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On or Off Campus: Which Housing Type Should You Choose?

On or Off Campus: Which Housing Type Should You Choose?
One major decision you'll have to make when you go to school is whether to live on campus or find off-campus housing. There are lots of pros and cons to both options, which makes it a hard decision. Take a look at these five factors to consider when choosing where to live while going to school.

Personal Privacy

When you live on campus, usually your only option is a small dorm room that you may or may not have to share with a roommate or two. Then, there are often shared bathrooms and dorms packed close to each other. When you live this close to so many other people, your privacy takes a hit. People will know what you're watching on TV, when you're awake, when you're away from the dorm, what you eat, and so much more. If you want more privacy, you should consider off-campus housing.

Social Atmosphere

Even though dorms lack privacy, they do have a unique social atmosphere. You'll always have people to talk to and activities to attend. Living in a dorm room is how you have the stereotypical college experience, but you have to decide if the social atmosphere of on-campus living is worth the trade-offs, like lack of privacy. Plus, you can have a social life living off campus; it will just come with different dynamics.


In general, living on campus is cheaper than living off campus. However, there are exceptions depending on the school you go to. For instance, schools in smaller cities often have affordable off-campus housing that is comparable to on-campus living costs. One major cost factor to consider is food. When you live in a dorm, you usually also get a meal plan/card to use in the school's cafeteria. When you live off-campus, food is entirely your responsibility. Do you want to be a victim of the Freshman 15?

Proximity to School

Living on-campus definitely has its advantages. For instance, you don't have to own a car because you can walk to all of your classes. You also can sleep in longer because you don't have to commute. Sometimes you can find off-campus housing that is close to school, but it's hard to do and usually more expensive.

Space to Stretch Out

Dorms are notorious for their small size. There's typically only room for a bed, desk, and dresser. This isn't a problem if you don't plan on spending much time in your dorm, but most people would prefer more space to stretch out and have friends over. Space is one of the biggest reasons people decide to look for housing off campus.

There's really no best answer for whether you should live on campus or off campus. You really have to decide what factors are more important to you. Create a list of pros and cons and look at the options available to you before deciding.

Image via Flickr by wikichen