Should you take a car to university?

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Heading off to university is an expensive venture and huge leap into the unknown, but is it best to face the future on four wheels or on foot?

With financial circumstances differing from student to student, owning a car is unfeasible for many so you should get clued up on the costs of running a car. According to a uSwitch survey, only 33% of students who drive take their car to university with them. But why is this? What are the pros and cons of driving in your university town?

Admiral asked a handful Cardiff University students whether they prefer life in the driver’s seat or if public transport will do.

Chyavan Rees, 22

Course: Economics

Car at university? Yes

“Having a car at university has expanded the part-time employment opportunities available to me. It has allowed me to take a flexible job as a delivery driver and also another job as an activity instructor in the Brecon Beacons. Without having a car I would have found it significantly more difficult to find a part-time job at university.

“When looking for graduate jobs, having a car has meant I don’t have to restrict my job search to areas with good public transport links. Furthermore, having a driving licence can be a valuable addition when applying for graduate jobs that involve regular travelling between clients!”

Katie Ward, 21

Course: Law and Criminology

Car at university? No

“I have been driving for almost a year after failing my test three times. I unfortunately don't have a car at university but drive a lot when I am at home.

“Driving for me is an absolute privilege because it took me so long to pass. At university I miss being free to go and explore the local area, something I love to do at home. My friends and I would love to go and explore them if we were able to easily drive there.

“I think being independent at university would be greatly enhanced if I had a car. For example, being able to drive to my choice of supermarket to do a big shop would mean I had even more time to enjoy university and get stuck into my course. I often feel restricted in what I can do when I'm not driving and yearn for the holidays when I can be back in the driving seat.”

Sarah Clare Pereira, 22

Course: Economics

Car at university? No

“Personally, I don’t see the need to drive at university as everything is within walking distance. Living in a student area is extremely convenient as all amenities are a stone’s throw away. The nearest supermarket to me is a 10 minute walk, the gym is a five minute walk, the pub is just on the corner of my street and everything else I may possibly need can be found in the city centre, situated only a mile away.

“I come from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where it is very difficult to go to and from places without a car or a motorcycle. In Malaysia car ownership is 93%, placing third highest in the world. The lack of a reliable and well-connected public transport systems means that a lot of the population choose to drive instead of opting for other alternatives.

“While I enjoy the convenience of having a car, not having one at university has allowed me to discover Cardiff in a different way. Not having to sit in traffic, pay for fuel or stress over finding a parking spot have definitely been plus points.”

George Caulton, 21

Course: Journalism, Media and English Literature

Car at university? No

“As much as I like the idea of driving at university, the costs of maintaining a car are excessive. Even with my student loan and the income from my part time job, the hidden costs of being a driver have led to me not wanting to learn.

“With this income, I still couldn’t afford to run a car. Costs from parking permits, insurance and maintaining petrol levels are also too high for a student. Also, I genuinely don't have a clue about car insurance rates; I would rather just save the money and spend it on something else.”

(Click here to learn about the costs of our Multi-Car Insurance, which could save you money in the long term!)

Regina Lidder, 20

Course: Architecture

Car at University? Yes

“For me, having a car at uni is a must. It allows me the freedom to work at home and transport large models to the studio with ease. I have been able to visit buildings in order to get inspiration for my projects that would otherwise be very difficult to travel to. Another benefit of having my car at university is being able to go home without relying on public transport, which adds considerable time to an already long journey.”

Emily-Grace Hurst, 21

Course: Law

Car at university? Yes

“Being able to drive and having my own car in university is fantastic. It gives me a lot more freedom to explore the city and definitely helps when big food shops are needed.

"However, being the only one who can drive in my friendship group means I am constantly the designated driver. While most of the time I’m happy to give people a lift, it is irritating when people expect a lift places and don’t even offer petrol money. Despite this, driving in university is a definite benefit; it’s helped me keep my job and see more around the city which wouldn’t be possible without a car.”

So, is having a car at university a do or a don't?

Everyone’s circumstances are different and, as a student, you must look at a number of factors such as your finances, your proximity to local amenities and your distance to home when weighing up the decision to get a car.

Although it may seem expensive, could you be saving money which you’d otherwise be spending on the long train journeys back home?

There’s also the confusion over car insurance, once you leave mum and dad’s house what’s the best way to keep your motor insured? Well, it may be a surprise but despite not living with your family you could still benefit from a MultiCar Insurance policy.

With Multi-Car, immediate family members don’t have to live at the same address so you could all still benefit from MultiCar savings while you live away.

Our handy guide on Multi-Car Insurance should explain all about how the policy works and who it can benefit from having multiple cars on one policy.

A full UK driving licence is sometimes deemed essential for certain graduate jobs, so it is a good idea to start learning as soon as your circumstances will allow you to. Take a look at our first time car buying guide for our tips and tricks to help find the right vehicle for you. Good luck with your studies, and happy driving!

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