Living On-Campus vs. Off-Campus

Shayndel Jones

At some point or another, deciding to live off-campus is a decision that most students make. Some things to consider when deciding to move off-campus is availability, convenience, furniture, groceries, condition, financial income, legal obligations, privacy and living with a roommate.

When living on-campus, space in the Living Learning Center, the Village, Greek houses and other residence halls is limited. If a student would like to live on-campus, they must apply as soon as possible as rooms fill up quickly. Generally, the best, least expensive and most convenient places to live near the university are often filled two to three months before a new quarter begins.

If students live in a residence hall, they will only need to walk a short distance to their desired locations. As for a student who is living off-campus, scheduling and preparation are key for arriving to their destinations in a timely manner. Off-campus apartments and houses can be either near or far to campus, but students can walk, drive, bike or take the bus to the university.

“I actually don’t live on my own, so there are not many struggles that I have to endure,” says Sarah Shapiro, freshman biology major.

Residence hall rooms come with furniture, such as beds, desks and chairs. They also have free cable television and internet access.

Off-campus housing may be furnished or unfurnished and students may need to set up their own telephone, internet and utilities.

Some residence halls have only limited access to kitchens and others have in-unit kitchens if you want to cook for yourself. Most residence hall rooms come with a required dining plan with a range of levels you can choose from depending on your needs. Choices from the dining facilities on campus range from salad bars and sandwiches to pizza and international food.

If you live off-campus, you can cook for yourself. This can be cheaper, healthier and more flexible than on-campus dining. Eating at restaurants is nice, but it can become expensive quickly.

“I like making my own food so I know exactly what I’m getting, although occasionally I go to the Union to eat with friends,” Shapiro said.

Most residence halls are clean and well-maintained. Some are brand new or have been open only one or two years. Cheaper off-campus apartments can vary in quality; however, most can be made comfortable. Before signing a contract for an apartment, walk around with the landlord and write down any repairs needed for their information and for yours.

Residence halls house hundreds of students, so sometimes it can become noisy. Most residence hall rooms are shared with at least one other person, so students will need to make adjustments and be flexible. However, living in the halls provides a social atmosphere and the chance to meet friends.

If students live off-campus in a room or house, they will usually have several people living in the house with them. Living in an off-campus apartment may be quieter, more private, and offer more choices about how a student lives.

Residence hall costs for room and meals are usually similar to apartment costs off-campus. Depending on the neighborhood, students may be able to rent inexpensive off-campus housing with other students and share food, rent and other costs.

Contracts for both residence halls and apartments are legally binding documents. Residence hall contracts are for the academic year, but students can leave early by paying an extra fee. Apartment leases are more difficult to break. However, students can choose the length of a lease before they sign it.

Sharing a room or an apartment with people can be an interesting experience. To have a good living situation, students should be open and communicate honestly with roommates. Talk about issues such as privacy, using the phone, schedules, study and social habits, food, chores, cleaning and finances before problems arise.