According to figures released by the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) this summer, a student living away from home can expect to spend at least €10,980 per year, while living at home is nearly €4,000 cheaper.
The Higher Education Authority (HEA) has said around 18 per cent of students are in “serious financial difficulty” and with the rising costs of housing and lack of student accommodation in Dublin many students now have no choice but to commute.
President of the Union of Students in Ireland, Laura Harmon, has said; “There is already growing evidence of students commuting daily to Dublin over extremely long distances. Some opt to spend multiple nights sleeping on couches or in hostels every week, others aren’t even able to attain that.”
31% of students in Ireland still live with their parents, according to the latest data from the HEA’s Eurostudent survey.
I am one of the 31%. I live at home, get up at 6am each morning and travel on a stuffy, overcrowded bus for two hours (on a good day) from Westmeath to Dublin and two hours home again. I hate it, I am constantly tired, I miss out on the whole college social life, and my parents still have to know where I am at all times. However, by the end of the week I am not broke, the simple fact is I can afford to commute but I can’t afford to live in Dublin.
My weekly commuter ticket amounts to €60 and give or take €20 a week on food and other necessities. That’s €80 a week or €320 a month, where as if I lived in Dublin I would be forking out at least €400 a month on accommodation alone and let’s not forget bills, a weekly food shop and transport costs on top of that. So for now I will suck it up and get on with it and as the guy beside me on the bus falls asleep on my shoulder I try to remind myself that it could be worse, I could have a huge student loan hanging over my head.
I am not the only one in this situation; Ellen, 20, from Offaly says “I chose to commute because it was too expensive to live up in Dublin and I couldn’t afford it. I spend 3 hours commuting each day. I mostly use the train but it is quite expensive, however it is still cheaper than paying rent. I dislike the early mornings and always having to plan ahead, like what time to leave and rushing for the bus or train home. I sometimes feel I can’t relax in college or call home for a coffee in the middle of the day like many of my friends do.”
Cathal, 21, from Westmeath says “finding a house this year was either too expensive or too far away from my college to not be worth my time moving up, so I commute to Dublin from Westmeath, I’d say it takes me about 3 and half hours a day, 5 days a week. The bus company I travel with sell multi journey tickets and they are most definitely cheaper than rent! I suppose I can’t really complain much, as this year has been much cheaper for me.
The only real negatives I have found about commuting to Dublin is having to get up early in the mornings and also the loss of your time is also rather annoying. I find that by the time I get home I only have a few hours to get college work done, have dinner and time to myself before I have to go to bed to get a decent night’s sleep. Although I do miss getting a lie in in the mornings, having to commute has made my attendance in college improve significantly. Rather than deciding to maybe skip that one class in the morning I’m pushing myself to get to class, because my mam would go mad if I stayed at home in bed.”
David, from Newtownmountkennedy Co. Wicklow, says “I’m far enough away from Dublin that it’s a pain to commute but at the same time I’m close enough for it to not be worth the money I’d have to pay on rent. I spend 2 hours in total commuting each day so it’s not bad really, 1 hour each way. I always get the bus. It’s only €7.40 for a return ticket so I save a fair bit commuting versus what I’d pay on rent. The only downside is how I’m forced to sleep on someone elses house if I decide to stay up in Dublin for a night out.”
Conor, from Kildare, actually likes his daily commute; ”I commute because I’m close to Dublin and would rather save than pay rent. This is the first year where I am earning enough at my job to pay rent, but would rather put it towards my savings. I spend a total of 2 hours 15 minutes commuting every day. I’m saving about €60 a week compared to paying average rent. I like commuting because it gives me time to read – something I don’t get to always do due to work constraints. I also enjoy the pleasure of travelling, there’s a certain level of solitude I enjoy, provided someone sitting next to me doesn’t start yapping! I only dislike the time constraints of a timetable, and that I have to prepare for my day without knowing the outlook, that’s why I always end up wearing a rain coat on a sunny day!”
Jane Cregan of Iarnród Éireann says “We have seen a large growth in a student numbers this year, particularly on Intercity Services. This could be due to some students commuting longer distances due to shortage of accommodation and also our great value fares for students.”
Photos: Amy Grehan