|Just because you're going to university does not mean you have to live in an on-campus dorm or commute from your current residence. There's also the choice of off-campus housing, which some people may prefer.
However, as with anything in life, there are pros to living off-campus and cons that may make dorm life seem more desirable. Consider both when making the decision about where you will live while attending school.
Make a pros and cons list
To help you decide whether you plan to live in a dorm while at university or whether you want to experience off-campus housing, make a pros and cons list to assist in the decision making process.
It may sound corny, but it's a helpful tool when it comes time to put things into perspective.
Pros of off-campus housing
- May be cheaper in the long run - with the high cost of living in a dorm and meal plan (which is sometimes required for freshman) it may actually be more cost-effective to live outside of campus; make a budget to see which is the cheaper option
- There are less restrictions - sure there will be some rules put in place by your landlord, but on the whole there will be less rules and restrictions to follow when it comes to living off-campus
- You can cook - unlike inside a dorm, by choosing to rent a home or apartment, you have the ability to cook to your heart's desire whenever you want
- There's more privacy - even if you do have a roommate in your off-campus home, there will still be more privacy than you could ever hope to get in a busy residence hall at university, which could definitely help with your homework and studying habits
- Getting ready is easier - nothing is more painful about living in a dorm than dealing with a communal bathroom, which you will not have to worry about as much if you choose the off-campus way of life
- More freedom - when you live outside of university there is more freedom and less bans on belongings, giving you the ability to have friends stay overnight, live with your pets (if your landlord allows it) and decorate as you please
- You will build a rental history - when it comes time to enter the "real world" you'll appreciate having an established past rental history
Cons of off-campus housing
Ultimately, whatever your decision, choose the living situation that works best for you. Depending on the distance you travelled, your university move may even be tax deductible, regardless of whether you choose to live on or off-campus.
- More bills to pay - you won't pay for water and electric while dorming (you pay all that in your housing costs) but when renting an apartment or a house off-campus, you will be expected to pay your utility bills on top of your monthly rent
- More chores - unlike your one tiny dorm room, there will be several rooms to take care of inside your off-campus home as well as more chores and errands to worry about
- You're farther away - it will take longer to get to class and use on campus amenities like the computer lab, library, gym, etc., and it will be more difficult to get together for group projects and run to your room to grab a bite or a nap between classes
- No access to the dining hall - unless you pay for a meal plan separately, living off campus will not give you access to the constant buffet of food that is the university dining hall
- Harder to make friends - since a lot of friendships are forged inside a dorm or residence hall, friend-making can really only take place during or between classes, which can often be harder when the focus is on learning; avoid this by dorming for at least your first year
- Not as part of the community - in this same vein, you will be more distanced from the university community and the goings-on of on-campus life
- Requires better budgeting - because you owe bills more regularly (not to mention that dreaded security deposit) you will need to learn how to budget yourself