Should You Live Off-Campus?

When I was in high school and looking ahead to college I was positive that I wanted a small, tight-knit community that I could be a part of for four years.

For me, this experience would be centered on on-campus housing; I was looking for colleges that guaranteed housing for all four years because I thought that living off-campus would isolate me from the college community and negatively affect my college experience.

When I eventually got accepted to a small liberal arts school on the East coast, I was thrilled, but, after six months of college, I started to feel suffocated in what I considered to be a small, isolated community, and decided to transfer to a school in Chicago.

Even though the small liberal arts school wasn’t for me, not every part of my experience was negative. I had had a wonderful experience living in the dorms; my roommate ended up being one of my closest friends and I felt like I was in the middle of everything happening on campus.

Now that I was moving to a major city I was faced with the option of moving into the dorms or living off-campus in an apartment. I vacillated back and forth before deciding to move into an off-campus apartment.

Although this was my decision, I was initially worried about how living off-campus would shape my experience at a new school. For one, I was a transfer student who knew essentially no one, and I wouldn’t have the social help that dorm-life provided.

Although this was a major concern for me, I chose to stay out of the dorms because I wanted to try something new, living off-campus was actually cheaper and, although I loved my roommates my freshman year of college, I was excited at the prospect of not having to share a room.

Looking back now that I’m a senior, living off campus was definitely the right move for me. If you find yourself thinking about moving off campus, here are a few things to consider.

  • Your Finances. One of the most important things to consider when deciding on your living arrangement is your finances. Does it make sense financially for you to live off-campus? A lot of schools located in major cities have significant commuter populations; in fact many students commuting to city schools choose to actually live at home with their parents in order to save money. This might be the last thing you want to do but it is a viable option. The best thing to do when considering your options is to take a look at your university’s housing costs and your financial aid package, then compare that with how much you’d be paying in rent if you were to live off-campus.
  • Your Responsibilities. A lot of students envision their first independent living situation as synonymous with complete and total freedom, but this isn’t actually the case. While one of the main draws of living off-campus may be freedom from the rules and regulations of the dorms or your parents’ house, living on your own brings with it its own number of responsibilities. For one, you’ll now be faced with having to pay a monthly rent as well as utilities; you will also most-likely have to deal with a landlord and lease applications. If you do live by yourself off-campus you’ll have to be much more conscientious with your money.
  • Your Social Life. You don’t have to sacrifice your social life by living off-campus. Choosing to live with roommates is a great way to keep the cost of rent down and forge new friendships. Also be sure to remain involved in campus activities; join clubs, intramural sports teams or a sorority or fraternity. You get out of college what you put into it, no matter where you live.

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Brianna Low

Brianna Low

Brianna Low is a rising senior at DePaul University pursuing a double major in English and Spanish. Brianna enjoys reading, writing, and traveling. She currently works for DePaul's Art Department as a receptionist and hopes to one day work in a library. Brianna is happiest when surrounded by books.
Brianna Low

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