Living off campus while earning your college degree is often cheaper than living on campus nowadays, so it’s no surprise that most college students opt to rent an apartment or house with friends off campus. Living off campus provides students with less restrictions and more freedoms. However, living off campus can come with some serious drawbacks, too.
Unless you can get your classes to all line up consecutively one after the other (which is basically impossible unless you’re God), you could be looking at spending quite a large portion of your free time behind the wheel of your vehicle, especially if you're in a bigger city. Better work on creating a rockin' playlist to head bang to while you’re sitting at that red light for the next 10 minutes.
2. Feeling disconnected.
Since you're not where all of the hustle and bustle is at, you have to make more of an effort to stay involved on campus. Staying on top of all of the activities and events your college campus has to offer can be tricky because you’re not physically living there. Joining a club, participating in an intramural sport, getting a job on campus, and becoming involved with greek life are all effective ways to keep one foot on campus, even if the other one is off.
3. So. Many. Distractions.
If you thought it was easy to get distracted when you were living on campus, being off campus is definitely a million times worse. You’re physically apart from the learning environment that a college campus provides and it’s not nearly as easy to make a midnight trip to the library when you’re halfway across town rather than a few steps away from your dorm room. Distractions that are heavily monitored or altogether restricted on college campuses such as partying and underage drinking, are usually fair game in off campus dwellings. So if you’re rooming with friends off campus, just make sure your roommates know not to throw a raging party complete with strobe lights and eardrum-demolishing music the night before you have to take your anatomy and physiology final.
Not that living on campus is typically free, but living on campus means you aren’t responsible for paying monthly electricity, water, air conditioning/heating, and other utility bills. One of the reasons most colleges require freshmen to live on campus, aside from the fact that they like to make money at every given opportunity, is that college is stressful — plain and simple. Adding the additional worry of remembering to pay bills each month can add even more stress onto a student’s shoulders. On the bright side, living off campus will prepare you better for entering the real world post-graduation, so don’t be too bitter that your wallet seems to be perpetually empty.
5. Cooking for yourself.
Chances are, if you’re living off campus, you’re most likely not paying for a college meal plan (or you have the meal plan that offers the bare minimum). If you happen to be a culinary genius, than this is probably not even a drawback for you. However, for the rest of us, this means that we will likely suffer through a few cases of food poisoning and some late-night runs to good ol’ McDonald’s after accidentally burning frozen pizza and setting off all the fire alarms in our entire apartment complex (and realizing you definitely could’ve lived the rest of your life without seeing your landlord in his heart-patterned boxers). The college cafeteria food may not always be the most appetizing, but the fact that you don’t have to lift a finger to make it is pretty appealing.
Now I know that not all relationships between college students living off campus and neighbors are like the relationship between Zac Efron and Seth Rogen in the movie Neighbors, but there is something to be said about neighbors who aren’t pursuing a degree in college. You may have to be extra cautious of your sound level or hosting parties if you live off-campus because your neighbors may be a young family with an infant or an elderly woman who happens to be very inclined to call the police on you at every given opportunity. Being aware of who your neighbors are and dealing with their wishes may be important in order to avoid conflict with them.
Most colleges’ housing departments will allow you to switch dorms and roommates if issues arise throughout the year, and the perform maintenance/repairs upon request and as needed. In an apartment or rental house, you will have the pleasure of dealing with your landlord instead. Though there are many friendly and helpful landlords out there, some may not be so eager to communicate and cooperate politely with you, or fulfill maintenance requests. Be prepared to be polite, yet assertive when speaking with your landlord if you choose to rent an apartment or house off campus, and remember to always read the terms of your lease carefully.
8. Taking everything with you.
Since you have to commute to all of your classes, you likely have to bring all of the stuff you’ll need for the day with you since there may not be enough time between your classes to make the commute back to your apartment or house. You will have to have all the books for your classes with you, and use what gaps of time you do have between your classes to do homework, study, and eat. You might feel like you’re back in elementary school lugging around a backpack bigger than the state of Texas, but at least you won't be making 8934849 zillion trips back and forth between your apartment or house and campus each day. On a positive note, at least you'll get a workout hauling around all of your stuff on a day-to-day basis.
Overall, living off campus has some serious cons, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some pleasant pros, too! Living off campus is very beneficial to becoming more self-sufficient and independent, which will prepare you more efficiently for the world of adulthood and post-graduation living. Buying groceries, paying bills, cooking, cleaning, and learning how to be responsible, in general, are all tasks you’ll eventually have to learn to do regardless of whether you live on campus or not during your college years, but being off campus can give you a substantial head-start. Not to mention, it can save you some serious cash when it comes to paying off college debt! Cha-ching.