Should Singaporean Uni Students Fork Out the Money to Live on Campus?

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Reading the Singapore news is a constant reminder that life just keeps getting more expensive. Just last week alone, we received news that we’ll soon be paying higher electricity tariffs AND public car parking charges. Yay.

Those Singaporeans who aren’t old enough to have to worry about the above aren’t spared, either. Because they get to rejoice at the news that hostel fees for local university students have risen sharply over the last few years.

A non air-conditioned double room (yes, that means there’s another person sleeping in the same room as you) at NTU now costs $245, while a single air-conditioned room costs $395 to $425.

Over at NUS, a single room will set you back between $400 to $540 a month, while a double room is $300 a month.

At SMU, it gets even more expensive at $643 for a single room and $536 for a double room, although that’s understandable given the fact that their hostel is at the very central Prinsep Street.

Now, the drawback of living on campus is obvious—it will cost you more than living with mum and dad, and unless your parents are willing and able to fork out the fee payments, you’ll have to find a way to make ends meet. Still, housing on campus is significantly cheaper than renting a room on the free market.

For those students who are wondering if “staying in hall” is worth all those extra hours of tuition you’ll be giving to pay for it, here are some advantages you’ll enjoy.


If your parents live far from campus, living on campus will make your life much easier

For most Singaporeans, travelling to university is going to take a lot more time than travelling to secondary school did, especially if you end up in NTU, which is about as accessible as the Lim Chu Kang cemeteries.

And as you’ll also learn, going to school isn’t a simple matter of turning up for flag raising and then leaving after your teacher dismisses your last class.

In many courses, there are group projects to deal with, or long days spent doing research in the library, and they often entail staying on campus till late at night or showing up on weekends.

If you live 1.5 hours away from school, that’s going to be an obstacle if you’re the sort who wants to excel academically.

It could also get in the way of your participation in campus life. You’re just that much more likely to sign up for CCAs or turn up for university events if you don’t have to make a long commute to get to school.


You’ll have a wider social network

Every single one of my friends who has lived at university has said that the biggest advantage is that you instantly make tons of friends. You’re living with these people and see them 24/7, not just in class.

Conversely, I know many people who didn’t live on campus and who didn’t make a single friend at university (this tends to be quite common in courses like NTU Engineering for some reason).

Of course, it’s not set in stone that you won’t make friends if you don’t live on campus. If you’re the outgoing sort and can be bothered to sign up for CCAs and activities, you won’t go through those three or four years alone.

Still, for many living on campus is the easiest and most convenient way to make friends with tons of people from different courses. You’ll be involved in hostel activities and will have people to jio you out for supper, which is the fun part for most.


If you have problems at home, this is an affordable way to move out

Despite the increases in hostel rents, staying in one is still a lot cheaper than trying to move out on your own. To put things in perspective, what SMU is charging for a single room is at least half the price of an equivalent in the same location.

Sounds sad, but let’s not pretend that students from disruptive families don’t exist. Maybe you’re not able to get a moment’s peace and quiet at home. Or you have a disturbed parent or sibling.

If staying home is affecting you negatively, moving out to a hostel could be your chance to escape that, at least until university is over. It’s totally possible to cover the costs by taking on a few tuition students, so consider this option if you really have to.


It might be cheaper for your family to rent out your room at home and ship you out to a hostel

Ironically, due to the relatively low cost of hostel rentals, your family might actually be able to make a little money by having you stay in a hostel and then renting out your room.

If you get to stay on campus for, say, $500, that would be cheaper than the $700 to $1,000 it would cost to rent out an HDB bedroom, depending on which area your parents’ flat is situated. If your family lives on private property, they might be able to earn even more.


SMU students get to live in the heart of town

Students enrolled at SMU enjoy the most convenient location of all the hostels, since they’ll be living on Prinsep Street in the Dhoby Ghaut area.

That can be a big advantage if you’re working part-time or interning in the CBD during the semester, as you get to save tons of time that would otherwise be wasted shuttling to and from home, the CBD and university (think of the poor NTU students in the same position!)

Would you want to live on campus? Tell us why or why not in the comments!