What It’s Like To Live Off-Campus For The First Time

In July, I found out I had lost on-campus housing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My school offered to house me in a hotel close to campus, but I found that idea to be isolating and lonely. It just wouldn’t be the same as living in an on-campus dorm. I wouldn’t get the experience of living with my friends and all the other perks of living on-campus. So, I decided to forgo my housing contract and live off-campus. This was a tough decision to make. I needed to find an apartment and a roommate, and it would be my first time truly living on my own. I’ve officially lived off-campus for almost three months now, and I’ve learned so much. If you’re thinking about going off-campus too, here’s what you should know.

Food Being without the on-campus meal plan is definitely a change. I don’t have the convenience of going to the Dining Hall for a meal anymore. Every week to two weeks, I set aside a grocery budget. I also set aside a budget for take-out, whether that’s a quick coffee run or a meal from a restaurant. And I always plan my meals ahead of time. Meal planning, even casually like I do, has helped me so much to make sure I eat balanced meals everyday. I always make dinner to last two to three days so on days where I have a lot of work or I’m just generally busy, I don’t have to worry about making dinner. Setting aside budgets and planning my meals for the week help greatly as I navigate being independent from campus.

Friends This fall semester, all of my close friends live on-campus. While I’m a short, barely-fifteen minute walk away from campus, seeing my friends is something I’ve had to make a priority. While living on-campus, it’s a little different. I used to walk down the hall to my friends’ dorm room or eat with them in the dining hall, or another dining center on-campus. Now that I live off-campus, it’s a lot harder to see my friends. Plans with friends are less spontaneous, and everything we do together feels like it needs to be an outing. It’s definitely harder to find times when we can see each other with our busy schedules and the distance between us. So, keeping in-person friendships alive needs more effort than it did when I lived on-campus. Luckily, a lot of my friends are willing to make the walk to come see me, and I’m so grateful for them.

Freedom Living off-campus definitely gives you a greater sense of freedom than living on-campus. There is this distinctive divide between my life on-campus and off-campus now. I often have to say to people the days and times I’ll be on-campus and make sure my schedule and other activities line up with when I’ll be on-campus and when I’ll be off-campus. It’s definitely tricky to balance the two, but it’s also nice to have a life separate to campus. My whole life is college and schoolwork, so coming home to a place that’s not a dorm room is quite enjoyable. Some days, I do miss being on-campus at all times, but so far, I don’t regret living off-campus whatsoever. It was the best decision I made for myself in terms of housing.

If you’re considering moving off-campus, especially as an Emerson student, these are some points you should consider. But I do have to say, I absolutely love living off-campus, and I don’t think I’ll be turning back to on-campus living anytime soon. While I boast about off-campus living all I want, what’s most important is that you make the best decision for you and your living situation.