A Guide to Living Off-Campus in CollegeOn November 8, 2021 by Hallie Howard
Life off-campus offers students a wealth of opportunities that might not be available to those in dorm rooms on the main campus grounds. Chasing after your educational goals and meeting the targets that you’ve set for yourself isn’t always easy when you’re away at college, but the environment that you call home can go a long way to help you achieve the things that you have set out to do in this all-important time in your life. There are some significant pros and cons to living both on and off-campus, but many students find the freedom of an apartment just beyond the reaches of the college boundary to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If you’re thinking of making the transition out of the dorm, then this guide is the perfect place for you.
Off-campus housing offers more flexibility.
Flexibility is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to life in an off-campus apartment. This is great for college seniors and others with a few years under their belts, but it can offer some unique benefits to a recent high school graduate as well. Speaking with a college counselor about the entirety of your application and the admission process is, of course, a great idea, but adding in a quick question or two about housing options is always worthwhile when visiting with a counselor or advisor.
Often, you’ll be steered away from apartment life in your first year, just out of ease of access. When living on campus, you don’t have to worry about any furniture (unlike the unfurnished or semi-furnished apartments that rental agencies advertise in abundance). Many schools don’t allow students to live off-campus until they’ve spent a year in the dorms.
For those living on campus, you’ll enjoy a smaller overall space but won’t have to manage any additional utility bills or consider adding rugs, desks, or other decorative and furnishing pieces to the home. However, this can provide a great template for building a home that perfectly suits your needs as a student with a multi-year lease on a property. Living in the same “address” for multiple years offers its own benefits, and taking couch dimensions, artwork, and other steps to make the space all your own can provide an excellent measure of stability for you and the important academic work that you do on a daily basis.
While the dorm room gives you easier access to the school itself, the ability to come and go as you please, invite friends over (or even throw the occasional party) is much freer in this living configuration. Making the decision here ultimately comes down to how you anticipate living your life as a student. Some will thrive in the structured environment of a dorm room, while others will seek out an apartment as early as possible in order to really put their stamp on the college experience.
Consider a property with easy access to your class layout.
One thing that remains essential, regardless of the living quarters that you choose, is the proximity of the place you call home to the amenities and locations that you frequent throughout the week. There are a million-and-one things to do when approaching the new year in school (from financial aid to booking an appointment with your counselor), but selecting a home that puts you close to the action should be a high priority. Many college campuses are very large, and students have to walk from place to place on a daily basis. Fortunately, the vast majority of class locations will be grouped together based on college designations within the university or theme. This means that you can identify the buildings that you’ll need to remain close to early on in your college career and make intelligent choices about location based on this knowledge.
College is an exciting time; make sure you choose wisely when selecting a place to call home.