections you make at college and the confidence you build can serve you for life.

So there you have it. Whether you decide to live off campus or on campus, the decision is entirely up to you. But if you do decide to live on campus, we promise, it’ll be one of the best decisions you’ll make in your adult life!

05 Aug 2020