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On-Campus Living vs. Off-Campus Living in College

Deciding whether to live on-campus or off-campus in college is an important and stressful decision. There are many factors for each choice that are beneficial, yet each still has cons. If you are a college student with this question lingering over your head, below are some pointers that may help you make your final decision on your upcoming college living situation.

Pros: On-Campus Living

On-campus living can be super beneficial and reasonable for many students. First off, the most significant aspect of living on-campus is proximity. Even if you are at a large university, living on campus still puts you at an advantage when it comes to being close to campus. You are able to walk to classes or campus activities right from your room and not have to worry about finding a parking spot. On top of this, if you live on campus, a car is not necessary to get to class. Although many students prefer to have their cars on campus for personal reasons, you can avoid the heavy parking fees and expensive passes if you do not have access to a car at your university. 

Living on-campus can give you a sense of community. Whether you are going to live in a dorm, suite or apartment, you are likely to be around many other students of your university. Here, you can meet new people, make new friends, or even do activities set up by residential life with your neighbor. 

On-campus housing is also typically partially furnished. This is definitely something to take into consideration when planning your upcoming living arrangements. Items such as bed frames, dressers, and even certain appliances are usually included depending on which on campus housing arrangement you are granted by the university. This addition greatly reduces financial and moving stress. 

Lastly, a major pro to living on-campus is access to a meal plan. Although meal plans tend to be expensive, you are granted access to all dining halls at all hours of operation. You are not limited to the amount of food eaten nor times entered at the dining halls. This is a valid reason to remain living on-campus, especially if you do not like to cook at all. 

Cons: On-campus living

Although living on-campus provides many benefits to students, there are some downsides as well. First off, privacy can be difficult to have when living on-campus. It is unlikely to have your own room when living on-campus, but it is possible. Aside from that, communal bathrooms are very prominent for on campus housing. Not having a private designated bathroom space may be difficult and uncomfortable for many. Also, at times you may be paired with random roommates, but this is at your own discretion. This may be a student’s preferred route, but some students may find it difficult to share a small living space with someone they are not familiar with.

On-campus living is also not accessible year round. Although many students go home for winter and summer break, there are still plenty of students who benefit from living near school during these times. If you are someone who prefers to have access to a living space near your university all year round, then considering off-campus housing may be more beneficial. 

On-campus living is also expensive. Usually room rates add up to be the same if not more than calculated total rent for off-campus housing options. One of the most important steps to this decision process is comparing the financial situation of each option.

Pros: Off-Campus Living

If you choose to live off-campus, then you will not have a meal plan with your university. However, many students consider this a good thing, as they prefer to cook their own meals or purchase food and groceries on their own terms. If you like to have a major choice in what you eat, living off-campus allows you to have the space and capability to have or cook any meals of your choice.

Living off-campus requires more personal choice. There is not a strict area nor type of housing that you are limited to choosing from, like if you were to when living on campus. Many students are able to choose from apartments, condos, houses, or even the option to commute from home when choosing to reside off-campus at college. You are also given the freedom to choose any of the available off-campus locations of where you apply to live, as well as who you choose to live with. Choosing your roommates may provide comfort and ease of living for many students. Living off-campus also gives you privacy as well. You are more likely to have your own room, but regardless you will have a designated space for only you and possible roommates. There are also places with many leasing options. You are given more choices of your lease term as opposed to the strict two semester school year allowed by on-campus housing.

You can also decorate or furnish your place as you please. Although there will be regulations in any signed leases, living off-campus still gives more freedom in terms of furnishing, appliances, and decorating than allowed for on-campus housing. 

Living off-campus helps you gain a major sense of responsibility. Here, you are typically responsible for paying rent and utilities on time, cleaning yourself, grocery shopping, etc. This may sound difficult at first, but having the capability to do all of these things on your own terms helps you become more organized and responsible. Off-campus living situations force you to have time management as well, as you need to balance daily tasks as stated above, schoolwork, and commuting to school. However, this lifestyle is very important to start early on, as it will benefit you greatly to have these skills after college.

Cons: Off-campus Living

If you live off-campus, you most likely need a car. Having access to your own car at school is difficult and not attainable for every student. Also, parking your car on campus is very expensive and unpredictable at times as well. If you do not have a car, carpooling is a great option, but is not always a consistent option.

Cooking and grocery shopping can be a downside to many students. If you strongly dislike making or purchasing your own meals and prefer the dining hall system, then living on-campus should be a major consideration. 

At times, off-campus housing can be very expensive as well. While the on-campus housing rate is incorporated into your university fee bill, off-campus housing is not, as it is unaffiliated with the university. Making monthly rent and utility payments may not be the best financial option for students, but living off-campus typically involves such. 

There is no better option because it is all about self preference. However, if you are a student in the midst of this decision-making process, definitely consider all of the pros and cons above, and whichever will be best for your happiest and healthiest college experience!

Natalie is a Senior at the University of Connecticut studying Marketing with a concentration in Digital Marketing and Data Analytics. Even if she is running, cycling, or reading a book you can always find her listening to classic rock records.