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Living Off Campus: Pros and Cons

The idea of going off to college might seem scary enough. But the thought of living off campus?

Even worse!

The truth is, there are plenty of advantages to living off campus and it could be a great option. But understandably, it isn’t always the right choice.

Many students choose to start their college experience living on campus in university residences. This can help them get the “full college experience.” Also, not having to worry about transportation to and from campus can be a great advantage.

Some parents appreciate the comfort of knowing their child is surrounded by other people and resources. Moving from home to their own place and starting university all at once might seem like too big a step.

While there are definite advantages to living on campus, let’s go over the pros and cons of off-campus housing. With these in mind, you can make an informed decision for which option might be right for you.

Advantages to living off-campus

1. You can stay all year

Some colleges close their on-campus residences during holidays and summers. That means anyone who lives there needs to clear out.

If you live off-campus, there’s no need to leave during breaks and holidays. On the other hand, if you’re required to sign a year-long lease for off-campus housing, you may have to sublet your place during the summer if you go home.

For students who live far away and can’t make it back home regularly for visits, the ability to stay in their off-campus residence can be very useful.

2. More space and privacy

You might luck out with a college that has spacious student residences, but quarters tend to be tight. When you live off-campus, chances are you’ll have more space than you would if you live on campus.

With that added space comes more privacy, freedom, and independence.

On that note, this added freedom and independence while living off-campus might be what scares some students or their parents.

For some students, those close quarters and lack of privacy are just what they’re looking for because they want the complete picture of college life.

But sleeping just a few feet from another person (often a total stranger at first) every night and sharing facilities with hundreds of other students isn’t for everyone.

For students who value peace and quiet (especially when it comes to getting their studying and homework done), an off-campus home might be the better choice.

3. Establishing independence

When a student rents a place off-campus rather than living in a dorm, they’re giving themselves the opportunity to experience many of the responsibilities that come with adulthood.

These include:

  1. Setting up utilities
  2. Managing a small household
  3. Paying bills
  4. Buying groceries and other household products
  5. Establishing and building credit

For students who are comfortable getting an added dose of real-world experience, the off-campus living could work well for them.

Maybe college is still a few years off for your child but you’re doing your research ahead of time. In the meantime, there are things you can do to help prepare younger children for college. In this post, I’ve outlined important ways high school freshmen can start preparing for college. 

Of course, we need to cover the cons to living off-campus, too.

Drawbacks to living off-campus

1. Distance

There are usually off-campus housing options available very close to college campuses.

But often, students will need to take public transportation or drive to school from their off-campus home.

This can equal an added cost for gas, transit passes, and other transportation costs.

2. Some students feel isolated

Living on campus in residence means you’re in the midst of campus life and the activities, events, and other factors that come hand in hand with it. Off-campus housing could leave some students feeling isolated and as though they’re missing out on campus life.

Off-campus housing could still mean living with other students, so you won’t miss out on all interactions with your schoolmates.

For some students, these interactions are enough.

Students who live off-campus can make an extra effort to attend school events and meet other students to minimize any isolation they might feel.

3. More responsibility

Going to university might be a big enough change and added responsibility for some students—the extra work of running and maintaining a household could be too much.

Off-campus housing comes with more responsibility, and these responsibilities could prove overwhelming for some students. On that same note, it might also take up too much valuable time that should otherwise be spent on school work.

Do you find yourself reading these and thinking, “that’s not a con?” That could be a telltale sign that off-campus living would be a good option for you.

What about the cost of living off-campus vs on campus?

You may have noticed the cost of living off-campus wasn’t included as either a pro or a con.

That’s because the cost of living on campus versus off-campus varies so much between schools, students, budgets, and other factors.

If you’re sharing off-campus housing with several roommates, it could turn out to cost less than living in a dorm. But in other cases, living in a dorm will end up costing less.

To help you determine what it might cost to live off-campus of your college, do your research into real estate in the area, spend time talking to other students, and be sure to calculate the added cost of things like utilities, transportation, and groceries.

If you’d like to learn more about securing funds for your child to go to college, be sure to have a look at the “Get In and Get Money” workshop. 

As you’ve probably noticed, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to off-campus housing or living on campus.

The answer will depend on things like a student’s personality, how much responsibility they’re ready for, and what kind of college experience they’re hoping to get.

Planning college campus visits are an incredibly important part of making this decision, too. Here’s how to make your visit to a college campus as stress-free as possible. 

You might consider living on campus for your first year to help give yourself a softer landing. After that, you could choose to live off-campus for the rest of your university experience. For many students, this proves to be the best of both worlds.

If you’re interested in one-on-one support and other resources to help you or your child get into (or pay) for college, click here.

If you enjoyed this article and you’d like to learn more about preparing for college, don’t miss these posts:

Get in and Get Money: 5 Tips for College-Bound Juniors
College Essay How-to: Who is someone you admire?
The 5 Key Things Students Should Do the Summer Before Senior Year

About This Blog

This blog is valued by busy parents of college-bound teens. The topics covered in these posts are mined from years of listening to parents talk about their dreams for their children’s education.

This blog is written from the heart… as it’s my passion and life calling!

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