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10 Unexpected Changes I Experienced When Moving Off-Campus

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

In my sophomore year of college, I ended up moving off campus and renting an apartment downtown. I was ecstatic to move off campus but was also nervous about all the changes it would entail.

Blinded by excitement, I was not prepared for all the changes I would face after moving downtown. Here’s a rundown of 10 unexpected changes I experienced when moving off campus.

Besties With the Bus

Fortunately, I ended up moving into an apartment next to a bus stop. If not for that bus stop, I would not be here today. That bus stop was the only reason I made my 9 a.m.

Normally, I would have to walk 20-30 minutes to get to class. Walking five minutes to the bus stop has indeed been a game change. However, if I miss the bus sometimes the next one will not come for 20 more minutes.

Additionally, sometimes the bus is full and I have to wait for two buses just to have to wait for a third with space to get on. I can definitely state that my dependency on public transportation was unexpected.

Meal Plan Blues

The meal plan freshmen year felt like a twisted reality. My concept of money was deeply altered by the mandatory meal plan.

Usually, the meal plan is expensive, and you end up saving money off-campus. My grocery bill is much lower, but the meal plan’s convenience was irreplaceable.

Whenever I am on campus and could go for lunch, I am reminded that lunch ends up being nine to thirteen dollars. Keep in mind this is with me trying to pick the more affordable options. What hurts the most is missing out on the student discount.

R.i.p meal plan, you have been dearly missed.

Personal Bathroom

The absolute best change moving off campus has been having my own bathroom. The communal bathrooms were not nearly as bad as I expected but nothing compares with my bathroom now.

The water pressure is much better and being able to keep all my personal items in the bathroom feels like a dream. I do not have to get in line for the sink anymore. I can use all the shelves available to me to store all my products.

Even being able to keep my shampoo and condition in the shower feels like a dream. My morning routine goes much smoother now.

Cheffing It Up

I do not claim to be a good cook, however, I definitely did not expect I would be cooking as much as I do now. All the fridge and freezer space makes it much easier to meal prep. My signature dish is savory crepes. I have perfected my recipe over the fall semester.

My mom used to joke about how I would starve without my meal plan. When my microwavable meal plans ran out it was a wake-up call. Her concerns were valid. I had to learn to cook from scratch.

Blaring Music

While quiet hours were never strictly enforced on campus, being so close to the dorms made me hyper-aware of how loud I was being. Honestly, the freedom to turn up my volume and not worry about disturbing my neighbors is such a relief.

An evening watching Netflix at a higher volume has been. a breathe of fresh air. The thin dorm walls will not be missed.

Ignorant Bliss on Towing

One of the morning frustrating topics on my list is parking issues. On-campus visitor parking is much easier and much closer. However, when my family comes to visit for a few hours we worry about the dreaded tow trucks coming while they are dropping stuff off.

Our nightmares came true when my roommate’s boyfriend was visiting out of town and left his car in the lot for a few hours and it was towed. This is your warning to have your visitors park their cars in the downtown lots. While it is much more inconvenient, it saves a lot of trouble down the road.


Regrettably, I never got into dorm decorating as much as other people. My creative vision felt halted by such limited space. With an apartment, I became much more interested in decorating than I ever would have expected.

I started coordinating our couch pillows and blankets. I made sure all our silverware and plates matched up. With my new found interior decorating hobby I have been able to give my living space a much more homey vibe.

The Space

Keep in mind that I live in a one-bedroom apartment with two other roommates and still feel like my space has quadrupled since the dorms. Being able to simply go into the other room if I want to watch a show, or study feels like such a privilege.

Before, I had to always wear AirPods or go to a separate study room in the building. The coordination was sometimes stressful and unavoidable. Now? I can simply take advantage of our abundant space and change locations.

Grocery Store Journey

Now, this may not be true for everyone but I know when I want to go to the grocery store it is a whole ordeal. I do not have a car on campus and if I want to go to the grocery store I have three options.

First, I can take the bus and pay just to have to haul all my grocery bags back home. Second, I can attempt to make-do with the mini marts nearby as my grocery store substitute for as long as possible.

Lastly and what happens usually, I convince my friends who do have cars that they should go grocery shopping and I should just so happen to go with them. Very convenient. It is quite the journey back home without the car and I do dread grocery shopping trips.

Refilling the Brita

This may be the most surprising of all the unexpected changes in my post-dorm life. I do not miss having to go down multiple flights of stairs to refill my Brita to then carry it back upstairs as it sloshes around and gets water on the floor.

I used to leave a trail behind me despite my best efforts. Sometimes someone would be filling up their Brita and the weight time was unbearable, especially since I lived in the un-renovated dorms with no air conditioning. The Brita was a necessity and this refilling process took up many hours of my time throughout my freshmen year.

While the off-campus lifestyle is not all that I expected I am great to have gotten the experience. I miss some things about living on campus and have grown to appreciate but have also found the benefit of moving out of a dorm.

If you are thinking about moving off campus just know it is a great experience but you will definitely miss some of the college dorm experience as you move out. Remember to make the best of wherever you are at take in the unique experiences of college.

I am a 3rd-year undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in economics at Penn State. I am very excited to be a part of Her Campus!