The Truth About Living Off Campus

Some colleges are designed for students to live on campus all four years. Others are not. Here is everything you need to know about living off campus.


Most colleges require at least freshman to live in a dorm room on campus. Dorm rooms are a good way to adjust to college life in a semi-controlled environment. Leaving a dorm and looking for off-campus housing has a lot of different variables when making a decision. Sometimes students stay on campus all four years, sometimes they don’t. If your university has the majority of upper class men living off campus, it probably means that’s the cheapest option. Continuing to live on campus is typically a more expensive options in very large schools or a college in a city.

Personally, I still live in on-campus housing because I am a Resident Advisor at my university. This was an option that was great for me because I needed the discounted housing to help with lowering my student loans. Check out becoming an RA at university as a great way to save money on housing!

Living in Off Campus Houses

A cute and cozy off campus house

Renting an off campus house can be a great option for many students. There is typically a lot more space in a house and a lot of times its cheaper than apartments. Noisy upstairs neighbors aren’t a problem in a home and a yard is often included. Two important things to consider when looking at houses though, is maintenance and security. A house often has fewer security measures than apartments and is more of a target for break-ins. Maintenance through a landlord as opposed to an apartment complex can be a nightmare, or it can be a breeze. Make sure to check out reviews on your landlord and ask questions about how maintenance issues will be resolved.

It’s also incredibly important to check out the laws in your area regarding home rentals. In my college town, a maximum of three people who are not related to each other can live together regardless of house size. And yes, police do check. And yes, they do give fines. Just keep that in mind when searching for a rental house for your college years.

Living in Off Campus Apartments

The view of an apartment building from the street

Off-Campus apartments can be awesome! They give you added security of being in a complex as opposed to a house. Maintenance tends to be done a lot quicker at apartments because these complexes typically have a team of maintenance workers on call for fixes as opposed to a landlord who has to hire direct. Off-campus houses do normally have a tad less space than a house and lack a yard. They make up for it however, in often offering a community pool, gym, or other amenities.

Parking is normally a bit more scarce for visitors in an apartment complex but permanent residents have their designated spots. In an apartment rather than a house, residents can select a “random roommate” from the complex. This means, if three girls want to live together in a four person apartment, they can select a “random roommate” to be placed in the spare room. In a house rental, all renters would have to be decided beforehand.

A super cool feature a lot of apartment complexes have adopted in college towns is renting by the room, so each roommate would pay $650 for their room. This means if Sally Jane doesn’t pay the rent on her room, it doesn’t effect the other roommates at all. She would be evicted but the other roommates would have no consequences on their credit or their apartment.

The Breakdown

House– more space
– less expensive
– easier parking
– yard
– no wall-neighbors
– less security
– maintenance is difficult
– little to no amenities
– limit to # of roommates
-rent is paid in a sum of
Apartment– amenities (pool, gym, etc.)
– quicker maintenance fixes
– more security
– rent is paid by room
– roommate matching
– more expensive
– no yard
– limited guest parking
– sharing walls with neighbors

The truth about off campus house is that it depends on you. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of off campus housing. Finding roommates who want similar qualities in a rental are what can really make-or-break a home. Be sure to do your research on who you’re renting from and how they take care of their renters.

Leave any questions or further advice in the comments!

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