Thinking of moving out? Read this first!
One of the most daunting things about beginning university, whether you’ve just left high school or have been out for a few years, is considering where you’ll live when you begin your studies. Make no mistake, when done right, student life can be the greatest years of your life. However, it can also be a living hell if you fall behind on your classes, isolate yourself, stop going to class, and don’t take care of yourself in general. And a big part of that is where you’re staying.
You have to think about your living arrangements. Where are you going to stay? Are you going to keep living with your parents, or move out and give the living independent thing a shot?
I stayed with my parents in Redcliffe for the first year of my degree, last year. It was a good year. I will say, though, being stuck on public transport for 3 hours a day (90 minutes there, 90 minutes back..) with screaming babies kicking the back of your chair while you’re trying to do your readings, is not the most fun sensation on earth. Not to mention the people giving you looks of murder when you are talking on your phone. Driving a car is awesome, if you can pay the hefty fees and find a good place to park it. Otherwise you’re likely to have to bus or train it. If you must do the latter, I recommend avoiding peak times like 8-9am and 4.30-6pm when it gets packed to the rafters, unless you like being squashed in a sea of people.
If you are living close to university with your parents, that’s cool. Stay with them as long as you can. Free food, no bills, no rent, no flatmates stealing your food. Win win.
However, there IS something to be said about living away from your family. It can be an incredibly motivating, emancipating thrill. Especially if you find people with similar interests to you and you get on well. I’m doing the latter now, living in Fortitude Valley, and it’s quite the interesting experience to say the least. I must warn you though, in a living space like this, one of the cons is with all the distractions epic adventures found in the city nightlife, its easy to not get any work done.
When you DO move out (and let’s face it, you will. No one wants to live with their parents forever), I must stress this point again. LIVE WITH PEOPLE YOU CAN SEE YOURSELF GETTING ON WITH. If your flatmate is an angry 49 year old man who is bitter at the world, eats your food, yells at you about leaving lights on, and has a cynical view of life, then you’re likely to not look forward to coming home. A good tip is live with people within a 5 year age bracket of yourself, who clean after themselves, don’t let 5-day old dirty dishes stack up to the ceiling, are sociable, respect your privacy (no digging around in your clothes drawer >______>) and have a general good will towards others. That means no sociopaths for you.
Now, for the logistics. It’s a good idea to stay somewhere close to the university. Moving out to a random place like Chermside may sound like fun, but if you have to catch the bus for 35 minutes just to get on campus, you have to rethink if it’s not more worthwhile staying closer. Living in inner-city apartments in places like Brisbane City, Southbank and Fortitude Valley can be a lot of fun, although admittedly it gets noisy on weekends. If you’re one of the ones creating the noise, like me, then you’re all set! Otherwise, sleeping with music is always a fun activity.
And food. There’s no reason to make it hard for yourself. The first two weeks I moved out, I did nothing but eat cereal and 7/11 sandwiches for two weeks. Quick and easy, but VERY tiresome, especially after the 4th day of nothing else. You want something quick, easy and healthy? BUY FRUIT! It’s the perfect student food. Quick, easy, nutritious, and it leaves you with an inner glow for the rest of the day. Gotta love it. Another winner is frozen vegetables and easy things to cook like rice and pasta. Stack up on those my wayward son/daughter (..that last statement will make no sense to you unless you’re a fan of Kansas, or the TV series Supernatural).
For help with finding a place, check out QUT Accommodation Services. For help with paying rent, call up Centrelink and ask them for what kind of assistance you can get (good luck getting through… it took them 2 and a half months to get back to my claim, but hey, they backpaid me $2500, so I’m not complaining).
Seriously though, call them and see where you land. I know that for first years who move out to go to University, you can land $4000 under the new Relocation Scholarship (more info here). Apply for youth allowance, or Abstudy/Austudy. Its free money, and it’s your right to have it. You’re only putting yourself at a disadvantage if you don’t check it out.
And finally, don’t feel like you’re trapped. An important thing to remember is you can leave at any time. Unless you’re duped into signing one of those year-long contract things. In which case I say, ouch.
Need more help or have any queries about moving out? Leave a comment below. I’ve experienced, and have heard of some definite flatmate horror stories that I’m more than willing to discuss in future posts. Like the time I walked in on my flatmate in the shower >_> (in my defense.. i) he didn’t lock his door ii) I knocked iii) I was looking for toilet paper iv) who showers with the door open? O_o