Should I move away or stay at home for university?

Should I move away or stay at home for university?

Should I move away or stay at home for university
Should I move away or stay at home for university
Holly Melvin
4th Year Medical Student at The University of Manchester, Instagram account: @that.girl.medic
February 17, 2022

When you’re applying to medical school, there are so many different factors you have to think about. GCSE and A level requirements, BMAT or UCAT, interview style and the list just goes on and on! 

In amongst all of these decisions and your preparation for exams and work experience, it can be really easy to forget that wherever you choose to study will be your home for the next 5/6 years!!! As such, it’s really worth spending some time thinking about whereabouts you’re going to end up, and if moving away is the right decision for you.

In this article, I will discuss the pros and cons of studying at home and the pros and cons of studying away. This is not a decision you should rush or one that you should make just after reading this one article! Make sure you take the time to really think about this, talk to your family and your friends before you decide.

Pros and cons of studying at home 

There are so many positives to living at home, and you shouldn’t feel like you are not getting the ‘proper university experience’ if you do decide staying at home is best for you. Your university experience is whatever you want it to be! However, staying at home isn’t the right choice for some people. 

Saving money

Saving money is a huge bonus of studying at home. Student loans and the NHS bursary are not huge, and money can be really tight when you’re a student. As a student, you will have to balance rent, groceries, bills, and other expenditures. 

However, there are so many expenditures that most students don’t have, including travel costs to placement and placement clothes – some universities may give bursaries towards this, but others don’t. Although you do get a smaller student loan / NHS bursary by living at home, you do save so much money on rent, bills, and groceries. 

College to university transition

The transition to the first year can be made earlier by living at home. The first year, especially in the first few months, can be difficult if you move away. The adjustment to managing your money for the first time, making new friends and getting used to a completely different city is a lot! By staying at home, you really eliminate a lot of these problems and you are better able to concentrate on your studies. 

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Moving out later?

Just because you stay at home in your first year doesn’t mean you can’t move out later on. If you apply to a university in your home town/city, or at one that is a commutable distance, you might decide to stay home at first and move out later on. 

This means you can avoid student halls and just either find a place for yourself or share a place with friends you’ve got to know, trust and feel comfortable and happy to live with! 

Making friends

Some people may find that making friends can be more difficult if you stay at home. Although this isn’t the case for everyone, some people find they make their best friends in student halls, so you may miss out on this if you stay at home. You might also find it harder to timetable your social activities or socialise spontaneously if you’re having to commute further to get home or have family commitments.

Pros and cons of studying away from home 

As I said, living at home whilst studying at university isn’t for everyone. For some, moving away is something they’re looking forward to as part of their university journey, and they want the independence that living away from home brings. However, some people don’t want to move away from home yet, and that’s okay too! 

Staying close

Just because you choose to move away from home doesn’t mean you can’t go home! If you’re not sure whether you want to move away from home or not, it might be worth applying to universities that aren’t a million miles away. That means that you can come and go from home as often as you need. If you decide you’re doing okay, you can stay in university accommodation, but if you’re struggling the option is always there to go home.

New city

Moving to a new city/university can be both daunting and exciting! If you‘ve only lived in one place your whole life, university presents an opportunity to finally explore somewhere else and make it into your home! 

Moving can go one of two ways, you might love it or you might hate it. If you’ve grown up in a city, perhaps you want to run away to a campus university in a smaller town and be closer to the countryside. On the flip side, if you’ve grown up in the countryside, city life might be a nice change for you, with all the excitement, opportunities, different foods and activities it brings. If you can, try to visit your chosen universities a few times so that you can get a feel for the place, and decide if it’s the right place for you to live.


Balancing money is hard! I won’t go into too much detail here, because it’s already covered earlier. But if you know that you’re not ready for that kind of stress, save it for when you’re a qualified doctor and have a bit more leeway! 

New area

An issue with moving away to study is that you won’t know your way around the area. Although with time you do obviously become more familiar, having a locals insider knowledge of the area is super helpful when it comes to things like preparing for and travelling to placement. For example, if you’ve never been on trams before, getting used to the tram maps and system can take a while! 

To conclude, there are so many different things to think about when deciding if you want to move away to start university, or if you want to study from home. This article is not an exhaustive list, and you might have personal circumstances which make one choice better than the other for you. The most important thing is to really think about this, and do what you think will set you up for the best medical school experience possible.


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