Off-Campus Housing

Student housing and apartments

Many college students find the idea of living in an off-campus apartment very appealing, particularly after freshman year when they’re more than ready to leave the hectic dorm lifestyle behind.

Living off campus offers greater freedom to students, but it also demands greater responsibility. First, you have to actively search for a place to live rather than simply waiting for the college administration to assign you a room. This means checking bulletin boards and making appointments to view apartments. It also means that you’ll have to be prepared to sign a lease and honor its terms.

Common off-campus accommodations include:

  • Apartments (furnished and unfurnished)
  • Houses
  • Condominiums
  • Single rooms

Advantages and Disadvantages

There are many pros associated with off-campus living, such as:

  • Greater independence. For most students, getting an off-campus apartment represents the first time in their lives they’ve been completely responsible for themselves. The most important consequence of this is that there are a lot fewer rules. With no curfew and no R.A. looking over your shoulder, the possibility of getting into mischief rises exponentially.
  • More privacy. There are few experiences in the world like sharing a tiny dorm room with another student (imprisonment is one that probably qualifies). In an off-campus home, you’ll be able to have a bedroom all to yourself, which can be a big plus when you need to find a quiet place to study. Plus, no more communal bathrooms!
  • Saving money. If you manage your money properly and negotiate a good rent price, living off campus can be cheaper than living in a dorm. The initial cost may be higher (you’ll have to stock the apartment with furniture, food and cleaning supplies, and you may be required to pay first and last months’ rent), but in the long run, you can save money.

Some of the cons include:

  • Landlords. The best landlord is one that you forget even exists (except once a month when he or she deposits your rent check). If you are constantly dealing with your landlord, that’s probably a sign that things aren’t going smoothly with the apartment.
  • Distractions. There are distractions everywhere when you live in a dorm, and things don’t change much when you move into an apartment. There’s nothing that interrupts your study session quite like your roommate setting the kitchen on fire.
  • Travel. Depending on how far your apartment is from your school, you may spend a lot of time each day commuting. You may also feel isolated from the excitement of campus life.
  • More work. Instead of getting a meal plan, most students who live off campus choose to cook their own meals. This means shopping for groceries and planning a meal schedule. Many off-campus students are responsible for making sure monthly utility bills get paid, too.
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