What to Know About Moving from a Dorm to an Apartment

By Victoria Robertson on April 15, 2018

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As a student, housing decisions can be some of the more stressful choices you will have to make. Whether you choose to stay in a dorm or rent an apartment, the costs can be high and the responsibilities higher.

So what happens when you’re used to living in a dorm and need to transition into apartment life?

The two styles of student housing have similarities, but their differences are vast. For that reason, here are the six things you need to know about moving from a dorm to an apartment.

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1. Responsibility increases
In a dorm, while you do take on more responsibility than you likely had living at home, a lot is taken care of for you by your housing complex. However, in an apartment, this responsibility falls on you.

Apartment responsibilities can include (but are not limited to) ensuring your monthly rent is on time, setting up and paying for utilities, submitting maintenance requests, financial responsibilities, etc.

In a dorm, all solutions are pretty much within arms reach. In an apartment, these solutions require more work on your end. Again, there isn’t a huge discrepancy here, but enough of one that you need to consider whether or not you can stay organized enough to take on that additional responsibility.

2. Costs can increase

Living costs from a dorm to an apartment can significantly increase. While housing is a lump sum (in most cases), apartments require monthly rent as well as utilities. In most cases, this will increase your overall spending.

This is certainly something to look at from a financial perspective prior to making any moves. For some, the cost of an apartment isn’t feasible, and for others, the cost is so similar it makes no difference.

Either way, consider the costs of your monthly living fees as well as any additional fees that may be necessary (e.g. food, furnishings, cable).

3. Health considerations

This isn’t typically at the top of a student’s list of concerns when considering an apartment, but it’s one that should be. When you’re living in a dorm, healthy options are all around you, whether it’s the gym or healthy food items at meals.

In an apartment, these are things you will have to actively seek out. You buy your own food (and healthier foods can be more costly) and most complexes don’t have gym equipment.

While you don’t need to be a health nut by any means, it’s important to have healthy options available to you, so if you aren’t the type of person to actively seek that out, it’s something to keep in the back of your mind.

4. Roommate decisions

When picking roommates, dorms have the bonus of not relying too much on any one person. Everyone is responsible for themselves and the only concern is really whether or not you get along.

In an apartment, you need to consider the financial implications as well. Do you have someone that’s reliable? If not, their rent could potentially become your problem. Are they going to contribute to utilities? Will they drive up the cost?

There are living conversations that need to be had with all potential roommates, as these items could negatively impact your experience. So when picking a roommate for an apartment, be careful in the decisions you make.

5. Lack of security

In dorms, there is security everywhere. Many have a guard or other security system keeping those off the premises that don’t belong. In an apartment, you don’t have this luxury.

Instead, you need to make sure your apartment is always locked up and be responsible for your own safety. While this is again not a top concern for most students, it should be a consideration.

6. Terms of living

Finally, when it comes to the terms of living, in a dorm, you are there for the school year (or semester) and that’s it. In an apartment, you may only be able to sign a one year lease, which means you have to pay for the apartment over the summer (or sublet it).

This is, again, an added cost and an added concern you wouldn’t have had to think about in living in a dorm.

Choosing between an apartment or a dorm can be stressful and overwhelming as a student, especially considering the fact that most students are new to the experience of living on your own.

For those of you familiar with dorm living but seeking that new experience in an apartment, familiarize yourself with these six things you need to know about making that transition.

Change isn’t easy, and can oftentimes be confusing, so hopefully, these six tips provide you with a good starting point to understanding just what a transition from dorm to apartment living entails.

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Victoria is a dedicated writer who graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently writes freelance pieces for various sites and works in Marketing for Myndbee Inc., promoting their current mobile app, Picpal.

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