With the traffic, should your college-age kid try boarding?

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As the opening of the school year approaches, most of us would be thinking about the daily commute to school. Whether you’re a parent or a student, you’ve probably recognized that traffic is worsening, and have wondered if it would be better to rent a place near school instead of making the daily commute.

In some cases, this may prove to be financially advantageous while also helping bring down stress levels of the student. However, this is not true for all. Boarding entails costs and associated expenses. It also means embracing a lot of responsibilities and learning to be independent. Depending on your circumstances, each option has its pros and cons, and you should carefully what is the best option for you.

As a student, if you still have not decided if boarding is a good option for you, here are five factors to consider:

1. Availability of dorms and spaces for rent. Not all universities and colleges have in-house dormitories or if they do, there may not be enough rooms available. Dormitories run by private companies and individuals may be found close to some universities. You may want to check out these places, and be familiar with rules governing hours, visitors, and the like. Other students opt to rent rooms with friends, a loose arrangement which could be great if your house or roommates respect the rules you have set among yourselves, especially governing payment. However, tales of horrible rooms – or housemates also abound, so be aware of this risk.
 
2. Cost of rental. Depending on what’s out there, rental costs could range from a low of P3,000 a month for bed spacers to as much as P15,000 for those who are renting condo units on their own. From a purely financial perspective, it would be most advantageous to rent a place or go to a dorm if this will cost less than commuting to and from your place. Of course, you have to add all costs associated with renting, such as utilities, laundry, additional meals, and the like. Make sure to know what these are before making a decision.
 
3. Transportation costs. Compute how much you spend monthly on transportation costs, whether you’re taking public transportation or your own car. If it’s the latter, that would include the cost of gasoline, driver’s salary, toll fees, and maintenance costs. For those who live relatively near the school and for whom transportation costs are low, there might be no compelling need to rent. For those who live far, their transportation-related costs could be so high that dorming presents a less stressful, more time-saving option. If you spend P500 on transportation daily, that’s P10,000 a month, which might be enough to pay for a share of a room near school.
 
4. Travel time. Even if your transportation costs are low, you also need to look at how much time is spent on traveling. Needless to say, hours spent on the road can raise your stress levels and make you less attentive at school. It could also eat into your study hours. If you have to leave so early in the morning and you get home so late at night because of long travel hours, then you may end up being so tired to study or do your homework, thereby compromising academic performance and learning.
 
5. Food and associated expenses. Staying at home is definitely a lot cheaper since you will simply be eating from what has been prepared for the rest of the family. This is not the case when you’re renting. Be prepared to spend on meals and other living expenses if you choose to board. If you spend P150 for dinner and P150 for lunch, that’s P6,000 a month! Other costs to consider are laundry and cleaning (unless you take home your clothes during the weekend), telecommunication costs, housekeeping, and others. You might also have to buy some personal appliances such as your own electric fan or aircon, TV, and the like.

As you can see, there is no one answer as each individual’s situation is unique. What works for you may not work for your classmate or best friend. Take note that budget is a primary consideration, because your decision will rely on what you can actually afford.

One more thing to keep in mind is the quality of life. Depending on your circumstances, the quality of life you get will either be better or not as great if you board. On one hand, boarding means freedom and enjoying all the perks that come with independence – setting your own rules, choosing what to eat and what to do, etc. On the other hand, it also means having to pay for just about everything, and putting up with your roommates/housemates. You might also miss the comforts of home (which could mean having someone to do your laundry and cook your meals, free wi-fi, and better surroundings) and some family members.

In the end, you’ll need to look at each of the factors above and decide if boarding is a sound option for you. Although the financial aspect is definitely an important factor to consider, do put some weight into the other concerns, as all these will impact your life for the next school year.

Grow Your Money is an editorial partnership between news.abs-cbn.com and Citi Philippines to promote financial education and provide helpful information to Filipinos on how to better manage their personal finances.
Visit www.citibank.com.ph for more information.



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