Local or commuting students

Each year a significant proportion of the University’s first year students choose to live off-campus with their family, partner, friends or by themselves. Staying local or commuting to university may not be the typical situation for students, but many students find it to be a better option for them for a variety of reasons. 

Benefits of staying local or commuting

There are lots of reasons that students decide to travel to university from their family home or not to move into university accommodation: finance, convenience, family commitments, to name a few, and there are lots of benefits too.

  • Easier transition to being a student, as your home life is likely to change less significantly than those moving away from home. 
  • Already knowing the local area and the best places to go.
  • Saving money - living at home could make your finances less strained.
  • Support - you are more likely to have an established network of support around you for those stressful times.

Challenges of being a local student

  • Making friends - you may feel that while other students simply fall into friendship groups within their accommodation, you have to make more of an effort. Remember that it is worth making that extra effort, and get involved in university life, as it is valuable to have peer support from those who understand what you are going through. 
  • Travelling - this is likely to become a significant aspect of your university life. Make sure you know the best ways to travel  around, and have backup plans in case of delays or cancellations.
  • Getting back from nights out - if you know someone who lives close to you, why not try to arrange parallel nights out and agree to travel together.
  • Don't miss out - making use of the many facilities the University has available for you (library, sports centre, clubs and societies, study spaces), may be more difficult when you don't live next to them, but remember it is all part of the experience, so you should make the most of them. Having an active university life will help you to feel part of the University community.

Tips from current students

Get involved

  • Join societies, sign up for a sports team, attend some events, get a job on campus, but try not to go home at every available opportunity, as you do not want to miss out on campus life.
  • Follow us on Twitter and like our  Facebook page to make sure you don't miss out on what's happening across campus.  Look out for events relevant to you e.g. for your course, School, clubs or societies.
  • Getting some work experience on campus could help you feel more involved in on-campus life. Sign up with Worklink to find out about the paid part-time work available or find out about volunteering opportunities with the Guild.
  • You could volunteer to be a buddy for new international students through the Global Buddies scheme, and help them settle into life in Birmingham.
  • Use the Welcome timetable to find events you're interested in during Welcome.



  • Use your journey time to your advantage. Reading, catching up on notes, listening to podcasts of lectures (or other topics related to your course), making lists or even just thinking through what you need to do can often be done whilst travelling.
  • Time between lectures can be a great opportunity to type up notes, start on your essays, or read up on course material. You can use the map, live occupancy, and PC availability on our study spaces page to find a spot to study on campus.
  • Get a good travel mug and water bottle to enjoy your favourite drinks without the coffee shop prices!

Use your knowledge of the local area

  • Why not offer to show your coursemates your favourite places to go in the local area? Moving to a new city can be daunting, so many students will appreciate someone who knows their way around.

Quotes from previous local students

"Many other people are choosing to commute from home and some even share my course, my train, and, more importantly, my interests."

"I've been able to save some money this first year to help me during the rest of University, which I know is something that a lot of my friends in halls have not been able to do."

"My choice to live at home seemed the most sensible option months ago when I was completing my UCAS form but just recently the trepidation has been creeping in."

"That's what has me most frightened. Will I make friends? It's such a simple concept, something that many of do without even realising. You just...start talking to somebody and suddenly you're laughing, exchanging funny stories and finally contact details."

"The journey is an excellent opportunity to catch up on any reading I may have missed and I’ve been getting a lot more extra-curricular reading done as well."

"As a student who stayed at home during my studies at the university, I did feel that I had to be more proactive in becoming involved in social activities."

"By my final year at university I had developed close friendships with students who lived in Selly Oak, making it easy to feel involved in the student community and be invited to University-based social events."

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