In this post, I am going to list for you all of the best study places near me that I utilize regularly. They’re probably near you, too!
I’m sure you will get some good ideas from this list for when you’re struggling to find a spot to study!
You can scroll through the whole post, or browse based on the four categories. I have several comfortable and quiet study places within each category:
I have personally used every single one of these study places in my life and they’re all places within about a 30-minute drive of where I am right now.
That’s what makes these study spaces great. They’re nearby, convenient and nearly all free!
Changing up your study space can be great for re-starting your motivation and getting you into the right headspace. So, try out these study spaces and mix them up to see what works well for you.
Okay, let’s not waste time. Let’s get started with Number 1!
1. In Bed
What’s better than a nice cosy study session under your covers?
Well, according to many online, studying in bed is bad for you (Noooo!). Here’s their arguments:
- You will fall asleep instead of studying;
- Your body may stop associating bed with sleep;
- You may not be able to get to sleep at night time
I get their point, but hey … studying in bed really works for me.
I always write a to-do list for the next day right before I get in bed.
Then, I’ll often wake up and start studying before I even get out of bed!
I prefer studying in the morning and, bonus, I really like when I already have 3 or 4 of the hardest parts of my to-do list ticked off before I even get out of bed!
Do you want more defence of studying in bed?
The most well-known study on studying in bed seems to indicate studying in bed is okay, if that works for you!
Robert Gifford and Robert Sommer did a study in 1968 comparing the GPAs of students who study at their desks and students who study in bed. Here’s what they found:
“… There was no difference in the GPA’s of the two groups. The assumption that there is a single type of study environment optimal for all students appears unwarranted.”
Thanks, Gifford and Sommer … I’ll take that. And I’m going to keep studying under my blankets where it’s warm, cosy and comfortable.
2. Spare Bedroom
The second most common place I use to study is the spare bedroom in my home.
No one ever really uses the spare bedroom at my place. There’s a bunk bed in there and a desk. It’s the perfect little hideaway for studying.
My top reasons for studying in the spare bedroom are:
- It’s a private space in my own home
- No one ever enters the room
- I can story my study materials in there
- It’s a dedicated study space
Now I’ll admit, when we have visitors I have to pack it all up and get it all looking good for the visitors. But really, how often do you really have visitor?
Something really nice about studying in the spare bedroom is that it’s my space where I tell myself “I’m going in there to study. Nothing else.”
So, I tend to procrastinate less when I study in the spare bedroom.
3. Office Space
When I lived with my parents at college, I made the most of my dad’s office.
Whenever Dad wasn’t in his office, I’d head on in there for a valuable study session. There’s nothing better than a dedicated office space!
The office has perfectly positioned lights, a comfortable swivel chair and a screen at perfect eye height.
Office spaces are set up just for the right ergonomics. Ergonomics literally means the conditions for working efficiently.
An ergonomic office space is about getting the right:
- Chair for posture;
- Desk height;
- Screen brightness so your eyes don’t get tired;
- Lighting and temperature to sustain concentration.
And there’s nothing better than a dedicated office for all of those points.
4. Backyard Shed / Garage
My garage study space was a space I invented for myself in high school out of necessity.
I had three older sisters who would sing, squeal and banter all day long.
Heading downstairs to the garage was my way of escaping all that rabble.
I started out studying on a makeshift desk down there where all our old furniture was stacked up waiting to be turned to trash.
I learned the garage was both quiet and cool in summer.
So, I ended up cleaning up a corner of the garage and turning it into a really nice little study space.
I even placed some spare carpet on the floor underneath me!
So, if you have any spare space in your shed or garage, consider turning it into a makeshift office. If you don’t have a spare desk to put in there, check local buy and sell sites online.
You should be able to pick up an old desk for quite cheap.
5. Outdoor Seating Area
The next place I like to study is my back deck – or in Australia, we call it the Verandah.
There’s nothing nicer than sitting with my laptop at the outdoor seating area studying on a nice comfortable afternoon.
