For a lot of people, going to college means figuring out a new housing arrangement. However, a lot of people don’t fully understand their options, or what they are getting themselves into. Knowing the pros and cons of all of your options can help you decide what housing situation is best for you. Follow this guide to find your perfect college home, and get prepared for a lot of the surprises that can come with each of them.
Living At Home
Many new students think living at home is the obvious choice, but the decision isn’t as simple as it looks.
Living at home is cheap. Even if your parents or guardians charge rent, it’s usually a lower amount than you would find anywhere else. Plus, there’s (usually) free food, and help with the day to day grind of life. You are surrounded by family and have a lot of immediate support.
When you live at home, you are inherently giving up some of your independence. Even in the least strict household, you are still living under someone else’s roof, and every decision you make gets shuffled around your family. You are also never guaranteed a silent study space, especially if you have other siblings living at home along with you. Things can get crowded, fast.
Dorm life is probably the most iconic college experience out there. Roommates, dorm rules, and dorm parties seem to litter social media, movies, and college novels. Sure, it sounds great but, let’s take a closer look.
Dorms cost less money than renting a house or an apartment. You are exposed to new people almost every semester, and things can get exciting with parties, new people from all over the world, and more. Plus, you have the freedom and satisfaction of living away from home as an adult, you’re right on campus so getting to class is easy, and there is always a new friend around the corner.
Dorms are crowded, noisy, and old. You rarely get to choose your roommates which means fights can happen quickly. You are mostly thrown together with random strangers and asked to live in harmony. Your space, your stuff, and your life is compounded in conjunction with a bunch of other people all the time. Who washes the dishes, who leaves a mess, who cooks, whose food is whose is always a constant battle. Oh, and you’re paying for this pleasure.
College Approved Housing
College Approved Housing sounds like the best solution to new students. However, yet again, the decision is not an easy one.
College Approved Housing is required to meet a particular set of standards. The landlord has to comply with regulations, rules, and guidelines established by the school so, College Approved Housing is typically a little nicer than the average apartment or house rentals. Some schools will subsidize approved housing making it cheaper for students. Another plus is that students are allowed to choose their roommates. No random selection here and friends can easily get apartments together.
College Approved Housing is more expensive than living in the dorms, and some students do not like the restrictions that are put in place by the school. This kind of housing is also typically off campus, which means your commute to class is a little longer, and you’ll likely have to figure out transportation on your own. Most students can’t afford to go without roommates, so independence is still restricted.
Off-Campus Apartment Rentals
No school attached housing sounds ideal. However, there are a lot of things to consider.
The school has no hold over off-campus apartment rentals. Students can live wherever they want, with whoever they want, and they have no rules other than those established in their lease. Students live with a lot of independence.
This option is the second most expensive housing option available. Students almost always need a roommate, and there is no protection from family or school authorities. You’re on your own. Your neighbors are not always college students and could be obnoxious or spiteful toward students. You’re at the mercy of your landlord to fix problems with the apartment and uphold their end of the lease.
Renting a house can be freeing, and exciting. However, it’s important to look at it from all angles.
House rentals give you much more space than renting an apartment. You often have your room, or you share a much larger room than you would with any other option. There is usually a yard where you can sit and enjoy the outdoors, and you live in a low to medium density neighborhood rather than a full apartment complex. You have the freedom to choose your roommates, and since you all have much more room to breathe, there’s typically less bickering.
Housing rentals are among the very most expensive options unless you are sharing with a lot of people. You are at the total mercy of your landlord, and your lease is almost always through a private renter with no company to provide protections. There is limited parking, and you will typically be living much farther from campus than any other option.
Whichever housing option you choose, always remember to consider what you can easily afford, what you’re willing to put up with, and what your personal needs are. No option is easy, but no choice is without its set of benefits either. Talk to your family and friends, see what arrangements are available, and tour a few housing options before you make your final decision. Remember, no housing situation has to be permanent. Leases all have an end date, so go with what you think is best, and know that even in a worst case situation, it won’t last forever.