You spent a fortune passing your test, you scrimped and saved to buy your first car and now you’re off to uni. Should you take your four-wheeled prize possession with you? Your initial thought is probably: absolutely. You’ve only just passed, you need the practice, otherwise you’ll never be confident; besides it’ll be great to have that mobility. But before you start packing that boot there are a few things you need to consider.
The first question is: do you need a car at Uni? Sure, it would be nice, but do you really need it to get around or are there cheaper and easier ways of getting around, like bicycle or bus? The average annual cost of running a car for an under-twenty-five is about £2,300, is that money which you could be saving?
How car friendly is the city that you’ll be moving to? Will you be able to park securely, and will there be a cost involved? Remember that as far as your insurer is concerned, your uni address will be your permanent address and this may affect your insurance premium. Many universities actively discourage students from bringing their cars because of the impact on congestion and parking, what’s the policy at your uni?
Is having a car at uni simply a hassle you can do without? Yes, it might make you very popular, but do you really want to be the one who’s always running people off to parties and concerts, it might just turn out to be a real pain in the neck being the only one with a car. And then of course there are those unexpected garage bills and the possibility of damage to your car. You can find a really useful guide to the pros and cons of taking a car to university here.
So, what’s the alternative? If you can get your car off-road, you can apply for a Statutory Off-Road Notification known as SORN. You’ll get a refund on the remaining months of your tax and you’ll be able to cancel your insurance. That means that you could be about £2,000 better off. It does mean that you have to have somewhere to keep the car off-road and it does mean that you won’t get the driving practice you might like.
A national Union of Students Railcard will get you 12% off an annual railcard and 20% off National Express Coaches. For getting to and from university a bike could turn out to be a healthy, quick option: no traffic jams, no parking, no bills. Maybe there will be times when you definitely need a car, in which case you could look at hire car options.
Ultimately, your decision is going to depend on your personal circumstances: how far you are from home, how often you want to go home, whether your university is in the city centre or the outskirts, where you’re going to be living etc. Do the sums first and then decide if your car will be an asset or a liability.