There’s a few really nice positives about this.
Here’s my top pros of studying on the back deck:
- Fresh air. Stale air makes you sleepy, so embrace the fresh breeze while you type away on your laptop.
- Natural background noises. Where I grew up, there were many birds and rustling trees around that made for a nice tranquil ambiance while I studied.
Sometimes your home’s not the ideal study space.
If you live in a college dorm or in a house with college buddies, some of these options don’t work for you.
I lived in a dorm for 3 years and I know … it can be very noisy and distracting.
So, the next group of study spaces are ones I use when I need to get out of the house to save my sanity.
In Public Places / Town
6. A Café
The cafe is a huge game changer.
It doesn’t cost too much for a cup of coffee and it can really re-ignite your motivation to study.
Sometimes I’m just going crazy studying at home and I just need a new atmosphere. The café is perfect for that.
Plus, many cafes these days are designed to be welcoming to people coming in with a laptop to study in peace.
Some of the pros of studying in cafes include:
- The dull background chatter noise can be a comforting sound to keep you focused;
- There are minimal distractions;
- There’s other people studying nearby to give the café a study mood;
- There’s food and drink available whenever you need it;
- It’s a more laid back atmosphere than a library, which can sometimes feel stuffy
But, I’ve also studied in cafes and not liked it at all.
A bad study session in a cafe happens when:
- It’s too crowded. It might just be me, but if the café is too busy, I get the impression that I’m taking up valuable space and I shouldn’t linger too long.
- The people next to me are annoying. I like the dull chatter noise, but I can’t concentrate if the people next to me are being loud or talking about something obnoxious.
There are also some café etiquette rules you need to keep in mind.
I’ve picked up a few of the below ideas from Katherine Martinko’s post on a similar topic, so thanks Katherine for your engaging post on coffee shop etiquette!
Here’s my top etiquette tips:
- Check out the vibe. If there is complimentary wifi and there are plugs for charging your laptop, you’re probably good to go.
- If in doubt, ask. The people behind the counter will either say you’re welcome to sit there with your laptop or tell you about an alternative place to go. No harm in asking.
- Buy something. Cafes are private places of business and you’re taking up valuable real estate. I recommend buying one item at least every hour.
- Be inconspicuous. Don’t sit at the biggest table. Sit somewhere where you won’t take up too much room.
- Tip. If you want to build a good relationship with your favourite café, tip a dollar (or pound, or Euro) per drink even if you’re outside of North America.
- Know when to Leave. I usually leave when I need to go to the bathroom, the place gets packed out, or if it’s been about 2 ½ hours. That’s a long time to be taking up valuable real estate.
7. The Local Library
The sacred local library! A dying out treasure that every town should embrace.
I am in LOVE with my local library.
I currently live in the Rockies in Canada, and my library looks out at the most magnificent mountain peaks.
What a luxurious place to study!
The sad thing is that not many people use their public library.
The library a great free place to go to study because it:
- Has free, fast internet;
- Is a really nice quiet place to study in peace;
- Has many books, printers, scanners, computers and other resources to use;
- Has a good study atmosphere
That last point is my favorite.
When I’m surrounded by other people who are studying it motivates me to study more. It’s something about that quiet, focused atmosphere that makes me more likely to focus and less likely to be distracted!
When my internet cut out for a week, McDonald’s was a life saver.
When you’re a long way from a library and need fast, reliable Wifi after 5pm, often this is the best option for you.
I’ll admit, I actually parked my car in the McDonald’s parking lot and just sat in my car doing all the internet tasks I needed to do.
But, you might notice an increasing amount of people in McDonald’s having a coffee and working on their computer.
It’s cheap, there’s usually a ton of seating, and the staff seem to be happy to leave you alone to do your work.
Other fast food chains that are increasingly study friendly whose Wifi you can piggyback off include Tim Horton’s, A&W, KFC or really any large chain store like this.
9. Local Wifi Hotspot
My town recently installed Wifi on all the main streets and parks. It’s part of their agenda to be a forward-thinking, progressive town for college students and beyond to always be connected.
