What You Need to Know About On- vs. Off-Campus Housing

So. You’re thinking about living off campus.

Ultimately only you can decide what works best for you and your lifestyle, but here are some pros and cons to get you thinking.

Pros of living on campus

  • Parking – Many spaces are available for your use across the residential campus.
  • Proximity – Since you’re close enough to walk or bike to classes, you don’t have to worry about finding street parking just to make it to class on time.
  • Meals – The dining courts are buffet style, which means you can always get enough to eat. Every day.
  • Homework help – Not that you can’t get homework help when you live off campus, but the chances of finding someone to help when you’re on campus are greater. And a quick trip to your TA’s office isn’t out of the question.
  • Recreation – Admittedly, most apartment complexes have at least a big screen TV or pool table in their clubhouses. But not all, so I’m leaving it on the pros list.
  • One bill – Instead of having to keep track of monthly rent, utilities and internet/cable, you just have the one housing bill every year.
  • Less cleaning – Your bathrooms are cleaned regularly. Nice not to have to worry about that, isn’t it? And no dishes!
  • Social life – It’s easier to make friends when you see people daily in close quarters. Feeling social? Leave your door open and see what happens. It’s that easy.
  • Leadership opportunities – You’ll have plenty of chances to get involved with your hall club.
  • Convenience – Everything you need is right here. If it costs more to live in the residence halls, it’s because you’re paying for time saved.

Cons of living on campus/Pros of living off campus

  • Rules of the hall – Any community must have expectations for the greater good of all.
  • Sharing space – Be it your room or bathroom, it’s always tough to share. (But you could always live in First Street Towers!)

Cons of living off campus

  • Calendar year contracts – You’ll be responsible for the apartment even when school is not in session.
  • Roommate conflicts – I hope you remembered to figure out who’s buying toilet paper and milk ahead of time. You’ll have to navigate problems without the help of your RA.
  • Unfurnished apartments – You might have to buy more furniture. And then move it out later.
  • More bills – As seen above, you’ll be paying for utilities and internet/cable in addition to your lease.
  • Commute – Will you take the bus? That’s fine, but you have to make sure you’re on time for their schedule. Will you drive? Good luck with parking.
  • Food – Groceries can cost a lot, and ramen or peanut butter and jelly gets really old really fast. And when would you make larger meals? It takes time.
  • You clean – I lucked out with a roommate who cleaned when she was stressed (often), but I hear that’s not usually the case.

In summary, living off campus might cost less in the long run, but what about food? And convenience? It seems to me like you’re paying for health (eating enough, eating good food) and time.

Consider these facts as well.

What haven’t I listed? What are your reasons for living on or off campus?

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