There are lots of things that you need to decide when you head off to college. You need to decide on a major. You have to figure out which things to take with you and which to leave behind. You have to decide whether or not to take your car. You have to decide where you want to live.
Sometimes the choice of where to live will be decided for you. Maybe you’re going to live at home to save money. Some schools require that all incoming freshman and transfer students spend at least one semester (or year) living in on-campus housing. If you aren’t living at home or forced to stay on campus, though, your options are wide open. Where do you want to live? Do you want to stay on campus or do you want to try your hand at living completely independently? There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Living On Campus: The Pros and Cons
PROS: Living in a dorm is one of those experiences that everybody should have at least once. There is a communal comaraderie that happens in a dorm hallway that cannot be replicated in an apartment building–even if all of your friends rent spaces in the same complex. There is also the added benefit of having close proximity to all of the campus events both official (sponsored lectures, meet and greets, shows, etc) and not (parties). Being able to walk to the majority of the things you want to do is incredibly handy, especially when it comes to getting home after a party. And, of course, you’ll never have to worry about food: just go to the dining hall and load up.
CONS: At the same time, college living spaces are notoriously cramped. You can expect to share a tiny 12×12 room with at least one other person. You will have to share a bathroom with a dozen other people. If you get along with your roommate and hallmates this can be great fun. If you don’t particularly like each other, it can be torture. Then, come summer, you’re forced to move out and that means figuring out what to do with all of your stuff.
PRO TIP: Follow in the footsteps of your upperclasspeople and go in on a storage unit with a few friends. It makes moving out and then back in much simpler.
Living Off Campus: The Pros and Cons
PROS: When you rent your own space, you will have total independence. You don’t have to worry about things like quiet hours (unless your complex has them in place). You don’t have to fit your meals into a dining hall’s serving schedule. You can decorate however you want. You will also have a lot more privacy when you live off campus. You can also bring all of your own furniture from home, which can help reduce costs (and fears about sleeping on a mattress that has seen a dozen other bodies). Finally–you won’t be forced to move out over the summer months.
CONS: Often you’ll have to find a few people to rent the apartment with you to make the space more affordable and most apartments have strict occupancy limits. Paying rent out of pocket every month can also be rough, especially if you have to come up with a way to pay it yourself. On top of that you’ll have to buy all of your own food and supplies and clean your own bathroom and kitchen. And, of course, there’s the fact that you will be held financially liable for any damage done to the space while you are in it.
PRO TIP: When you do move out, www.mayflower.com recommends hiring a cleaning service to get the apartment in tip top shape. This increases your chances of not having to lose any of your security deposit.
There are benefits and disadvantages to both options. It is important to weigh them all before you make a decision about where you want to live after you leave home to go to school.