I'm considering moving back in with my parents over the summer to save money on rent. I would still be able to commute to campus at least once a week (4 hours each way, but I can nap on the ferry ride) to meet with my advisor. I'm working on my masters in math and I don't have any obligations in the summer that would require me to be on campus physically.

I asked my advisor and he said he is fine with this, but I am hesitant. On one hand, I would be able to save a good amount of money; on the other hand, I am unsure if this is a wise idea.

I'm curious to know your insights are on this. Thank you for any input!

Edit: I hadn't thought about some of the things you guys brought up and I really appreciate all the input! I have made up my mind and decided to move for the summer.

  • 3
    Why are you hesitant? Worried you'll slack off and spend all summer with your home town friends, or some other reason? Either way, you may be interested in reading the answers to How can I know if a 100% working-from-home job is for me? from Workplace.SE.
    – Anyon
    Mar 23 '19 at 1:25
  • I am hesitant because I think it is a good idea for others to see me working, but I don't know how important this is. Sorry, I should have included this in the question. I will take a look at your link. Thanks!
    – Kevin Hsu
    Mar 23 '19 at 1:31
  • How far along are you? If you are almost out the door and just writing your thesis, that is a different matter than if you are in the thick of research and trying to establish yourself in the department.
    – cag51
    Mar 23 '19 at 3:55
  • It will be the first summer of a two-year program. I am just about finished the first two semesters of coursework and I think I will be starting thesis work some time in the summer.
    – Kevin Hsu
    Mar 23 '19 at 4:13
  • 2
    As the question's currently phrased, it's a bit vague/open-ended. So more specifically, are you asking for what considerations someone in position should check on in order to inform their decision to work remotely or stay put?
    – Nat
    Mar 23 '19 at 5:44

You might consider these two parts of it separately:

  1. How will working from your parents' house impact your productivity?
  2. How will working from off-campus impact the relationships with, or perceptions of, your colleagues?

You mention #2 in the comments. Personally, I'm more inclined to consider #1. I have worked from home for most of the last 15 years or so. For me and the way my mind works, this is not ideal. I have found that I value spending time with a team, for the difficult-to-quantify dynamics that can lead to group brainstorming, bonding, etc. I can work on my own, but it can be isolating, and if I get "stuck" it can be difficult to get back to a healthier mental state.

Of course, you're not talking about living and working alone, you'd be with your parents. Everyone's family is different. For me, that would be a very difficult combination. I once stayed with my parents when traveling on business, but after the first time, I decided I need a hotel room when working in my parents' home town. They often would not fully understand my need to focus, and would have demands of their own on my time. Much better for me to spend a few days working and staying in a hotel, and then spend a few days visiting and staying with them once the work is done.

As for your colleagues, you have already gained the approval of your adviser, which seems like the most important part. Do you need the input and engagement of your peers to complete your work, or can you be fairly independent? If you will need their input, it might be best to talk with a few of them about it, and see what they think about collaborating virtually and/or occasionally. If you won't, you might not need to worry too much about what they think. Ultimately, you are responsible for establishing the conditions that help you do your own work, and you might do well to avoid letting others' perceptions influence your decisions too much.

Good luck!


I don't understand why this is an issue. You can do mathematics anywhere. The same is true of other fields as well, though maybe not all. All you need is your mind and possibly a bit of paper to write on. You can use a commute to develop ideas, or to rest your mind.

There is nothing, really, in the air near a university that makes thinking easier, though interaction with other people usually helps.

But, as a newcomer, assuming that is your position, you need feedback on your ideas. That can be done remotely, nowadays, though your proposed occasional meet ups will also be beneficial, provided you use them for that feedback.

Being seen has little value in mathematical development. Producing something worth reading will be more valuable in your career than just "being seen". If your advisor agrees, you can share your work at any time via the internet or email.

Note that some researchers carry on collaboration remotely for years, not just a few months.

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