The Pros and Cons of Living On And Off-Campus
Should you live off-campus or on-campus? Decisions, decisions.
Updated 14 Mar 2017
So you’ve decided on your course of choice, the ideal college and have mulled over all the minutiae in-between, the next big decision to make is accommodations – to live on or off-campus.
While some colleges may require you to live in the dorm room for a year, many others provide you with the option to live off-campus. As is with most cases, there are perks and downsides to both choices. Here’s what you need to know to help you decide.
While there are many different factors that separate both, one that stands out is the amount of quiet time and privacy you would have to yourself.
Unless you can afford the exorbitant prices for a single room, it’s likely you’ll be sharing your room with a roommate. Let’s not forget that you'll also be living with a bunch of other people, which means sharing other utilities like the bathroom.
With so many people milling about in one building, there’s bound to be lots of racketing going on. From your roommate gabbing loudly over the phone to your fellow dormmates down the hallway throwing parties, you may have a turbulent time trying to focus when studying.
Without a doubt, having your own personal space and privacy is one of the biggest perks of living off-campus. For one, your room serves as a “zen” place for you to retreat.
Having your own room means you won’t be sharing it with another roommate, sparing you the headache of dealing with problematic roommates and their bad habits.
An environment that grants you more privacy, comfort and without the pesky hindrances of your dormmates mean lesser distractions to study!
Living in such close proximity to the campus, getting to and fro classes will be a breeze. In most cases, your dorm is either within walking distance or free shuttle buses will be provided to get you around, so you have the luxury of waking up 15 minutes before your classes and still make it on time!
There are also facilities like the library, gym and launderette. Utilities like internet connection, water and electricity are also taken care of and rooms are typically furnished and air-conditioned, leaving little for you to worry about.
Living outside your campus meanwhile, means that it’s largely down to yourself when it comes to getting to college. But if you think parking spots, long commutes and traffic jams are all you need to be concerned about, think again!
You have to deal with your landlord, settle your payments on time and possibly also install amenities like internet and air-conditioning.
While you don’t have the sweet privilege of being under the wings of your college, it’s not all doom and gloom. More responsibilities and tasks also mean you’ll grow to be more independent. You will also learn important life skills that will be highly useful for your future (cooking, practising a good system to pay bills, housework, etc.).
Convenience comes with a heavy price, unfortunately, as the pricing of dorms can be very impractical. Depending on the geographical area of the campus, the price for accommodation can really be steep.
Though you can save money on transportation, it’s important to note also that you’ll likely fork out more on food as you won’t be allowed to cook in your room. Coupled with the high cost of student living, your expenses could skyrocket very quickly.
One benefit of living off-campus is that you have plenty of options on where to stay. With a little bit of research, you may find a place that offers both a sensible price and doesn’t require you to commute too far.
While you may have more bills to pay, living off-campus tends to be the more affordable alternative, even when you include other expenses like food and transportation into the equation. For example, you have the freedom to make your own meals if you want to save money and you can always store leftover food in the refrigerator.
#4. Social life
Living on-campus means you’re at the centre of your college community, so it’s easier to be more actively involved in all the happenings of college.
As you’ll be living in the same building as most of your friends and fellow dormmates, this helps you to cement stronger friendship bonds with them – especially helpful if you’re a first-year student or an introvert.
On the contrary, you’ll be more detached from a cohesive social community when you’re living away from the vicinity of your campus. While some of your fellow collegemates may be living in the same area as you, interaction with them may be limited due to different class schedules.
However, living off-campus is by no means lonely; you can invite your friends over to your place anytime. It’s also great to catch some private moments with your friends when you don’t have to worry about curfews or any rules.
From curfews to visitor limitations, another one of the drawbacks of living on-campus is that you’ll have to adhere to a lengthy list of rules that’s as long as the number of people who signed a change.org petition.
For example, you may be required to be back in your room by a certain time at night. Floors are also sometimes segregated by gender and you may also be restricted from having someone from the opposite sex in your room. There's also the matter of limited freedom when it comes to decorating your room as nailing and painting are strictly prohibited.
However, campus security enforces these rules for the safety of students. Hence, the stricter policies also mean on-campus houses are generally safer to live in than outside on your own.
Living outside the jurisdiction of your institution means that you’re not restricted to their rules and have more freedom to do what you want. No more sweating over how many visitors you can have nor do you need permission to throw a party.
The less restrictive environment may also translate to a more enjoyable and less stressful place – after all, no one likes being micromanaged and feeling like their liberty is openly oppressed.
Though accessing facilities and amenities is much more seamless, the same familiar environment could mean that things can get boring pretty quickly, which may prompt you to ponder if the grass is greener on the other side.
For instance, the lack of variety means that you’re down to a few selections when it comes to both food and entertainment. For convenience sake, you may tend to eat at the cafeteria (which isn’t always the most affordable) more often, despite growing sick of the same food on the menu.
In comparison, living off-campus is a breath of fresh air. There’s more injection of life in the surrounding environment, which is great if you want to de-stress from all the pressure.
Want to catch the what’s cooking in the world of cinema or shop? No problem, you have a stupendous list of malls to choose from that will make you more excited than a kid on Christmas.
So which is better?
While there are many perks on both sides of the coin, there are plenty of drawbacks as well. Just like deciding on what to study, there is no right or wrong answer.
A good way to make your decision is to ask yourself questions: Is having your own personal space a deal breaker? Do you mind sharing your room with others? Are you willing to spend a longer time to commute to college? And most importantly, is cost a big factor for you?
By answering your own questions, the answers will eventually become clearer in helping you to decide.