During my entire four years of college, I never lived on campus. Some may say I missed out on the unique experience of living on a college campus in a dorm room with a total stranger. I say I dodged a bullet.
The truth is, I have no regrets about choosing to live off-campus for my entire college career. I still had a solid group of friends and did well in all my classes. In fact, I’d choose to do it all over again. Here are five reasons why.
Not that money should be the most important driver to any decision, but it’s definitely a crucial point. Depending on where you go to school and the town’s average cost of living, you can usually live off-campus, in your own space, for less money.
With the rising cost of education came astronomically high housing and meal plan prices for most institutions. Some dorm rooms will cost a student more than $4,000 per semester — that’s almost $1,200 a month for one student, who could be splitting a similar price between three or four roommates in an off-campus apartment or house.
Another somewhat obvious reason it’s better to live off-campus than on-campus is because you get more freedom. No longer do you have an RA a few doors down waiting to bust you for enjoying a beer after class — even if you’re 21. You have your own space with no one baby-sitting you anymore. It’s a true taste of liberty and independence.
That being said, it’s important to mention that you do still have rules to follow that are set forth by your landlord. Failure to comply with your lease could land you in big trouble, so you still have to keep yourself (generally) under control.
If you’re like most of us, you probably didn’t mesh well with your random dorm roommate from freshman year. In fact, you might not have even lasted the entire year with them — not that I’m speaking from experience.
One of the best parts about my time living off-campus was the fact that I was living with my best friends. At times it felt like a movie — we got to have sleepovers every night! Being able to choose your own roommates is many students’ primary reason for moving to town.
On the flip side, living in an off-campus house or apartment likely means you have your own room to retreat to when you need some space, quiet or privacy. For me, being able to shut my bedroom door when I needed to study, nap or just spend some time reading was a blessing. College is a stressful time, and sometimes you just want to be alone for a few minutes.
Since you aren’t forced to purchase a $2,000 meal plan every semester when you live off-campus, you have more than enough money to grocery shop with. You can purchase some seriously delicious ingredients, a few basic pieces of cookware and any necessary utensils and still save money compared to buying a meal plan. Plus, now that you’re equipped with a full kitchen instead of a microwave and a hot plate, you can let your true culinary skills shine.
I’m not much of a cook, but one of my roommates was, which was just as awesome. If you take the time to meal plan, grocery shop and prepare a few dishes to get you through the week, you can really be eating well for a college student.
A Taste of the Real World
Perhaps all these perks of living off campus can be summed up into one simple reason most students choose to live off-campus: It gives them a taste of the real world.
College students often feel stuck in a strange in-between phase of life. They aren’t kids anymore, but they aren’t really adults, either. Living off-campus is a way for students to take on more responsibilities and experience what life is like as a real person. Paying bills, cleaning, taking out the trash, bringing in the mail and other household maintenance activities all contribute to that.
So, that’s why I don’t regret skipping the on-campus housing phase of my college years — and neither does my bank account!