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University Accommodations: Hall vs. Home – Which Is Cheaper?

Hall or home? Which option is truly cheaper?

Most students have two options in university, to stay in a hall or to stay at home. If you are currently deciding between the two, here is a cost comparison we have done to help you with your decision.

We look at 4 main factors in our calculations to compare the costs. The calculations are based on per semester stay (i.e. 18 weeks). We also use the Halls of Residences in NUS as our reference point when considering halls.

Our Assumptions:

#1 Accommodation

The accommodation cost for a hall is a fixed sum (inclusive of GST), based on a single room without air-conditioning.

The cost of your room at home is treated as a sunk cost because it would still be there whether or not you choose to stay at home. However, we take into account the cost of utilities you would use at home such as electricity, gas and water.

#2 Food

Breakfast and dinner are the meals provided in halls. This comes as a compulsory meal plan that serves mostly Asian food.

Food cost per day (Home):

Bread – $1.50

Coffee/tea – $1.00

Dinner – $6.00

Note that lunch is considered as a common cost that students usually settle in the school’s canteens.

#3 Transport

Many undergraduates that travel from home buy a Train Concession Pass that costs $45 a month and gives you unlimited travel on train rides. (Note: Bus Concession Pass – $52; Hybrid Concession Pass – $85)

Travelling to class when staying in hall costs nothing. Most universities provide free shuttle bus services on campus. The short distance between halls and faculty buildings allows students to take a quick walk from their rooms to their lesson venues.

#4 Miscellaneous

Hall tends to have more miscellaneous things to spend on such as laundry detergent, cleaning supplies and snacks. Students that stay in hall would also know of one major miscellaneous expense being………SUPPER! With the well-known stretch of stores next to Kent Ridge Bus Terminal that provide supper options ranging from Fei Fei Wanton Mee, to various cuisine options offered by Puteri Putera, Al-Amaans etc., a “jio” for supper is often difficult to resist. NTU students have “Ah Lian” Coffee Shop as their popular supper choice. Each supper typically averages out to be about $5.

In Summary (per semester):

Hall Home
Accommodation $1980 $300
Food $460 $765
Transport $0 $225
Miscellaneous $200 $0
Overall $2640 $1290


Verdict: It is cheaper to stay at home than in a hall.

So Why Do Students Choose To Stay In A Hall?

The reasons are largely non-monetary. Different people put different values to non-monetary costs. Some of these might be more valuable to some than to others.

#1 Convenience

Staying in hall gives you the luxury of waking up at 8.50am for your 9.00am lesson. One-hour break between lessons? No problem, you can go back to your room for a 45min nap.

#2 Social Life

In hall, you are part of a community. You have neighbours that are just footsteps away. You see each other at your worst (in the mornings when you look like an ugly slug in bed).

#3 Opportunities For Self-Discovery

Been doing sports all your life but want to unleash your inner dancing queen for once in your life? This is almost only possible in halls. Halls offer sports, dance, drama, culture, volunteering, expeditions abroad and more all in one venue. You’re free to try any activity and committee, even if you have no prior experience.

The opportunities for leadership roles are aplenty. Finance director? Logistics head? Programmes IC? Put your skills to good use. In hall, sometimes it’s not about who is more capable. Sometimes, it’s about who has more heart and dedication to do the job.

Ultimately, you are given this wonderful opportunity to discover more about yourself.

With all that being said, some might weigh these factors as more valuable than the $1400 you can save by staying at home. Some might think otherwise. Ultimately, it is up to you, the individual, to decide what suits you best.

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