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    Community and socialization: student priorities during the cost-of-living crisis

    As the cost of living continues to rise, Sebastian Trujillo, gen Z account executive intern at Raptor, considers its effect on students and provides some food for thought around rebalancing their mental wellbeing.

    With the current crisis in the cost of living affecting consumers nationwide, we conducted insight with our student network to understand how the crisis is affecting students, alongside understanding the ways in which this has affected their consumption habits. While students are feeling the impacts of the cost-of-living crisis in areas such as food, bills and non-essential items, socialization and community take priority in student spend.

    Student priorities

    It’s not surprising that as students gain their first glimpse of independence when starting university, financial management becomes one of the first areas that they find overwhelming.

    Research shows that when students arrive at university, it’s easy for them to fall into a consumption cycle that is heavily influenced by the nightlife. In first year, student priorities center around socialization – with our insight showing that in term one, students tend to go ‘out-out’ four to five times a week. In second and third year, students exchange partying for relaxed nights at the pub as they focus more on their studies. Despite their choice of activity, socialization takes priority within student spending.

    Lower down the priority list for students, we have found that those who have brought their cars to university are starting to use them less due to the increase in petrol prices; they prefer to walk.

    Despite the escalation in living costs, students continue their spending habits on social activities to have the full student experience. As it is valued as one of the most important aspects of university life, it’s safe to say that enjoying themselves is their priority, no matter the effects on their financial situation.

    The stereotypical student

    In response to the cost-of-living crisis, and the mindset that students do not want to sacrifice their student experience, a lot of students resort to a part-time job to gain a secondary income to be able to fulfill their lifestyle.

    Student part-time jobs span the likes of brand ambassador work, hospitality, paid work placements and internships – with those that pay weekly appealing most. These roles provide stability to students, as they aim to keep up with the pressures of student life while maintaining their finances.

    A key pain point for student employment, however, was the impact that part-time work had on studies. Our insight noted that students often over-worked in order to fund their lifestyles, leading to a negative translation to their university grades. It is clear therefore that despite the stereotypical perception of a carefree student lifestyle, the cost-of-living crisis is having a clear impact on priorities.

    Effects on wellbeing

    The effects of the cost-of-living crisis are most predominant within student perspectives surrounding future prospects. As they begin to consider their finances in relation to their future, students’ anxieties center around their career and maintaining financial stability later in life. Our study found that the majority of students are now rethinking their career path and are more likely to choose a job that has a higher salary than a job in their field of study.

    While the cost-of-living crisis is affecting consumers nationwide, our research has found that students are not losing sleep over their financial situation. Students are prioritizing community and socialization as essential to their post-pandemic lifestyle – even when this requires them to sacrifice their studies through part-time employment in order to fund their social calendar. The largest anxiety that the cost-of-living crisis has created within student mentality centers around their fears of the post-university world. However, for now, students just want to have fun.

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