Kirsty McLuckie: how to send student offspring packing

This week will see the majority of students starting or returning to university. About 25 per cent of our 18 year olds will be first-time enrollers, adding to the total of about 300,000 students in Scotland as a whole.For many it will be their first time away from home, but most will be living in student accommodation – sort of a halfway house between family life and living independently.

There is plenty of advice available on what to pack to take to halls but, having gone through it three times in the last five years, mine would be to keep things as simple as possible.

The great departure of child number one (Edinburgh) saw us lugging a huge TV up flights of stairs to her room in halls, only to take it back down again as it didn’t fit into her miniscule habitation.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Child number two (Stirling) arrived to find that every one of his four flatmates had brought almost identical coffee makers, sets of pans and sandwich toasters – all of which spent the first year stuffed under their beds, as their kitchen was well-equipped already.

Image: Adobe StockImage: Adobe Stock
Image: Adobe Stock

And the room of child number three (Glasgow) contained an unexpected double bed, which necessitated a quick trip to Ikea for new sheets and duvet covers as we had packed only single-bed linen.

The point is that minimalism is the key, and once they’ve packed up clothes, toiletries, laptops, and posters – vital to announce to your new friends just the sort of person you really are – there is little that isn’t readily available if needed.

This is easily evidenced by visiting charity shops around universities, which will be rich with the cast-off pickings of former students.

Cooking utensils can be bought as needed. In my experience, most young folk will be living off jazzed-up ramen for at least the first few weeks, and will be unlikely to require a specialist vegetable paring knife.

And while a clothes drying rack might be useful, carting an ironing board cross-country will not make it any more likely to be used.

In terms of paperwork, young folk should register to vote at their new address – important for their credit rating, even if they don’t intend to exercise their democratic right.

A TV license would be a good investment too. Even if they are just watching BBC programmes on their laptop, it is still necessary.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They may require their own Netflix account too, now that the streaming service does not allow sharing a family subscription from different addresses.

If in a private rented flat, student tenants should register for exemption from council tax the moment they move in.

If their departure leaves a one-person household at home, it is to be remembered that registering this with your local authority will provide a discount in council tax there too.

Seeing the offspring start uni is also a time when parents might start to think about repurposing kids’ rooms at home.

And while the luxury of a designer gym or a designated cinema room may give some comfort to those bereft of their children’s company, for empty-nesters thinking of taking the next step and downsizing, it might not be wise, financially.

Losing a bedroom is likely to lower the value of the property quite considerably – if viewers can’t easily envisage how to change it back.

Plus, come Christmas, the kids will be back, and you’ll need somewhere to put the four months’ worth of dirty laundry that will come with them.

- Kirsty McLuckie is property editor at The Scotsman