Although the start of the fall semester is seemingly light years away, now is the time to at least start thinking about what your living situation for August will be. Should you live on campus in a traditional dormitory with your fellow classmates? Or would you be better off on your own in an apartment?
This won’t shock you, but we at Apartment Guide are totally on board with off-campus living. But before you write us off, hear us out. We cited research last fall in which 69 percent of students declared that off-campus living is more affordable than the cost of room and board – especially when you’re splitting expenses with one or more roommates. But cost-efficiency isn’t the only benefit of living on your own while attending school.
Independence and freedom galore
Freshmen are often required to subject themselves to on-campus living, particularly at private institutions. But for upperclassmen, dorm life can seem quite juvenile with strict rules, curfews and cliche activities. You’re too mature for silly roommate meet and greet mixers, no? By living on your own like an adult, you’re free to do pretty much whatever you want, whenever you want.
More space, more privacy
Living in close quarters with a roommate five feet away at all times isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s unreal how some dorm rooms expect two people to live comfortably in a space not much larger than a walk-in closet. In an apartment, you can still live with a roommate while maintaining your own private space to let loose, even if it isn’t much larger than a dorm room. And the best part is that there’s no Resident Assistant (affectionately known as an “RA”) clocking your every move. Another benefit is that when friends or siblings come to visit, they won’t be forced to stay in a hotel. You can welcome them into your own place.
Top Cities for College Grads
Essential Items for Your College Apartment
Living in a Dorm vs. an Apartment
Must-Haves for Any Gen Y Apartment
Parents – Help Your Child Find a College Apartment
Noms at your discretion
One of the worst parts of dorm life is centered around meals. Some dorms don’t allow mini refrigerators, and the school’s cafeteria hours might be limited. So when you’re starving at 9 p.m. and the mess hall is already closed, you’ll probably have to shell out money (assuming you have any) on takeout. Even if the dining hall does have flexible hours, school food isn’t always the tastiest or healthiest. In your own place, you won’t be limited by strict cafeteria hours and less than stellar meals. Eat until your heart – and your stomach – are content!
Most schools don’t offer amazing amenities like on-site movie theaters, hot tubs and tanning beds. And if you prefer to live with a furry friend, forget about it. But if you search hard enough, you can probably find an apartment community that offers really outstanding and pet-friendly amenities that are included in your rent!
City life and neighborhood exposure
Living on-campus, it may not be easy to experience what the social scene around you is really like. And that’s even more true if you have to a curfew to adhere to. By living off-campus, you’ll get to experience city life for what it really is. You’ll even be in a better position to decide if this is where you’d like to live post-graduation. Another bonus is that, by getting to know your neighbors, you’ll have the inside scoop on internships, job openings and other opportunities available in the immediate area outside of school. You may even meet someone who works in the field you’re trying to break into!
Related article: Ways to Break the Ice with New Neighbors
When living on-campus, you’ll rarely have any say over who sleeps five feet away from you. And that can lead to a pretty miserable semester if you’re paired up with someone you’re not compatible with. In an apartment, you can either live the solo life or choose your own roommate wisely.
Related article: Should You Live Alone or With a Roommate?
Dorms are known for nonstop fun. But if your grades are important to you, the social happenings on-campus may not be in your best interest. Apartment life tends to be more peaceful, assuming you don’t have any rude roommates or neighbors. Think about the long-term effects. If your dorm’s party environment negatively affects your grades, that could ultimately affect your job prospects post-graduation. Don’t let the late night fun and games jeopardize your spot on the Dean’s List!
The real world
There’s no better way to prepare for the real world than to live on your own while in college. You’ll be solely responsible for budgeting, cooking and cleaning – you know, like a real grown up. It’ll also make the transition from college to adulthood much easier since you’re already halfway there.
On-campus vs. off-campus: what’s your preference?