I am coming to the end of my undergraduate career and have lived off campus for half that time. I figured now was as good a time as any to sort of talk about the whole living off campus thing. Maybe whoever reads this will find something of value to them. I'm just going to talk about some things one has to do to at least be somewhat successful at the whole thing.
When you move off campus you have to make your own food. That is a big thing in terms of differences between on-campus and off-campus living. There're no dining commons to go get food at. Instead, there is a stove, a microwave, a refrigerator and possible a toaster oven. You may also have just a plain toaster. The fact of the matter is that you have to make your own food. For some, this is daunting and for others, it's a walk in the park. If it seems like something that you're not sure you'll be able to manage, have no fear. There are marvelous things called microwave dinners. I know they are not everyone's thing, but sometimes it's your only option. I myself eat a lot of instant stuff. That's OK, though. I love it and they are easy to make. If you think you can't manage just turn the box or can over and read the directions for cooking. Directions are your friend. Some people who read this might be thinking that I am being ridiculous in writing this. Maybe I am, but for someone who is a little skeptical about the whole fending for themselves might like this.
Basically, when it comes to food go for the boxed and canned goods. They're easy to make and quite filling. You can also work with foodstuffs like actual meat and vegetables/fruit, but sometimes you're lazy and just want quick and easy. If you want to mess with actual food though I highly recommend potatoes. A versatile item, the potato. You can boil, mash, bake, fry, and just about anything with a potato. Feel free to experiment. The same with chicken. There's canned chicken or actual chicken bits that are available for purchase. Chicken is just really good too. Oh jeez, just talking about food is making me hungry.
Living off campus means also living with roommates. You're going to have roommates to split the rent on an apartment. Not everyone can afford $1200 a month as an undergraduate student. Split four ways that comes to $300 a month which is much more manageable. It seems like a lot but as most undergrads take out loans to pay for school it'll be fine. Trust me. I won't get too specific about rent and all that because that is not what I'm aiming for here. I want to talk more about adjusting to off-campus life. So, onto roommates.
Roommates might be people you know from class or complete strangers. Regardless, you're going to have to adjust to their habits and idiosyncrasies. This can be quite the challenge as you will have your way of living and doing things while your roommates will too. Sometimes that can lead to conflict. It happens. It's OK, though. You guys will work it out and manage to live together without too many blips on the radar. Just be aware that you will have to adjust. While you do you will be frustrated by the others. You're going to want to yell at those who don't seem to understand that leaving pans and dishes out for a week is not good. You'll get annoyed when one of them seems to think they have to mother you even though you have one. You may also want to yell because someone insists that they are always right. Sadly, because it is a bit poor form, you cannot just lose your temper and yell for an hour. I myself have wanted to do that, but it would have been in really poor form.
Depending on how many people you live with, whether in an apartment or a house, you may end up having to share a room. Sometimes that means a smaller portion of rent to pay. For instance, you may share the master bedroom in a house where rent is divided up by room. The master bedroom may be $500, but between two people it'll only be $250. That is a pretty sweet deal. But back to sharing a room. Depending on the size of the room there may be two separate beds or a shared bunk-bed. Either way, you have to share even more space than you do in the living space altogether. Granted this may not be an entirely new experience if having come from living in the dorms on-campus, but sometimes it can still be an adjustment. Speaking from experiencing both, the sharing of a bedroom can be quite varying. I remember instances in the dorms where I straight up left the bedroom because the other person was making so much noise just by turning the pages of their notebook. I really like to sleep and this did not help. Other experiences entail the roommate blending a protein shake at 6 o'clock in the f@#king morning. Why do people not like sleep?
The main point is that when living with other people off campus it'll be different because you have more freedom and some more responsibilities. The big thing though is dealing with the other people. You will come into conflict with them. Unless you communicate too, the conflict will escalate until it's impossible to even be in the same room as some of those you live with. You don't want that. You'll be looking for a new place to live in the middle of the semester and that'll just be unneeded stress for you. School is stressful enough as it is so you don't need that to happen. So if someone is doing something that irks you go ahead and speak up. It won't be silly. Your feelings are just as important as the other people's. For instance, if you are annoyed by the fact that someone doesn't pick up after themselves, then you can request they be a bit tidier. If they are leaving messes in the front room, as an example, then you are well within your right to ask them. That's a public space that other people see when they visit and a mess can be embarrassing to find.
Speaking of public or communal space the fridge tends to be such a place. Food is a thing that can start conflict believe it or not. Everyone likes to eat and has their own preferences for food. When sharing a limited space like a fridge you might have to label your food. This can prevent the conflict of people eating what isn't theirs. It can be really annoying when you go to grab a bite of what you've purchased and it's not there. A tip for food in the fridge too is to actually eat it. Produce foods spoil and if your food goes bad while it sits beside everyone else's food they're going to be pissed. It's like throwing money away. Therefore, if you buy a bit of fruit or veggies and let it go bad, you'll not only be sad to have no food, but also the subject of others' anger. So just remember to actually eat the goods you buy. If you're worried about food spoiling then don't buy a ton, no matter if there was a sale.
These are just a few things I feel that anyone who is going to live off campus should know. If I have missed anything that you, the reader, wanted to know about I apologize. These are just some of the main things that I have picked up on. It is by no means an exhaustive sort of bit of information, but some things that I think others should know. If you liked any of this, great! If you found this just dumb, I don't know what to tell you. I tried. Hopefully, someone likes this.