What is it like living alone at University
empty spiral staircase near white wooden door
Photo by Eduard Militaru on Unsplash

What is it like living alone at University?

Ella Kipling January 11, 2022

Have you ever wondered what it is like living alone at university? I’ll be honest, living by myself was not the situation I expected to be in in my final year. Nor was it a purposeful choice. While everyone around me was sorting their housing for final year, I was submitting my year abroad plans and looking up student accommodation in France, where I was headed in September.

Then, in June, everything came crashing down (a way-too-long story I will save for another time) and my year abroad was cancelled. Suddenly, I began to panic. I had no housing sorted for my final year at university, and everybody I knew had already signed their leases months prior.

I could roll the dice on meeting people on the university Facebook page. Something many people do every year- some of my best friends actually did this! But I didn’t want to deal with the stress of moving in with strangers. After a tough year filled with family loss, a pandemic, and quite severe anxiety, I didn’t have the mental capacity to deal with the stress of meeting random people online and moving in with them. So, I set out to find a studio flat, chose one, and signed the lease that day.

This year, living in my own place, I genuinely could not be happier and I thank my lucky stars every day that my year abroad fell through. 

Take a chance

My biggest piece of advice would be: If you think you would be happier living by yourself then go for it. I think there is a big expectation at university to live in a crumbling house with eight of your best friends. That can be an amazing experience for lots of students. But it isn’t for everybody.

I came to a point where I knew I could either sign a lease with people I may not be compatible living with, or I could take an alternative route (which people could have judged me for) and choose to live alone. At the end of the day, you are the only person who has to live with yourself and your decisions. You may as well do what makes you happy regardless of other people’s opinions.

It turns out, some of the closest friends I made in my final year also lived alone. So I wasn’t the only one in that situation. Now… onto the pros. 

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

The positives

For me, the pros are endless. I don’t have to put up with other people’s mess, the neverending drama other people seem to constantly be dealing with amongst their housemates, and the fights over chores. I can set my own routine without worrying about being considerate to other people.

If I fancy a shower when I get home at 4am from the club? I can hop in and wash the spilt VKs away. If I want to make microwave popcorn at midnight? I’ll go for it. I cook when I want, I do my laundry when I want, and all this makes my life much easier. 

The peace and quiet of living alone is also a huge pro in my opinion. Sometimes after a long day filled with noise and stress, all you want to do is have a bath and get in bed. Not have to stuff ear plugs into your ears to block out the sound of your housemate partying until 2am. I feel so calm living without this noise and it has worked wonders on my mental health and my ability to focus on work. However, this has also positively impacted my social life too. Getting more sleep, being able to run on my own schedule, and knowing that I have a quiet flat to return to afterwards makes me all the more likely to go out with friends and fill my social calendar with fun things. 

The negatives

Are there any cons? For me, no. However, if certain things about my flat were different there probably would be a few concerns. If you’re living alone, you want to make sure you still live close enough to others. Where I live in Selly Oak, Birmingham, all the students live in very close proximity. So I made sure to get a flat within that area.

There were plenty of nice flats further away. But I knew I didn’t want to be stuck walking alone in the dark off the beaten track after a long day on campus or night out. I can get to my best friend’s house within four minutes, and my boyfriend’s in about six. So location for me, when renting a studio flat, is everything. 

If you are also quite a shy person, I would say that is something you need to take into account when making the decision on whether to live alone or not. I am pretty social, and spend every day on campus or out with friends. So coming home to my own space and being alone for an hour in the evening provides the perfect balance for me. However, if I was someone who struggled to make friends, go on nights out, or get involved, I would worry that living alone could be quite lonely. If you are living alone, make sure to join societies and get stuck in with social activities so you don’t end up spending everyday by yourself. 

Each to their own

In summary, living alone works for me. I like my own space, I like peace and quiet. If anything, having that personal safe haven makes me more likely to go and spend a lot of time out and about with friends.

Everyone is different though, and everyone thrives in different circumstances and settings, so it is important to weigh up all your options. 

See also: UK students are paying 60% more for halls than 10 years ago

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Ella Kipling is an Entertainment and News Writer at GRV Media. She regularly writes a mixture of news and features for HITC and has been part of the team since 2020. After graduating from the University of Birmingham with a BA (Hons) in English Literature, Ella is currently studying for an MA in Magazine Journalism at City University. She has a keen interest in current affairs and can usually be found reading the news, with her nose in a book (and updating her Goodreads), talking about women’s rights, or listening to Showtunes.