Advice & Hacks
Should I Take My Car With Me When I Go To University?
It can be a pretty big dilemma can’t it - should you take your car to university with you or not?
For the majority of people going to university at the age of 18 or 19, the chances are you haven’t been on the roads that long, and the prospect of going back to destroying shoes in the rain, fighting for space on a packed bus or having to shell out your limited funds for another Uber is - understandably - not that enticing.
Obviously it’s going to depend on your individual situation - you’ll have to take into account how easy your uni is to access on public transport, how far away you’ll be living and of course if you can afford it, but it’s worth carefully considering whether or not it’s worth having a car as a student.
To try and help with the decision student insurance company, Endsleigh, had a good look at both the pros and cons of student car ownership to see whether having your wheels at uni will be a burden or a bonus…
It doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg...
There’s no getting away from the fact that having and running a car comes at a financial cost. There’s insurance, tax, petrol, MOTs, breakdown cover, parking, the list goes on…
The good news is that as far as insurance goes, Endsleigh - specialists in student car owners - have absolutely got you covered. You can tailor the cover to suit your needs (handily, accidental damage comes as part of their comprehensive cover) and you can even save on breakdown cover with the RAC through Endsleigh.
Endsleigh is the number one UK student insurance provider with over 50 years experience, so believe me, they know what they're talking about and fully understand the needs of a student car owner.
You don't have to take my word for it though, Endsleigh are also come highly recommended by the NUS themselves, so it's well worth checking out their offers here.
“They’ll never take our FREEDOM”
Getting your first car can represent a major step on the road to freedom. All of a sudden you’re no longer at the mercy of bus timetables and you don’t have to rely on parents to take on the role of taxi driver along with all their other responsibilities!
The freedom to take off within moments and the ability to meet someone in 20 minutes rather than an hour and a half is a liberating feeling!
In the same way, having your car with you at university provides exactly the same benefits.
Between lectures, studying, playing sports and socialising, your time can fill up pretty quickly and there will be times when the practicality of having a car will save you valuable time in managing a busy schedule.
‘A change is as good as a rest’
A major bonus of having your car will be the ability to get out of your everyday environment every now and then to enjoy some valuable head space.
You can’t put a price on the benefits of being able to jump in the car, drive for 30 minutes and get out of the city into the countryside - even just for a few hours - for your mental health.
But it won’t just benefit you. Although there is something great about being the person with the car as it automatically means you’re involved in planning days out and weekends away with your mates, a trip to the country for a walk, or day out at an amusement park will help everyone unwind and shake off those cobwebs from the night before…
Shop ’til you drop
In my experience the single most useful time to have a car at university is when you need to do the dreaded ‘big shop’.
Trudging back from the supermarket as your fingers slowly become starved of blood from the weight of shopping bags is about as little fun as you can imagine - especially in the depths of winter!
However, having a car with you won’t just make everything much, much easier for you, I can pretty much guarantee that friends and flatmates will be all over you for a lift to the supermarket.
And if they’re as grateful as they should be, they’ll be happy to share the cost of petrol, and you may even get a cheeky pizza out of the deal…
A big situation in which you’ll be grateful for having your car is for trips home.
After a few weeks of micromanaging the heating, eating beans on toast and doing all your own laundry (sorry in advance parents) a trip home to enjoy fresh sheets, a warm house, and maybe even the odd fresh vegetable will be seriously on the cards.
And let’s face it, you’re not going to want to drag a month’s worth of washing on an - unless you’ve been organised enough to book in a dance - overpriced train are you? Hell no, you’re going to want to chuck it on the back seat and hit the road!
On a more serious note, everyone experiences homesickness at some point and the ability to jump in the car for a trip home at short notice can feel like a valuable connection and a real lifeline at times.
And that is probably the crux of the argument for taking your car with you - it’s an option. You don’t have to use it every day, but for the occasions when you do, you’ll be glad you had the choice.
Can I park here?
Most students spend at least their first year in halls of residence, the vast majority of which have either very limited or no parking spaces.
‘Okay, well, I’ll just park on the roadside somewhere instead’ I hear you say. Well, you could do that, but just bear in mind that this will up your insurance premium - a lot.
The other option is to pay for private parking, but again on the average student budget, ideally you don’t want to have to be forking out for parking when the chances are you won’t even be using your car every day.
It may be slightly different after first year when more people move into shared houses rather than halls, but one of the main reasons somewhere will become a ‘student area’ is that it's either close enough to campus to walk, or has good public transport connections.
Some cities will operate a student discount on public transport with others even offering free travel, and if you ever feel like you’ve had enough of buses you could always…
Get on your bike!
Having no car forces you to walk or cycle, which is great for a whole host of reasons.
First of all there’s no better way to get to know the ins and outs of a new place; the quirky little coffee shops, the best charity shops and the cheapest night spots than to have a good wander on foot - you miss so much of the detail when you drive everywhere!
Your body will thank you as you walk or cycle off the excesses of the previous night, with studies showing that not only is walking the most accessible way to get fit and feeling reinvigorated – it's free, requires zero special equipment, and can be done anywhere, anytime and the potential benefits are huge!
Walking for just 30 minutes a day can boost your immune system, lower the risk of heart disease, battle obesity, lower blood pressure, prevent cancer and even boost your memory - especially useful in the run-up to exam season…
And as for cycling, well, where do we begin? Increased cardiovascular fitness, improved joint mobility, improved posture and coordination, strengthened bones, decreased body fat levels, increased muscle strength and disease prevention to name but a few!
And it doesn’t end there, physical activity is proven to improve your mental as well as physical health, with regular walking and cycling aiding in reducing stress and anxiety levels.
It’s important to remember stay as safe as possible though - please make sure to walk in groups at night if possible and it should go without saying that a helmet, functioning lights and reflective gear are must-haves when out on your bike.
The environment will thank you…
More and more cities and towns in the UK are trying to discourage the use of cars as the damaging effects of pollution to our environment become increasingly obvious.
As a result, a number of larger cities are actively making themselves less appealing to drivers and more appealing to pedestrians and cyclists with improvements to cycle lanes, congestion charges and car free zones to name a few.
As well these measures it’s also important for each one of us to take responsibility for the wellbeing of our planet on our own shoulders.
There are many people for whom walking or cycling to and from university or work is an impossibility. So if we’re willing and able, we kind of have an obligation to do all we can - if you’ve cycled into uni every day for the last year you can feel less guilty about jumping on a flight to go on holiday I reckon!
Overall the choice is obviously down to you, and your circumstances will dictate what’s best.
Whatever you decide to do, be smart and stay safe!