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Undergraduate Housing: On-Campus vs. Off-Campus

Whether you’ve loved or hated living on campus, having a home under the dome is certainly a unique part of the Notre Dame experience. If you’re an underclassmen, you may have to make a decision about whether or not you want to stay on campus or move off sometime soon. Here are a few things to consider.

Can you afford it?

I know it’s a drag to start with this question, but it’s really important. If your financial aid package is covering a significant portion of your housing, moving off-campus may have a big impact. It’s probably best to stay in the dorm if it’s going to create financial strain. That being said, there are a variety of housing options, so be sure to pursue different options. This list is by no means comprehensive, but contains many of the most popular options.

Notre Dame Apartments is the cheapest place for two people to live, at $370/person/month. Places like Clover Ridge ($600/person/month for two people) and Clover Village ($500 per person per month for two people) will probably be some of the cheapest options (but don’t forget about furnishing costs). There’s also University Edge if you don’t mind being a bit further out. That’s $695 each monthly for two people. Houses can also be a great value, but don’t forget that you will be paying all of your utilities (many apartments include some utilities). Usually they are between $400 and $600 per person monthly.

The next price range includes places like Irish Row ($758 per person per month for two people) and Irish Flats ($725 per person per month for two people). After that are the townhouses. Irish Crossings costs $862 per person monthly if you want to live in a four bedroom residence.  And of course there’s the Foundry which is the most expensive place to live, but you’re on Eddy Street!

Where do you want to be in relation to campus?

Location is a very important consideration. First things first, do you or will you have a car? If the answer is yes, the where is up to you. If you won’t have access to a vehicle, you’ll want to live somewhere within walking distance or on a bus route. Depending on how far you’re willing to walk, most housing is less than a mile from campus and within walking distance. University Edge would be the one notable exception, but there is a bus that you can take.

Don’t forget about feeding yourself. While the Foundry may be the closest to campus, it’s not right on top of Martin’s like Irish Row, Irish Flats, Clover Village, Clover Ridge and Irish Crossings. But if you have friends who will take you to the supermarket or if you just really love 7/11 and Chipotle you should be ok!

Do you want to have a pet?

If the “only non-fighting fish” rule in DuLac has been bringing you down on campus, moving off campus can give you the opportunity to finally have a real pet! Places like Clover Ridge and Clover Village allow pets. You can finally have that puppy you’ve always wanted or a ferret or a turtle or any other manner of cute fur balls! Houses generally allow pets too, but be sure to read your lease and always make sure your roommate or roommates are on board before you bring home an adorable critter.

Where are your friends planning to live?

While I’m the first to condone group-think, sometimes I do believe that it is necessary to take into account what my friends are doing. So ask around and see where your friends are planning to live.

If most of your close friends are staying on campus, moving off-campus may make you feel ostracized and cut off. I can say from experience that your on campus friends become much harder to see if you live off (especially if you don’t get a meal plan, which I didn’t and don’t regret).

However, if most of your friends are moving off-campus, moving into an apartment with them or with other friends can be great. Having a car makes seeing friends at different apartments easy and if they live in your complex, it’s usually just a quick dash outside or a few doors down.

Who do you want to live with?

If you want to live by yourself, you have three easy options: single on campus, single off-campus, or single apartment anywhere you’d like! Definitely the easiest option for choosing where to live, but living alone can definitely be lonely, so if you’re a social person, don’t forget to take that into account.

If you want to live with between one and three of your friends most apartment complexes and the townhouses have good options. This number of roommates also works really well on campus. Houses are another great place to live if you want to live with a bunch of people, especially if you would like more than three roommates, which most dorms and apartments can’t accommodate.

The last aspect of who you want to live with is the most important one. Do you want to live with your closest friends, do you want to live with your going-out friends, do you want to live with people in your major, do you want to live with your current or former roommate(s), or do you want to live with someone totally new?

Most people choose to live with friends they’re close to and normally it works out fairly well. The biggest mistake I’ve seen among my friends is watching them room with their best friends or their going out friends. Inevitably something seems to go wrong. If you need some space, don’t be afraid to live with someone new.

Last considerations?

Do whatever will make you happiest and make sure your parents are on board. You don’t want to fight with your parents over where you’re going to live. My parents were supportive when I wanted to get a single on campus and when that didn’t happen, they supported me moving to Irish Row. I’d never met my roommate (I was abroad and kind of scrambling after I missed the last single in BP), but she was a friend of a friend and this year has been fantastic. It’s great to get to know new people, especially if you’re willing to embrace it.

If you’re an underclassmen committed to moving off, don’t sign a lease too early. One, there will still be places available (as long as you’re not trying to get a 6 bedroom house). Two, your friend group will naturally evolve somewhat over time. You may grow closer with some friends than others or fall out with certain people and the worst thing you can do is get stuck living with someone you don’t like.

Also, do you like to cook? Or at the very least, can you cook? I’m not suggesting that you need to be a master chef, but you should be able to feed yourself. If cooking really isn’t your thing, living on campus (hello meal plan) or moving off with foodies who like to feed people is your best bet.

Finally, be realistic about what you can afford to spend and your work and sleep habits. Don’t live with a partier if you have a lot of work to do and if you’re a bit of a neat freak, steer clear of the slobs. Don’t live with someone who is loaded if you’re pinching pennies unless you know that they’ll respect your spending limits. Do what makes you happy and find people who will support you in that endeavor. Whether you decide to live on or off campus, enjoy every minute you have left at your home under the dome, you already know time passes too quickly.

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Maria Fahs

Notre Dame

Maria is finishing her Masters in English at Notre Dame. She has read many good books and several bad books, but she usually tries not to finish those. Her current favorites are: 1984, The Book Thief, The Tragedy Paper, Code Name Verity, Dr. Copernicus, I Am the Messenger, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and of course, Harry Potter. She is writing her second thesis on Harry Potter, exploring notions of authorship and reader agency in the digital age. She even managed to write her Capstone on British Children's Literature and designed her own Directed Readings Course on Notre Dame history during undergrad. Her favorite way to read is with a mug of tea and scented candles. When she doesn't have her nose stuck in a book, she can be found binging on the BBC (Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Merlin [RIP]). Her favorite color is purple, she studied abroad in London, and she enjoys being an amateur painter. She harbors a not-so-secret dream of one day writing a children's book, but until then, she is likely to be found reading them and writing letters whenever she gets a chance. She hopes to teach English or work in a university sharing her love of education.
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