Having the independence and freedom of your own car feels amazing; you can go wherever you want, whenever you want and you no longer have to hang around in the rain to catch smelly buses or fork out for a taxi when you want to venture out. Having your own car is great. But what happens when you reach the end of college or your A levels? Thinking about the next steps to take in your life can already be an overwhelming task…
University? Which one? How much? To study what?
Once you’ve made these life-dictating choices, it may feel like all the heavy decision making has come to an end. But then the realisation dawns that many more questions are about to arise…
Do I need an iron? Should I stock up on pot noodles? Can you live on frozen meals? Should I keep my car?
Whilst these all are somewhat equally important (we absolutely need to look into whether you can survive on microwave lasagne), deciding whether or not to keep your car is a daunting decision. This is a hurdle that I have recently found myself encountering in the difficult and exhausting obstacle course of preparing for university. In order to help myself arrive at a reasonable conclusion; I have compiled together a list of pros and cons for continuing to run my car whilst studying away from home. Hopefully, my considerations will also help you to come to a sensible conclusion regarding keeping your motor, especially if this decision is a barrier that you have also encountered in the run up to university life.
Let’s start with the positives, shall we?
1 – Getting around at home
When you come home from university during the holidays or on the odd weekend, the last thing you want is to be shipwrecked at home, miserably moping around the same four walls with no escape. Having your car with you when visiting home will definitely be an asset to your social life: you don’t want to go back in time to the days of being reliant of the taxi of mum and dad, although borrowing their car and picking up Student Driver Insurance would be an option!
2 – Transport between your home and the university
Not having a car whilst studying away from home can make commuting between the two a bit of a nuisance. You’ll unfortunately be subjected to uncomfortable, sweaty trains and buses every time you need to visit home. For me, this is a nightmarish thought, not to mention the fares of public transport! Another reason why taking my car to uni makes sense… right?
3 – Weekend washing and luggage
It’s also worth considering the struggle of transporting home bundles of underwear or socks that you want your mum to wash, or all your belongings each time you have to move out of your university accommodation. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather stuff a bale of clothes into my boot than have to carry an overflowing washing basket onto the train.
4 – Getting around at university
This consideration is dependent on where you’re studying. If you’re located in a small, close-knit university city where you can easily access a reasonably priced supermarket, a variety of night-life and of course (most importantly) all the universities resources, this is something you probably don’t need to stress about. However, if you’re miles away from student favourite Aldi, or if your university library is a bit of a trek, having a vehicle on hand will make your life so much easier. Not to mention, if you’re studying a course where you are expected to complete work experience of placements outside of the university, having a car will broaden your options and help to avoid the dreaded nightmare of public transport.
As good as it sounds, we can’t ignore the downsides to keeping your car.
1 – Cost
The biggest con of all: costs. We are all aware that any car is basically a money pit, but this can become a real issue when you’re a skint student, struggling to afford your weekly food shop and enough toilet roll to last you until the end of the month. From tax to MOT’s, running a car is a costly commodity. However, everybody’s financial means are different: some people may be lucky enough to comfortably live whilst owning a car, whilst others may not be so fortunate. My advice would be to crunch some numbers and evaluate whether or not it would be a reasonable financial decision for you to continue to run your car whilst still living within your means.
2 – Parking at University
This issue is also dependent on the university that you attend. Very few students are blessed with access to free parking at their accommodation, and therefore have no qualms about where to stow away their motor whilst at university. Although, in big cities, this is a rarity, and parking can often be costly and inconvenient. There may be opportunities to rent out someone’s garage or driveway yet, there’s no guarantee that this will be affordable or close to where you’re staying. Again, it’s recommendable that you conduct your own research regarding parking and check out if there’s anywhere you can keep your car safely and conveniently whilst at university.
3 – Leaving your car at home
On the flip side of the coin, you may choose not to take your car with you to where you are studying, and instead decide to leave it in the hands of your family for use when you come back to visit home. This can also be problematic, especially if parking space is limited at your house. Further issues arise when considering the age and condition of your car, as older motors need frequent running in order to keep them in good nick. Obviously, you won’t be at home to fire up the engine every day or two, so asking a willing family member or friends to do this for you is ideal. Naturally, this depends on whether you can find anyone nice enough to do you such a massive favour- maybe bake them a thank you cake in return.
4 – Always being the designated driver
Admittedly, a lot of university students don’t keep their car whilst studying, so if you’re one of the lucky ones this can lead to you always being entrusted as the designated driver. Whether you’re going out in your home town, or painting your university town red, if you’re the only one with a car in their possession, you can bet that you’ll be asked to drive. Being your friend’s official taxi driver may not sound ideal, but I reckon it’s a small price to pay for keeping your vehicle.
There you have it: now you are fully equipped to make an informed decision on whether or not to keep hold of your car whilst away at university. As you can see, there is both an upside and a downside to maintaining a motor when studying away from home, but only you can assess whether or not it is a reasonable decision depending on your own individual circumstances. Personally, I am yet to decide, and I’ve got a bit more time to weigh up my options. Overall, it is a tough decision, but going to university will be an exciting and new experience, regardless of whether you have a car or not.
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