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College Housing Options Part 3

College Housing Options Part 3: Off-Campus (Read parts one and two)

After already discussing the pros and cons of living in a traditional-dorm and an on-campus apartment-style dorm, this week I’m going to give you the pros and cons of living off-campus.

Going into my third year of college, it was finally time to achieve a goal I’d had since freshman year: get an off-campus house! And finally, after a whole summer of searching, numerous house/apartment viewings, and the seemingly constant disappointment of other people getting the ones we wanted, on August 1st, three friends and I moved into our very own house (well kind of, it’s a big house broken up into apartments so not exactly what I wanted but, hey, it’s not a dorm).

And so, two months in, here is the advice that I have to give on the pros and cons of living off- campus:

Pro:

  • CHEAP! Oh my goodness, I was so over paying for those ridiculously expensive dorms! I did some math and for living in the Spring Garden Apartments for one academic year, “rent and utilities” was a total of over $700! That’s over double a month what I’m paying now living off-campus.

Con:

  • Now, a con that goes along with cheaper costs, is the fact that you have to stay on top of all your bills (rent, water, electric, internet, etc.), which can be difficult if you’ve never had to do something like that before. Besides staying on top of it all, you have to be able to afford it. And whether you use money from a refund check or you’re paying out of pocket, losing a few hundred dollars each month can be a hard hit (keeping a budget is not as easy as it looks).

Pro:

  • No “decorating restrictions” such as no tacks or tape on the walls, no candles, no hanging lights! No more! If you live in your own apartment or house off campus, no longer will there be any rules restricting you from decorating your home however you see fit (as long as it complies with the law/your apartment complex’s guidelines – which are typically more lenient than the university’s).  

Con:

  • Just like I mentioned in part two of this series with the apartment-style housing, finding people to live with can sometimes be a struggle. It becomes a little more serious when paying bills comes into the mix. Not only do you need to make sure that you can handle living with the people you’ve chosen, but you need to make sure they’re gonna be reliable with their part of the lease. Signing a lease is a legally-binding agreement. It’s serious business.  

Pro:

  • One of the most hated rules in dorm-life is the wretched quiet hours time. Living off-campus abolishes that rule and gives you more freedom to live your life the way you want it. Of course, you’ll always have neighbors, especially if you’re living in an off-campus apartment, that you need to be considerate of but no more RA’s pounding on your door with threats.  

Con:

  • For those of you who take walking home alone seriously – because we all know we shouldn’t walk alone at night and we’ve been told multiple times not to – when you live off campus, the safety escorts that the police department security offer are no longer available to you (kind of when they’re needed most, such as if you live near Tate St. or other surrounding areas that are not the safest at night).

Pro/Con:

  • And finally, for my last tip, a pro and a con: food. When you’re on campus, having some type of meal plan is mandatory. When you’re off campus though, you’re suddenly on your own. That opens up the door to channeling your inner-chef but it also means you have to pay for your own food all the time, which you will learn very fast is expensive. No more caf food; you’re gonna have to start learning how to cook something other than ramen.

Overall, amongst all these pros and cons and more, I am thoroughly enjoying this off-campus experience. I’ve been waiting for it for a long time and now that it’s finally here I love it. We’re all going to have to do it someday, so the sooner you do it, the sooner you’ll get the hang of it!

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