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I Moved Out Of Home When I Did My Undergraduate And Here's Why I Wish I Didn't Have To

Honestly, a big factor is money.

Hi there, my name is Clare! Before I moved to a big city to study communications, I lived in a small town on the far south coast of NSW called Narooma.

Aerial shot of a small town nestled in the hills with water winding its way through
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Narooma is a gorgeous place to grow up and my childhood was somewhat idyllic — riding bikes down to the local shops after school for some lollies and a swim, growing up with the next door neighbour's kids and knowing absolutely everyone you pass on the boardwalk.

But, like a lot of people in towns like these, I had to move out of home to pursue higher education.

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Now, don't get me wrong, my experience at university was great — I even continued on with a master's degree, which I finished this year. But, looking back on it now, there were some great study options that didn't occur to me when I was 18.

Here's why I wish I could have stayed studying at home a little longer.

Let's start with the most obvious one — money.

Person putting a coin into a piggy bank

Now, I'll preface this by saying that I am extremely privileged in the fact that my parents paid my rent while I was at university. I'm lucky I was even able to move out of home in the first place to study, but even with my parents' help, I was unprepared for the cost of living out of home.

I will tell you right now that your cleaning supplies and your bathroom toiletries are in cahoots and you will run out of everything you need for a clean existence at the same time. Your grocery bill is going to be way over your budget and you'll scoff at the price of toilet paper.

After I moved to the city, I got a job and began saving most of my income for an upcoming study abroad trip. But, HECS debt is a real thing that I conveniently forgot about all throughout my undergraduate degree. Now, at 26 and beginning to map out my financial future, I can't help but wonder if I could have done things differently.

If I had stayed at home and studied online then I probably would have been able to pay my tuition up front, save my parents a lot of money and maybe even still go for that study year abroad. Hindsight, huh?

And with that money, I could have gotten a jump start on all my future plans.

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Finishing your degree with a tidy little sum of savings next to you is only ever a good thing. It doesn't matter what you plan to do with it: Travel, invest, start a business or put a down payment on a house. By staying at home while you're studying, you've got financial options at the end of the day — especially if you've got part-time work as well.

Since returning from my year abroad, I've worked full-time while studying so I could afford to live in the same city of my university. It wasn't until my master's degree switched to online learning this year, that I realised how much money I could save — even still living out of home. It's the little things, like not spending $10 a day on transport, or getting sucked into buying another coffee just before my class starts.

Then there's the flexibility and support network that I left when I moved out of home.

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When you move out of home to go and study, you're not only adapting to a whole new environment, you're also adapting to it without your family support network.

In my first year at university, I had to call my mum so I could figure out the time. It was the daylight savings weekend and my first time ever living in a house without an analog clock. All my devices automatically changed, but I wasn't sure they had changed (I mean, you wake up and you're just meant to trust that your phone has correctly updated to the new time?). Hence, the call to my mother.

When I was studying from home this year, I realised that not having to travel in for class or frantically read notes on the train from work to uni was an absolute blessing. The flexibility of studying in my own space, with my own coffee downstairs and all my notes organised in a single area (instead of shoved into whatever bag I was using on the day) meant that my last semester of study was, by far, one of the most pleasant.

Not to mention, studying online opens up the whole of Australia.

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Studying online is a great option with a lot of benefits. You can connect with study buddies all around the country — which means you'll get a head start on creating professional networks right around Australia! Not to mention, lining up some epic opportunities to visit friends everywhere from Perth to the Gold Coast — post-COVID road trip, anyone?

But not all universities are created equal when you study online, so it pays to do your research and choose one with proven success. For example, Charles Darwin University has been delivering online and distance education for 30 years, so they know what they’re doing. Plus it's ranked second for employment and starting salaries according to The Good Universities Guide 2021.

They have an easy-to-use online platform and 24/7 academic and tech support — so you know that you'll have the resources to succeed in your studies. Plus, there are over 100 courses available that are all online, meaning you can reap the benefits of studying your dream course online.

Whatever option you're going for, everyone's study experience is unique and if you're starting out right now — there's a whole range of ways you can further your education, without having to leave home.

While I still thoroughly enjoyed living out of home throughout my studies, I've said it before and I'll say it again — if my parents lived in a city, rather than a small coastal town, I'd still probably be living at home today.

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