Have a go at googling your town’s name and ‘Wifi hotspot’ and see what comes up.
You’ll be surprised the amount of places around town where there’s just free Wifi provided by businesses, internet companies or the local council itself.
10. A Friend’s House
Social studying can be really good for you as a learner. Here’s a few reasons why:
Firstly, when you talk through your study notes with friends, share your ideas and generally chat about coursework you can learn a whole lot.
Talking to others helps you see their perspectives and can increase your understanding of topics.
If you’ve got a friend who is a dedicated, hard-working studier they might also be able to motivate you to study harder and longer.
I often recommend to my students that they compare lecture notes with one another to make sure you didn’t miss anything important, so this can be a good place to start for your first study session with your friend.
Secondly, organizing a dedicated study time can help you prepare for a good strong study session. Plan a few days in advance and mentally prepare yourself for a full-on 2 hours of dedicated study.
Make sure you bring snacks to share with your friend!
11. At the Park
There’s nothing like reading in the park on a beautiful summer day.
Gather together your reading materials, a highlighter and pen, snacks, sunglasses and a picnic rug and head out to your favorite park!
Studying at the park doesn’t seem to work when you want to use your laptop, though. The glare on the screen just seems to be too much and you end up squinting all day long.
But, if you’re reading, writing or using flashcards to study, the park is an awesome option.
If you’re with friends, bring a frisbee and alternate between 30 minutes of studying and 15 minutes of having a play. We call this the Pomodoro technique, which is really useful for improving your study efficiency.
At University / College
12. The University Library
The university library has some benefits that the local town library doesn’t:
- University libraries tend to be a lot bigger than town libraries. That means there’s a lot more little nooks and crannies for you to find to hide away and study. Have a look around and get a feel for which parts of the library have good lighting, are quiet spaces, and are close to the books you’re going to need.
- There are a ton more resources in the university library than your town library that are perfect for you. The books at university libraries are dedicated to helping university students. You’ll find books on your topic that you can grab from the shelf, but also eBooks, rentable laptops and iPads, and much more!
- University Librarians. University librarians are specially trained to help you to study and write more effectively. If you’re ever stuck with your studies, simply go up to a university librarian and ask them for tips!
You paid a lot of fees to use your university library. Make the most of it.
13. Student Common Area
If you want to make a lot of noise, I don’t recommend the library.
Instead, use the student common area. Most universities have great student common areas with group tables for students to sit and study and chat.
You probably know your student common area as the place a lot of people hang out between classes. Next time you’re there, look around and you’re almost guaranteed to see people studying away on their laptops as well.
There’s usually a cafeteria in student common areas as well to grab a coffee or sandwich.
The student common is half way between the library and the café!
Because there are usually no strict noise rules for student common areas, it can also be a good place to go when you’re studying in a group.
14. Student Union Building
Your student union often has dedicated student spaces. These spaces are places where your teachers rarely go.
Sometimes it can feel like a great private zone for students only.
The student union building is also really helpful for getting advice on student loans, finding a job and getting support from Seniors who take on roles of student ambassadors.
I recommend going into your student union building and nosing about. You might find a really cosy, free and student-friendly environment which will become your newest secret spot to study.
15. Empty Classrooms
You might notice a lot of empty classrooms around the place at your university.
I recommend to my students to find an empty classroom for practicing group presentations. You’ll get a chance to practice using the whiteboard and projector to present your slides.
You will also get a feel for standing in front of a seminar room to deliver your presentation.
Of course, you can also use an empty classroom for simply studying in peace and quiet.
Here’s a few quick pointers for using empty classrooms:
- Check the doors of classrooms for their timetables. Well organized colleges tend to put timetables up to help show students when classes are expected to start in each room.
- Try to turn up at about 5 minutes past the hour. If there’s no class in there, then there’s a good chance there won’t be one for at least 55 minutes. This gives you a good amount of quiet time to study.
