To live on-campus or off-campus for school this year: that is the question! There are plenty of things to consider: your savings, your studies, your social life…and your sanity. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average cost of room and board is around $9,000 per year, depending on which school you attend. Rent is even more variable, ranging from $2,700 per year in some areas all the way up to $18,000 in some major cities. So you can stand to gain or lose big time on the actual rent — but don’t forget about the hidden costs and “quality of life” factor! Here, we detail the pro’s and con’s for dorm life and apartment life so you can make the best choice for YOU.
On-Campus: Pros — School may not be a vacation, but this resort is all-inclusive. Your utilities, maintenance, food, and “rent” are all included in your room and board, making for one flat-fee no matter where you live. Cons — You’re also paying for things you may not need or want, like air-conditioning and campus security.
Off-Campus: Pros — You’ll have a greater choice in which amenities you pay for, and which you don’t, and in some cases might find a place for cheaper than room and board. Cons — Watch for the hidden costs: signing fees, cable/internet (which are typically included in a dorm room), and utilities.
On-Campus: Pros — At most schools, living on-campus means you can walk to pretty much everything: class, the library, the cafeteria, etc. You don’t have to waste valuable time and money driving to school and finding a parking place (hello, snooze button!). Cons — Sometimes it’s nice to escape the campus bubble for a while…and when you live there, you can’t.
Off-Campus: Pros — You might be farther from school but closer to other things you love, like your favorite coffee shop, gym, or even home! Go green and get in an extra workout by biking to school. Cons — If discipline isn’t your strong suit, being closer to extracurriculars might be distracting…and expensive.
On-Campus: Er, right…the actual “school” part. Pros — Everything you need academically is right at your fingertips, including the library, labs, professors for extra help, and other students for study groups. Cons — College campuses can be breeding grounds for stress. If you’re the kind of person who gets caught up in the frenzy, it might be better to live off-campus where you can work at your own pace.
Off-Campus: Pros — The quiet factor. There aren’t so many people coming and going (as long as you disable your Gchat window, that is). Cons — Forgot your bio textbook on campus? That’s one annoying drive back, especially if you’re working on a deadline.
On-Campus: Pros — Living right at school puts you in the middle of “the scene,” allowing you to meet people and establish friendships from the get-go. Cons — Living right at school puts you in the middle of “the scene”…
Off-Campus: Pros — Living in an apartment or house with friends from school will bring you even closer with a smaller group of people, allowing you to develop deep friendships that can be take longer to form on a busy campus. Cons — You’ll have to work extra hard to stay in the loop with campus activities.
On-Campus: Pros — You won’t be the one scrubbing toilets and cleaning the sinks. You also won’t have to worry about monthly rent payments, utility bills, and grocery shopping. Cons — It’s easy to get messy (and lazy) when someone else is cleaning up after you!
Off-Campus: Pros — Living on your own, you’ll learn valuable lessons about running a household and managing your money. You’ll also have a say in exactly what you want: your fav snacks, tissues, bath products, you name it. Cons — Solo cups piling up on the table? It’s on you to clean them up.
On-Campus: Pros — No excuses for skipping the gym; chances are, it’s within walking distance of your dorm or class and free with tuition! Cons — Three words: meal plan cookies.
Off-Campus: Pros — When you do your own grocery shopping, you’re more likely to pay attention to what you eat which can lead to healthier choices. Cons — Buying your own groceries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner can take more time and money than sticking with a grab-and-go meal plan.