Where to Live? On-Campus or Off-Campus

The beginning of the spring semester brings about a lot of decisions. Should you find a summer internship? Take summer classes? Transfer schools next semester? Study abroad? What about housing arrangements? Roommates? Living off-campus? Housing contract deadlines are quickly approaching and a decision has to be made. To help make your decision a little easier, try listing the pros and cons of living off-campus. The freedom of living off-campus can be enticing, but with that freedom comes a lot of responsibility. Are you ready for the big move off-campus?

Pros

Cons

·        Possibly cheaper

·         Freedom

·         Less moving

·         Learning experience

·         More privacy

·         Home

·       

          Separated

·         No Campus Police

·         Distance from campus

·         Utilities

·         Groceries

·         Furniture

·         Commute

·         Parking

 

The Price

For some students, it may actually be cheaper to live off campus. It depends on your school’s policy on meal plans, the size house or apartment you find, and the number of roommates you have. Living off campus gives you the flexibility to make and manage your own budget, instead of having a standard housing package.

Groceries and Furniture

Depending on your lifestyle, these can be the items that save you money or break the bank. Some houses may come furnished, but a lot will require that you provide your own furniture. This can be a major financial burden if you are on a tight budget. Also, you will be responsible for providing your own food. You won’t have the luxury of walking to the cafeteria if you forget to buy food, run out of money, or don’t feel like cooking.

Freedom

Moving off campus is taking another step into the adult world. You can make more decisions on your own and have more responsibilities. There are fewer guidelines on how you can decorate, who can visit and when, and what you can or cannot do. You won’t have Resident Assistants inspecting your dorm and setting rules for you to live by. You will still have a landlord that will set rules, but you will be able to make most decisions on your own.

No Campus Police

While you are living on campus, hopefully you won’t need the campus police. However, if you need them they are nearby. If you live off campus, you are losing that extra protection. Campus police spend their entire time helping students and patrolling the campus. Off-campus, you will have the city police, but they have a much larger area to protect and more problems to deal with. You won’t always have the immediate response or specialized attention that campus police can give to minor problems.

Less Moving

One perk of living off campus is that you won’t have to move out then move back in every year. If you renew your lease, you can stay where you are and eliminate the expenses of moving your stuff around and finding storage.

Learning Experience

Living in your own place during college can be a great learning experience without many risks attached. You learn how to pay bills, fix things around the house, and manage a budget before you are completely out on your own. College is a good time to learn these things while your parents are still supporting you (for some people) and can help you if you make a mistake. If you have housemates, they will also be around to help you remember to pay the bills or hold you accountable for the budget.

Utilities

Paying bills can be a great learning experience, but it is a huge responsibility. The utility companies will not be very forgiving if you forget to pay. Will your housemates be forgiving if they have to live a couple of days without electricity? Will you be forgiving if the cable is shut off? Another part of paying bills to consider is the burden it could place on your relationships with your housemates. If one of you always leave the lights on and the bill goes up, how will you handle it? Are you able to compromise? Are your housemates? If you already have a rocky relationship with your potential housemates, you may want to reconsider living off-campus.

More Privacy

While this may not be important to some people, you will have more privacy from your peers. I’m not saying you can do anything you want without word getting around, but you are more isolated than you were in the dorms. You can have a private conversation without your classmates hearing you through the walls, on the sidewalk, or in the hallway.

Separated

While privacy is a good thing, being separated from your peers can be a con of living off campus. You can’t just walk down the hall and knock on a friend’s door if you need help with the homework. Its more time and effort to hang out with your friends. You won’t meet the same people that would living on campus. While it may not be a huge problem, the isolation is something to consider.

Home

Even though this place will most likely not be where you end up spending the rest of your life, it is more of a home than the dorms. Since you will probably be living there for more than two semesters, you will have more time to decorate and personalize your space. Chances are you will probably grow more attached and feel more comfortable than in a dorm.

Distance from Campus, Commute, and Parking

If you are lucky, you may be able to score a house that is just off campus. If not, this creates a lot more cons to living off-campus. If you are within walking distance of the school, what will you do on stormy or extremely cold days? If you have a car this is less of a problem, but walking would save gas money and time spent on finding a parking space. If you are not within walking distance, you will need to find transportation. A few ways to consider are public transportation, your own car, a bike, or carpooling. However, you are only adding to your living expenses by commuting.

In conclusion, if you are responsible or ready to learn, off-campus housing may be for you. If you won’t remember deadlines or budget your expenses, you may want to stay on campus. There is nothing wrong with staying on campus for another year or two.