It is essential to start this article off with a disclaimer: I am very grateful to be from Dublin. I am incredibly aware of the privilege that living here affords me. The fact that I do not have to pay utterly extortionate accommodation costs is something I am immensely grateful for. To put it simply, I could not afford to attend Trinity if not for the fact that I grew up in Dublin and can remain living in my family home. However – logical and rational declarations aside – there is no denying that living at home has altered my college experience. Being from Dublin has simultaneously helped and hindered my college life. It has facilitated as much as it has forbidden.
I am 22 years old and have never lived away from home. My house’s geography means that I frequently pay €40 for taxis back to my house after nights out in town or race to catch the last available mode of public transport. When I receive a text proposing spontaneous plans for pints, I have to consider my commute. I weigh up whether it’s worth my while to spend almost an hour travelling into the city centre, hang around for maybe two drinks and then spend another hour getting home. Attending a society event in the evening requires a similar calculation – any situation that involves showing my face briefly will involve a not-so-brief return journey.
The social aspect of my circumstances aside, the nature of my arts degree means that my contact hours in college are limited. Two days during the week necessitate that I travel into college for one class. I spend 50 minutes travelling into the city centre, 50 minutes in a lecture hall and then another 50 minutes home. Thankfully, the Student Leap Card has made a significant difference to my monthly expenditure, but there is nothing that can be done to reduce the proportion of my day that I spend wrangling public transport. Just this week I found myself attempting to battle the phantom buses of Dublin city when the Luas I intended to take home was stopped and the entire system was suspended, leaving me with a return journey that exceeded two hours.
On more than one occasion I have mournfully watched the once-an-hour night bus sail past me, crammed with tired revellers. More nights out than I can count have concluded with at the very least a 30 minute walk from Camden Street, fruitlessly attempting to flag a taxi. Many a weeknight has seen me dash from a pub quiz with garbled apologies as I race for the last Brides Glen tram.
Even decisions surrounding going on Erasmus were impacted by being from Dublin. Studying abroad would have resulted in my having to pay accommodation costs. Remaining in Dublin meant remaining in my family home and incurring no additional rent or utility expenses. Erasmus, therefore, becomes something much harder to justify. My parents would have supported my independence and decision either way, but ultimately it was a choice that I had to consider in light of what was economically rational.
At this point, I am considering undertaking a postgraduate degree abroad, primarily because it can be achieved in a shorter timeframe than if I were to complete it here. There is also another bonus tied up in this possibility: I would get to move out! I will be 23 years old and the idea of having a place and space that is mine seems like something of a fictional unreality. I watch films set in universities and envy the depictions of cramped dorm rooms and roommate debacles.
For all my whimsical wishes, ultimately it doesn’t make financial sense for me to move out while I have the option to live at home. But, it should. It should not be the norm for an entire generation to be living at home and locked out of a housing market. Statistics released by the European Union show that, in Ireland, 68 per cent of adults in the 25-29 age bracket still live at home. If I do emigrate, it will not be merely a case of leaving the country I was born in but of leaving the bedroom I first grew up in and have now outgrown.
As with any decision in life, there will always be some form of opportunity cost: the thing that we must sacrifice in order to fund something else. My ability to live at home and attend Trinity might save me money, but it is a cost that seeps into many aspects of my college experience.