- Be ready to leave. If someone turns up and claims they’ve booked the room, you’ll need to pack your things and get going. That’s why maybe you should pre-book a study space instead.
16. A Pre-Booked Study Space
Most universities that I’ve worked for have a system for booking study spaces.
The biggest pro of this option is that you can stake your claim. If other students try to take the study space, you can claim it and kick them out.
You’re guaranteed a dedicated study space for a set amount of time. Make the most of it!
You usually don’t have to book far in advance because good booking systems are instantaneous. Check whether you can simply book a space 5 or 10 minutes in advance.
However, I find most bookable study spaces do book out very quickly. Therefore, I usually recommend to my students that they plan ahead and book their study space a few days in advance.
In fact, you might even be able to book a study space at the same time each week to get yourself into a great study routine.
17. University Lawn
Here’s your chance to become one of those cool, relaxed and gloriously happy college students you see glossy university magazines.
Sometimes they’re playing hackey sack, sometimes their chatting away with their friends, and yes: sometimes they’re studying.
Much like the public park, make sure you come prepared with a picnic blanket and study materials that you can read in the sun (i.e. no laptop screens that give too much glare!).
Another pro of studying on the university lawn is you’re likely to run into classmates who you can talk with about the topic your studying. Chances are, they’ll be busy studying the same thing!
Alternative Places to Study
18. While Going for a Walk
Reading a book isn’t the only way to study these days!
With the rise of text-to-talk technology and podcasting in education, you can take your studying with you on your walk.
To get your pdf readings read out loud to you, simply download a text-to-speech app from your app store and get started.
Or, go to your favourite podcast player and look around to see whether you can find podcasts of experts discussing the topic you need to study up on!
A great pro of studying via audio is you get to multitask, too. You’ll get your daily exercise in (or get walking the dog out of the way for the day) while also getting prepped for your next test!
19. In the Car
Just go for a drive to your favorite lookout spot!
Make the most of owning your own car by using it as your own portable study space.
Now, I get that it can be a little uncomfortable studying on a laptop in the front seat of your car, but feel free to grab your weekly readings or study materials and bring it with you.
Or, why not just jump on the hood of the car on a nice sunny day for a refreshing, warm and relaxing study session in a totally new location?
20. At your Parents’ Place
This one’s for readers who live on college campus or with their friends.
I often would head home from my dorm of a weekend to visit my parents. A really nice part about going home for the weekend is that you get to escape the chaos of your dorm.
This is why I’d always make a weekend study schedule and pack the study materials I need before going home for the weekend.
If you clear up your Saturday and Sunday to be free for studying and lock yourself away in your old bedroom, you’ll be well on your way to getting some serious studying done.
Heck, if you live within 10-30 minutes of your parents, you can even just pop home for an afternoon and tell your mum you just want some peace and quiet to study!
Your parents will feel great that you’re thinking about them and you like going home, and you might even get a free meal out of it!
21. At your Holiday Home / Cabin
This one’s for those of you who are lucky enough to have a holiday home.
I never was lucky enough to use this option, but I really wish I had the opportunity! If your parents have a ski cabin or a beach home, why not ask them for the keys for a weekend of intensive studying?
In fact, intense weekends of studying can be great for getting ahead.
Plus, you can give yourself a reward: study for 5 hours then go for a ski or swim in the afternoon.
How good is that!
There are a lot of different places where you can head to study.
Start by deciding if you want to study at home, in a public space or at university.
Then, make your decision from the list about to select the study space that fits for you.
Personally, I like to mix up my study spaces so that they’re always new and I don’t get bored of a study space. Sometimes I’ll be in one study place and I realize I’m getting distracted, so I simply pack my gear and move to a fresh study space where I will get motivated once again.
If you’re still struggling to study, check out my advice on:
- Scientific Strategies to Stop Procrastinating;
- How to study a REALLY Boring Subject; and
- How to study when you’re Tired
I’d actually love to hear some comments below if you think there’s any more points to add, and I’ll build this list even more!
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.