There comes a time in your college career when you have the choice between living on campus in university housing or moving off campus into your own apartment. There are significant advantages and disadvantages to each, and what you choose to do is ultimately a matter of what works best for your lifestyle. Here’s an overview of each type of housing.
Living in University Housing On Campus: The Advantages
The ultimate advantage of living in university housing is the convenience. You don’t have to get up earlier so you can drive to class every day—you can just roll out of bed and go. If you are heavily involved in activities or have an on-campus job in addition to your class schedule, it may be especially beneficial to live on campus. Another perk is not having to pay for utilities separately. University housing typically covers everything rolled up into one or two student bills during the year.
There’s something nice about not feeling secluded, which you definitely don’t feel when living in university housing. Having your peers around you can help ward off loneliness and lead to being more social, as many times there are events planned by the housing department or your individual resident assistant. University housing is also pretty safe, whereas an off-campus apartment may not be.
Living in university housing is typically more expensive than living in an apartment off campus. While it’s nice to have all expenses bundled up, it’s hard to see how much you’re really spending (and what you could be saving!) Furthermore, living on campus makes you feel less autonomous and, sometimes, like you’re still a child. If you live on dry campus, the no drinking rule can really be a drag. Your activities are also scrutinized by your resident assistant. Parties can be intervened, and you’ll have to deal with occasional random room visits.
Living in an Off-Campus Apartment: The Advantages
Living off campus means savings. You can find a place that fits your budget and control what you spend on utilities. It also means freedom. While you’re held accountable to your landlord, he or she wont be as heavily involved in your activities as a resident assistant. Having people over for gatherings and small parties that include alcohol isn’t a problem. You’ll likely have more space in your off-campus apartment and can feel much more autonomous.
The biggest disadvantage is that living off campus isn’t nearly as convenient. You’ll have to drive or walk farther to class everyday. Depending on where you live, you may or may not be around a lot of other college students. Depending on your preferences, this can be an advantage or disadvantage. You also don’t have the security in an off-campus apartment that you do living in university housing. No one will be checking your ID—or other people’s—as you enter the building after midnight.
It really comes down to what you’re looking for in your next living space. If convenience and safety are important, university housing is the way to go. If you’re looking to save and have the freedom to do as you please, consider living in an off-campus apartment.
Rachael Weiner: I’m a communications professional for a non-profit, which financially necessitates my status as an apartment dweller. Constantly “on-the-go,” I’ve resided in five different apartments across the United States over the past five years. Roommate issues, budgeting, organizing and handling problem neighbors are my specialty.