On vs. Off Campus: Which One is Better?

As I'm sitting here writing this, all I can think about is how much more money am I going to have to spend for dinner? I live in an off campus house and the problem here is that our oven/stove clock has not worked for two weeks. This may seem like a minor issue but we haven't been able to cook in the kitchen for two weeks! That means two whole weeks of buying food and spending money, not to mention our landlord has done nothing to fix the problem. So yes, I am extremely frustrated with the situation. 

This is what happens all too often if you live off campus in Charleston. I lived in a dorm my freshman and sophomore year and this year, my junior year, I decided it was time for a change. I definitely think there's pros and cons to living on campus and off campus. However in my experience living in both, I cannot decide which is better. So, I'm going to let you decide which one.

On Campus


This is a great option your freshman year because it helps you adjust to college life and you can meet a lot of people. Also, most students who live on campus also have a meal plan which means they don't have to cook. I had a meal plan my first two years and I liked going to the dining hall and seeing what options they had. However, I wasn't too crazy about the food on campus and found myself eating out a lot. If you live in a dorm, your RA will most likely have you and your roommate make a roommate contract which establishes important ground rules for living together. The dorm may also be cheaper than an off campus apartment but that's not always the case. Net to mention that you don't have to pay separate for utilities: they're included in your housing price. 


You don't get a lot of privacy if you live on campus and especially if you're sharing a room with another person. Also, in my experience at the College of Charleston, the majority of the dorms aren't worth the money ResLife sets. I've lived in two dorms that were dirty and nothing worked. My best advice is to submit as many work orders as you can, and hope that you don't get a room with black mold in the shower (that actually happened to me). Another con is that you have to sign people in and out and can only have a certain number of people at a time. This makes it hard if you and a lot of your friends want to hang out in your dorm.

Off Campus


This is the route that most students take when they reach upperclassman status, but that doesn't mean you necessarily have to. Most of the time you get your own room and can decorate it however you like. You don't have to worry about being up late studying with the light on if your roommate is sleeping, or playing music in the morning when you're getting ready. You also usually don't have to share a bathroom with a lot of girls and some rooms even have a private bathroom. If you're living off campus, you most likely will reduce your meal plan and buy groceries. This is great if you're like me and don't like the food at the dining halls and prefer doing your own cooking. Best of all, you can have as many people over as you want and whenever you want.


As you can tell by my issues with the kitchen clock, appliances not working and a landlord not fixing things is a huge con to living off campus. In my experience and my friends experiences who live off campus, most of the landlords downtown who cater to college students don't care about fixing things in the house. I can say without a doubt that at least once a month, I have to submit a maintenance request to my landlord. I've had everything to the kitchen ceiling leaking to squirrels in the attic. Yes, the landlord fixes the problems eventually but seems that in downtown Charleston, landlords care more about picking your pockets for rent than you do about ensuring that you live in liveable conditions. It's no secret that the houses downtown are old and there will always be things falling apart. But, what are you to do when your landlord charges you an insanely large amount of money for rent and you can't cook dinner for two weeks? What are you to do when the landlord won't answer your requests?

So there you have it, a guide to living on and off campus in Charleston. Again, I cannot say which option is better, I really think it depends on the living conditions. Just know this: if something is wrong in your dorm or apartment, speak up. Nothing will change unless you are firm about what you need.