The Ups & Downs of Living Off-Campus at UMass

This is my junior year, and my roommate and I are the lessees of a cozy apartment in downtown Amherst. We are both very much city girls who love the hustle and bustle, and in the Pioneer Valley, living in Amherst Town Center is the closest we will be to fulfilling that need. There are so many things going on in town that I would have never taken note of if I was not living off-campus.

One of the immediate differences that I noticed between the dorms and my apartment (and quickly took advantage of) was the candle policy. Candles are prohibited in dorms, but my apartment now resembles a mini Bath & Body Works based off of smell alone. Another huge difference that I've noticed is the ability to cook and store food. The sense of contentment that comes from cooking your own meal is wonderful; it is one of the things that reminds me that, for all intents and purposes, I am an adult. 

If you’re a social butterfly like me, you may love having people over. This is something that is much easier in an apartment than in some cramped Z-room in Southwest. Along with the added independence is more of an ability to be distracted from school. Living away from the dorms means that one has to think about getting to class, and if you are not in possession of a car, the PVTA is usually your best bet. The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority is a maze in and of itself, but after a couple of weeks and some decent time spent on the bus apps and Google Maps, it begins to make a bit more sense. 

No one quite tells you the “true cost” of living off campus. Sure, you have to pay your rent every month, but there are also many costs that you forget to factor in, like food. So, do yourself a favor and always overestimate on the price you will pay when calculating the cost of living in an apartment or a house. On the flip side, if you’re looking for a part-time job, there are tons of places in town that hire students and it’s a lot easier to get to work if you’re living off-campus. 

With all of that said, living off campus is wonderful, and although some things are not as convenient as they were while living in the dorms, the freedom that comes with living off campus is simply fabulous and I would not trade it back. So long, Southwest!


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