Living off campus is the epitome of a blessing and a curse. I lived on campus for 3 years before moving into an apartment. While I have personally loved my experience, I know that isn’t the right choice for everybody. There’s a lot to consider when you’re on the fence about this topic. For instance, these pros and cons…
Pro: Lower cost
Whether you’re living with family or getting your own apartment, it can be cheaper than paying for campus housing. College is expensive, so if you can justify living off campus to save some money, do it.
Con: Fewer campus benefits
Meal plans, free Wi-Fi, generators during inclement weather, free textbooks – there are so many benefits to living on campus, it’s hard to name them all. Unfortunately, these plans do not extend to commuter students. So, while it may be cheaper to live off campus, having to pay for these things personally really adds up. It’s definitely a big thing to consider when contemplating living on or off campus.
Pro: Fewer distractions
Living in your own space allows for fewer distractions. Your time is your own; once you finish classes, you don’t have all the excitement of campus around you. Often times, you’ll be stressed to finish an important project or studying for an exam while everyone else in the dorms are having the time of their lives. It’s difficult to stay focused on your task at hand when all your neighbors sound like they’re practicing for their 15 minutes of fame on Punk’d. If you’re living off campus, that’s not a problem.
Con: Commute Time
Having a longer commute time can haunt you some mornings. Waking up 15 minutes before class but still making it on time is kind of impossible when you commute. I hate being late, so I always leave earlier than what’s needed, just to be sure I’ll make it on time. Traffic and slow drivers can turn a calm morning commute into the Indy 500 in no time. And don’t forget about parking! Some days you get princess parking, other days you get your steps in. Just something to keep in mind.
Pro: More privacy
Most often, living on campus means living with a roommate. Alone time is hard to come by, and, if that’s something you value, the dorm life may not be your first option. You also don’t have RA’s to respond to regarding your living habits. My biggest pet peeve in dorms were the bathrooms. Communal bathrooms will make you question your sanity. A shower curtain separates you from the twenty other people trying to use the bathroom, and privacy really becomes a thing of the past. I would rather be showering in my own bathroom.
Con: Disconnect from campus life
The privacy is amazing, but sometimes you feel secluded. Campus life is one of the best things about living on campus. CAB, housing, Campus Ministries, the fine arts, and so many other campus-based organizations host activities at least weekly. There’s always something fun and interesting to do when you’re on campus. Living farther away easily disconnects you from all these fun things.
This one is self-explanatory. Living on campus makes you desperately miss your pets (and they miss you too!). I am guilty of wanting to adopt every stray I pass, and I’ve made the impulsive decision of grabbing a cat up and taking him home (because he’s the CUTEST). Being able to have pets helps with stress and anxiety, and, let’s face it, they make the best study buddies.
Con: More personal responsibilities
Cleaning, grocery shopping, bills, all of these things ride on your shoulders when you live off campus. You obviously have responsibilities in the dorms, but your schoolwork tends to be your biggest responsibility at any given time. Living off campus, there are going to be times when there are so many things you have to do, school may be the last thing on your mind. Delegating and prioritizing these things becomes completely up to you, and it gets difficult sometimes.
My all-time favorite pro to living off campus is having a kitchen. Having home-cooked meals were really enough to make me want to live off campus after the first semester. You’re allowed a microwave and a mini fridge in the dorms, which doesn’t give you much room for creativity. Plus, your meal rotations become limited and the campus food gets old quick. Sometimes all you need in life is to cook your favorite meal, and everything else is obsolete. Also, you can bake cookies at 3am, and no one can tell you “no.” That’s a win in my book.
Con: Fewer study areas
Campus offers tons of areas – both outdoors and indoors – that are designated for quality study time. Once you get bored of one place, you have ten other options within walking distance that you can move to. But if you live off campus, your home will be your main study spot. The surroundings get really familiar and it’s hard to prioritize homework when the option to nap is literally a few steps away. It takes a good amount of self-control to make yourself do schoolwork when you’re in the place you’re most comfortable. It’s possible, just difficult.
Ultimately, the question of whether to live on campus or off boils down to how well you know yourself. Can you afford it financially? Can you afford it emotionally and socially? Can you afford it academically? That’s all dependent on who you are and what you’re willing to do. Take some time to weigh the options and maybe ask your parents or friends for their input. And don’t worry if you decide something and then, once you’re in it, want to change your mind – that’s totally okay! There isn’t one right answer to this question, but hopefully these pros and cons gave you a good springboard to start brainstorming the best choice for you.