Where to Live

Is it better to live on or off campus?

One of the hardest questions that you will be faced with in college must be answered before you even set foot in your first lecture hall: should you live in an on-campus residence or an off-campus apartment? Unless you’re one of the few students who chooses to live at home during college and have your mom cook your meals and do your laundry (that must be nice), you’ll have to carefully consider both possibilities when making this decision. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it’s up to you to decide what’s right for you.

Most students choose to spend their first year or two of college in an on-campus residence and then move to an off-campus apartment for their final years of study. Some skip residence life altogether and move into an apartment in freshman year, while others can’t bear to ever leave the dorm and become real-life Van Wilders, sticking around for years.

When deciding where to live, be sure to consider the following:

  • Money. Your financial situation will play a major role in determining where you live. You have to make sure that you can afford rent, utilities such as electricity, Internet access and any other costs that may apply. Do you have all the furnishings needed for an off-campus apartment? At bare minimum, you will need a bed, a desk, a table and a chair to sit in.
  • Quality of life. Some colleges have residence buildings that are falling apart but are near to very nice housing. Others are the opposite. Don’t expect a room fit for royalty, but it’s nice to not have to live in a place with stains on the carpet and holes in the wall.
  • Happiness. Decide where you will be happiest. Do you crave the hectic social scene on campus, or you would prefer the quiet solitude of a basement apartment in a residential neighborhood on the other side of town?
  • Responsibility. Are you ready to handle the increased duties associated with living off campus? You will have to pay bills, cook and clean for yourself and solve any problem that may arise without the help of a trusty R.A.
  • Transportation. Figure out how you’ll get around. If you live off campus, will you commute by car, ride your bike or take the bus? Don’t forget to factor in work. How close will your place of residence be to your place of employment?

Don’t just jump at the first option that looks like a decent place to live. It’s worth the extra time and effort to find a place where you can truly be comfortable and happy. If a place looks like it meets your criteria but gives off a bad vibe, trust your gut and keep looking.

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