By: Demetrios Salpoglou
Preparing to start a new semester means making tough decisions about what classes to take, whether to get a job, and what activities you want to make time for. One of the toughest decisions is deciding where to live. If you are trying to figure out whether to live in the dorm or in an off campus apartment, there are many things you need to consider before you make that decision.
Sure, dorms are great for some people. The university may even require you to live in the dorm your freshman year. So why do so many sophomores and upperclassmen choose to live in apartments near campus?
Off-campus apartments let you choose the people you share your living space with. In large dorms, you could be sharing a bathroom or even a bedroom with multiple people. Even in larger dorms, you may be forced to share living space with strangers. In an off-campus apartment, you generally get to choose the people you live with, and the only ones who have a key are the people you allow.
Many Resident Assistants (RA’s) are given access to dorm rooms to enforce many on-campus regulations. In an off-campus apartment, you don’t have to worry about a surprise spot-check to make sure your fire extinguisher is unobstructed under the sink. If you live in an off-campus apartment, you’re protected by Massachusetts tenant laws and a landlord must give you reasonable notice before entering the premises.
In most cases, apartments offer more amenities than dorm rooms, like full kitchens, dedicated living rooms, and your own bathroom. Some apartments also offer bike storage, fitness facilities, and gaming rooms. You can even find a pet-friendly apartment in Boston so you don’t have to leave pup at home like you would if you stayed in the dorm.
Dorms are often off-limits to overnight guests unless you have the permission from the RA, and who wants to ask permission every time you might want to bring a guest over? In an off-campus apartment, you control who stays and who goes, and when.
On-campus dorms are just that: on campus. But what if your job or family is in another neighborhood? An off-campus apartment may bring you closer to the people you care about and may reduce your commute to work leaving you more time to study.
Another reason that staying off-campus may be more convenient is that restaurants and stores are usually found near apartments and not dorm rooms. Grocery stores and late-night takeout are hard to come by on some campuses.
Depending on the University you attend, living in an off-campus apartment is usually much cheaper than in a dorm. With access to a full-sized refrigerator and oven, you can cook for yourself and save money on meal plans and take-out. Parking is generally less expensive in an apartment than the fee for having your own car on campus. While this won’t be the case all the time, you’d be surprised to find that in many cases, living off campus can be more cost effective. Dorms generally charge a higher price to share a room than finding an off campus apartment with your own room. Many people find they can study better when they can have their own room and go to bed at their own time without disturbing others.
The price per month is not the only thing to consider when comparing the cost of on-campus versus off-campus living. Dorms are generally open only during the school year, and you may have to move in and out each semester. If you stay in the dorm, you have to figure out where you are going to live during the summer and winter breaks. Short-term rentals can be expensive, especially in these in-demand times. If you get an off-campus apartment, you don’t have to move every semester or pay the inflated rates to find a space a few months at a time.
The decision to live in an off campus apartment vs. on-campus dorm living is never an easy one, and it’s largely dependent on your University’s housing policies and your lifestyle preferences. That being said, you can make a pretty good case for the advantages of renting off campus compared to living in the dorms. For a huge database of off campus living options, check out offcampuspads.com!