The university offer has come, enrolment is completed, now there’s just one thing left to decide – is your teenager moving out of home?
This question is often met with mixed feelings, and understandably so. Making a decision about your daughter or son moving out of home is not quite as straightforward when they’re attending university locally. The list of pros and cons can appear fairly balanced.
Ultimately, the answer to your teen's question 'should I move away from home?' depends on your family situation and your teen’s personality. So, we’ve put together a straightforward list of pros and cons for moving out of home for uni, as well as a few questions to discuss with your teen, which will help you both come to a decision.
The pros and cons of moving out of home to go to university
The big ‘F’. This one is usually the first thing most teens and parents need to consider when contemplating whether moving out of home to study is a viable option. We aren’t going to sugar coat it – the cost of living out of home is high, especially in capital cities, and the income of a tertiary student is usually quite low. Despite this disparity, however, many students still manage to pay rent and bills, work, study and save. It isn’t easy, but it’s doable.
Have you calculated the estimated cost of your studies, and how long it will take you to pay off your student loan/s (if applicable)?
When would you like to own your own home?
Do you have any costly purchases you wish to prioritise soon, e.g. a car or an international holiday?
Do you plan to continue to work at, or find, a casual job while you study? Or would you prefer to focus on your studies?
Higher cost of living is often one of the biggest disadvantages of moving out of home. Make sure you talk to your teen about their short- and long-term goals, and how they prioritise these, when discussing the financial impacts of moving away to study.
Independence tends to be the main driving factor behind a teenager moving out of home. Transitioning into adulthood is an exciting time, and many teens don’t want to feel as though they’re lagging behind their peers who’ve chosen to leave the nest.
Conversely, some teens may be more reluctant to leave home during a period of big change. Having a stable and familiar home environment may be what they need to cope with these shifts in their everyday life. It may not be so much that they’re scared to move out of home, but just that they need time to settle into university life before they’re ready to go out on their own.
Sometimes the excitement of moving out of home for the first time and starting a new life can overshadow the actual purpose of relocating – to study at university. It’s important for your teen to think about the kind of study habits they want to develop and the grades they’re aiming for. Where they’re living can have a big impact on their study.
Your teen may choose to keep home and study environments separate – for example, if they live in a crowded share house but utilise the university library for study. Help them carefully consider what kind of environment they need to concentrate, and where they'll be able to create this.
UQ St Lucia's Law Library has 24-hour study spaces for quiet, focused concentration.
Going to university is a chance to meet new people, try new things and get involved in different social circles. There’s undoubtedly more freedom for teens to do this outside of the family home.
Navigating new relationships while living at home can be an uncomfortable and sensitive topic for both you and your teen. Keep an open and transparent dialogue about mutual respect and agree on a set of ground rules for guests. Your teen will need to learn to do this with anyone they live with, so establishing these expectations early will set them up for harmonious share house living when they eventually end up moving out of home for the first time.
You may have concerns about your teenager moving out of home and distancing themselves from the family. These are natural feelings for parents, and it can be hard to let go after having your child so close to you for what’s often been their entire life. Keep in mind that distance can make many teens appreciate their family even more.
Do you feel as though living at home would stifle your ability to explore romantic relationships?
Are we able to come to an agreement about bringing guests back to the family home if you decide to stay?
Do you think living at home will restrict your freedom to go out partying and socialising with your friends?
Would you be happy to establish regular family meals or check-ins if you move out of home?
Pros of moving out
Cons of moving out
freedom to explore different social circles
privacy for romantic relationships
distance may enhance appreciation of family/strengthen family relationships
increased networking opportunities for future career.
distance may put a strain on communication with family/increase alienation
potential risk of ‘falling in with the wrong crowd’ without parental guidance
neglecting former local communities/relationships that provided social nourishment.
When is the right time for your teen to move out of home?
Only you and your teen can decide when is the ‘right’ time for moving out of home to study at university. They may feel ready now and want to move out as soon as possible, or they may feel reluctant to make this big change just yet. We hope discussing all of the above factors has shed some light on the practicalities involved with moving out for uni.
Your teenager moving out of home is a big step. Remember to be kind to yourself and to them while making the decision. Milestones like this take careful consideration, and talking openly about it together will make the process smoother.