With the arrival of spring, another fresh crop of university graduates is ready to take on the world, but they’ll have to answer some tough life questions first.
Most important: where am I going to live after graduation?
Most students will have two options: move back home or find another place as the lease on their off-campus hoiusing is expiring. Finding another place to live, far away from parents may sound more appealing, but financial planner Don Eberley says that’s an easy way to fall into debt.
“Most students these days do have a fair amount of student debt. Others will graduate and immediately jump into the kind of lifestyle they’d like to live before necessarily having the income or savings to make it happen They end up getting very deeply into debt and that can cause trouble later on,” he says.
Student loans are the biggest burden on new graduates. Tuition fees have been rising every year, so that many students finish school with thousands of dollars in debt.
Carleton University student Mike Simpson understands the costs of university.
“University has taken a toll on my bank account and I’d like to replenish that supply and get a nice foundation going forward,” says Simpson.
CHEAP TO LIVE AT HOME
He is in his final year and plans to move back home in Delta, one hour away from Ottawa, after he graduates. He doesn’t have any student loan debts because his grandparents paid for most of his tuition. Despite being debt free, he is looking forward to moving back home, he says.
“Not having to buy food, not having to pay hydro, those are things when you take them out of the equation you realize how much money you have,” he says. “It would be good not to have all these things to worry about.”
Despite the many benefits of living at home, it is feasible to live on your own. Eberley says there are two major things needed to survive.
“They should have, first of all, the income level to be able to make debt repayments,” says Eberley. “They also want to make sure that their career is stable enough so that they’re not likely to lose their job in a time when they owe people money.”
SPLIT THE BILLS WITH A FRIEND
There are also some cost-cutting measures students can use when looking for a place to live. Living in an apartment instead of a house cuts down on utilities, which may be included in the rent. Also, living with roommates allows bills to be divided up and will save money. Eberley says cost cutting measures are good but it is most important to have foresight.
“Anything that lowers the cost can’t hurt. They just have to be realistic about it,” he says. “It’s possible to get into an engagement that looks good financially and then realize that it’s just not sustainable and you really want to get out six months later so you have to think very carefully about if it’s realistic or not.”
Kamal Ubhi is graduating in the summer from Carleton and he has his own place. Ubhi bought a condo two years ago with his savings and lives with his brother. He bought the condo because he knew he was staying in Ottawa long-term, he says.
Eberley also graduated from Carleton in 1989 and lived at home until he got married a few years later. He knows the temptations of moving away from home and he has advice for new graduates.
“Avoid making too many financial commitments during that period, keep your living expense reasonable, focus on finding what you enjoy doing and save some money.”