4 Things to Consider for Living Off Campus

By Kaitlin Hurtado on January 20, 2017

For most, college is the first major step to gaining independence as a young adult by moving out of the family home for the first time. Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, your decision to live on campus or off campus can alter your college experience, for better or for worse. The decision to choose where to live is important and you should think things through with these four things in mind.

The Commute 

One of the biggest factors in deciding your living situation in college is figuring out the commute between your living space and your university. Having a car is invaluable — you can spend your breaks in between classes, make a quick lunch run off campus, and essentially have a mobile home at your disposal. However, commuting with a car has its negatives: the rising costs of parking permits, the struggle to get parking even with a permit, and having to maintain your car through all the travel (not to mention, paying to fuel your commute, however long it may be).

There are other methods of commuting to ease the load that driving your own car creates. Different buses and trains offer student discounts for commuters, such as the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA)’s University Pass for UC Irvine students. Students often create pages for their own universities to make it easier to find someone to carpool to school with and to lessen the burden of living off-campus.

One of the great perks of living on campus, if not the greatest, is the close proximity to campus that on-campus housing offers. For universities that have on-campus housing that isn’t necessarily on the main campus (such as UC Irvine’s ACC housing), campus shuttles are available to travel between housing, campus, and popular shopping and dining spots near campus.

Image via pixabay.com

The Financial Situation

Students often use finances to decide to live off campus or on campus. On-campus living is pricey — freshman dorming often comes in a package deal of an expensive meal plan — but it is the price of convenience that comes with dorming. In a dorm, you can usually roll out of bed and make it into lecture within 15 minutes, or slip on some shoes when you’re hungry and find your way to the dining hall for instant satisfaction.

On average, students at public universities can expect to pay $8,887 for dorming and students at private universities $10,089. Of course, these high prices include amenities like internet, electricity, and water. Utilities and dining aside, off-campus housing can be considerably cheaper, even more so when you add more roommates than you usually would have in a dorm to split rent costs. Rent could go down from over $1,000 a month to lower than $500 depending on the number of roommates in an apartment, and utility usage.

Image via Szyslak at the English language Wikipedia

The Responsibility 

While on-campus living gives you the freedom of not living with your parents, residents are still monitored by housing staff, such as Resident/Community Assistants (RAs/CAs). These people will monitor residents in the dorm setting, making sure everyone can adhere to housing guidelines.

Housing guidelines in on-campus housing will always be more heavily enforced than those in off-campus communities, including partying and quiet hours. If problems arise in a community, like issues between roommates or noise complaints during quiet hours, housing staff is available to assist with problems and aid residents in finding quick solutions.

Off-campus housing, however, will not have the extensive amount of resources that comes with dorming. If you have problems with roommates, like getting everyone to contribute to rent and utilities on time, it’s up to you to sort out. That being said, communication is key when it comes to living off campus with multiple other housemates. With dorming, each resident is responsible for paying their own individual rent. With off-campus housing, each person in the apartment/house is responsible for contributing their fair share of rent and utilities, making rent a joint effort.

The Community

On-campus housing provides you instant access to campus, including classes, extracurriculars, and various on-campus events. Instant access means you’ll tend to spend more time on campus, interacting with students and faculty and getting more of the “college experience.” You won’t have to worry about commuting between home and campus just to make it to a club event or have access to school libraries for late night studying.

Dorming gives you a chance to meet other students your age, making it easier to make friends and to keep them as you live in close proximity. It’s not impossible to make friends as a commuter student – it just requires more effort to make a commitment to come back to campus for something other than school.

Dorming provides a community of fellow students — a mix of loud throughout the quarter/semester and a quiet lull during finals/midterms — where everyone is typically similar in age. With off-campus housing, your neighbors are a wild card. If your housing is relatively close to campus, there’s a better chance for you to have neighbors the same age.

However, dorming isn’t for everybody. More often than not, there’s an event going on thrown by housing staff, or a party in a community near campus. Taking your chances by living further off campus gives a greater chance for a quiet neighborhood that others prefer over the busy scene on campus.

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