A lot of students live on campus during the first year of college, and then transition off campus later in their college years. It can be stressful and confusing to make a decision about where you want to live, especially with so many different options available, such as renting a house vs. moving into student apartments vs. staying in the dorms. There are a lot of factors you need to look at when trying to pick one option over another, including, but not limited to, location, price, utilities, amenities, and most importantly, safety. It can all seem very overwhelming, but here are some of the big differences between the three most popular housing options that will hopefully help you make a decision when the time comes.
If living in a house sounds interesting to you, there are some factors you need to know. First you will generally have a landlord who will take care of most of the maintenance for the house like mowing the lawn and fixing any broken appliances. Houses are nice because you do get more living space and a yard. This is especially important if you want to have a pet. Living in a house allows you to also have that quieter neighborhood feel. However, safety is a little bit more of a concern with a house, because it is more private. I would recommend getting an alarm system if one is not already in place. Over all, living in a house probably sounds really fun, but you will be paying for more than you may actually realize. With a house, you will have to pay utilities, water, Internet, cable, and other similar bills in addition to the rent. This should be factored in when looking at the rent price on a house. If the house does not have a driveway you will have to park on the street and possibly need a city street pass so your car does not get towed or a parking ticket. A house is probably not going to be on the campus bus route, so a campus-parking pass may be needed as well. You will also most likely need to provide your own furniture, which can shoot the real cost of living in a house way up.
Another popular option is to sign a lease for a student apartment. These apartments are often tailored to student needs and preferences. You will also be surrounded by other college students, but in an environment that is a little different from a residence hall. Some apartment complexes are large, and therefore not super close to campus, but some schools will provide buses that will have stops near or at the major student apartment complexes. Apartments have 1, 2, 3, or 4 bedrooms. 4 bedroom apartments are usually the cheapest because the complexes can get more residents per square foot as opposed to just 1 or 2 people living in the same amount of space. A major plus to getting a student apartment is that most of them come fully furnished, so when you move in all you need is your clothes and kitchen supplies. Just like a house, you will pay rent each month. But unlike a house, your rent will often include water, cable, Internet, and utilities. Most apartments have a $60-$100 cap for the utilities, which means they will pay that much of your monthly usage, but if you go over your allowed cap, you will have to pay the difference. Most, if not all, student apartments have some type of security in place. For example the complex may be gated, have alarm systems, support a resident police officer, or even all three. This significantly increases the safety for students living there.
A third option would be to stay in the residence halls on campus. The nice thing about a dorm room is you’re usually living with just one other person, and your biggest household worry is keeping your side of the room clean. Living on campus also means you don’t have to worry about commuting, and you have easy access to the campus dining options, the rec. center, and the student center or union (which usually provides free or inexpensive entertainment for students). However, believe it or not, living in the dorm can actually be a little more expensive than renting a house or apartment, so do make comparisons. But on the plus side, you will not have to pay any unexpected fees, it’s all up front. You can’t go over on utilities or anything like that, and you are always right in the middle of the action happening on your campus.