On- or Off-Campus Living: The Pros and Cons


After freshman or sophomore year, many college students explore the option of living off-campus. There are many pros and cons to both dorm life and off-campus living. Life in the dorms can be pretty good; there are always plenty of students around, you have a meal plan and you're located right on campus. Then again, there are always plenty of students around, you have a meal plan and you're located right on campus. When deciding on what's right for you, review your own personal needs and preferences then weigh the pros and cons to find which living situation will allow you to make the most of your college experience.

On-Campus Pros


  • Room and board are paid for at the beginning of the semester.
  • Fully cooked meals are available in the dining hall often offered through pre-paid meal plans.
  • Fellow students - it's easier to make new friends.
  • Classes are nearby.
  • Dorms usually have security guards or security cameras.
  • Staff clean the bathrooms, vacuum the hallway carpets and restock toilet paper and other essentials.
  • Monthly bills for heat, electric and internet are included in the room cost.
  • The fun of campus life.

On-Campus Cons


  • Room and board are expensive and non-negotiable.
  • You will most likely be sharing a room.
  • For some colleges, if you only grab a slice of pizza in the dining hall it will cost you the same amount as a three course meal on a meal plan.
  • Packed with students - your privacy and quiet time are practically non-existent.
  • Your bedroom is the size of a closet.
  • Your closet is the size of a shoe box.
  • There are an awful lot of people using those bathrooms.

Off-Campus Pros


  • Rent is usually less expensive than room and board.
  • You buy your own groceries, so you'll always like everything on the menu.
  • Bedrooms are probably larger, and you might not have to share.
  • You can choose your housemates.
  • Fewer people sharing the bathroom.
  • Greater sense of independence.
  • You can close your bedroom door if you need to study without distractions.
  • You get to furnish and decorate your own space.
  • You can relax and enjoy the residential atmosphere.

Off-Campus Cons


  • You have to pay the rent every month or face a penalty, such as getting kicked out.
  • You have to seriously budget for food shopping and other essentials.
  • You have to clean the bathroom and keep it stocked with toilet paper yourself.
  • Actually, you have to clean the entire house/apartment.
  • If you lose your keys and your housemates are out there's no one to let you in.
  • Security measures are your responsibility.
  • You may spend more time and money on transportation to get to your classes (car expenses, public transportation, etc.)
  • You are responsible for your own phone bills, electric, heat, cable, internet service, etc. These must be paid monthly and on time.
  • You have to furnish your own space.

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