Off-Campus Life: The Good, the Bad, and the Happy Medium

3 Nov

Leah Steppe- Public Relations and Advertising, Peer Counselor
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

For Rent Sign

Deciding where to live while you’re in college is a big decision for most. It’s your home away from home. There are hundreds of different living options while you are in college house, apartment, duplex, or dorm. One way to narrow down your search is to answer one simple question… Do you want to live on or off campus?.

To help ease the decision let’s discuss pros and cons to living off campus.

Distance

Pro: Many housing options (house, apartment, duplex) are considered off campus but are actually within walking distance to campus.  Living within walking distance can be great for students who want to live close (especially students who don’t have a car) but do not want to live in the dorms.

Con: Living off campus can mean living OFF campus, be careful what you look for. Although, many residency options are close to campus, there are just as many that are not within walking distance and require additional transportation… Most places around Purdue University are less than 10 miles or closer to campus so the drive really isn’t bad. Check out our article “Is It Worth It to Own a Car In College?” to see if you can afford the cost of transportation or for ideas on other means of transportation, some apartment complexes even have their own shuttle service.

Cost

The cost of living off campus can be significantly cheaper than living on campus, but it’s all about how and where you live.

Pro: Living off campus can be cheaper if you live in the right place. Typically, living further off campus can save you money on rent but your transportation costs may increase.

Photo By DrJunge

Photo By DrJunge

Typically, the nicer the apartment (i.e more amenities) the more expensive it is so you have to be careful. Living in a smaller place with more roommates can also save money by spreading the costs of living with more people (not just rent, but utilities, transportation, and food too). You also have the ability to buy and make your own food which means you can save a lot of money if you shop wisely. If it is your first time on your own or you just want to learn how to cook for less check out “Suiting Up Your Kitchen” or “When Raman Just Isn’t Enough, Why you Should Cook!”to learn quick tips on setting up your kitchen and cooking more than out of a box.

Con: Living closer to campus can be more expensive because you have the luxury of living close to classes, food, and entertainment. Living in a nicer, larger apartment with many amenities can be more expensive as well. The cost is greater because the demand for those apartments will be higher and real estate is all about location location location.

Space

Zami student housingPro: Moving out of the dorms means having a lot more space. When you live in an apartment or a house you usually have your own bedroom which means no more sharing a bedroom. You also could have your own bathroom or one you share with 1 or 2 other people, which is better than a whole floor of people. Almost all apartments or houses are going to offer more space than a dorm, just be sure to do your research.

Con: You may end up paying more for that space though if you choose to live in an apartment complex with lots of amenities. The fewer roommates you have, the more space you have, but you typically end up paying more for a 2-bedroom apartment versus a 4-bedroom apartment. Also, it costs money to heat and cool all that extra space too, something you didn’t have to account for when living in the dorms and the heating bill can really add up in the chilly Indiana winters.

Lease

Signing a lease means you are locked into living in that space for as long as the lease says, unless you sublease your place. Most leases around Purdue University are for a full year which means you are responsible for paying rent even when school is not in session.

FDR signing paperPro: This can be a good thing for those students taking summer courses, working on or around campus for the summer, or if you just want to get away from home for a while.

Con: It can be a hassle though as a lot of students will go home during the summer which means paying rent for a place you are not even living at.

Deciding where to live while you are away at college is a big decision. Make sure you do some research before choosing a place because once you sign that lease it is difficult to get out. Here are some resources to check out for help in finding the right place for you:

  • Boiler Apartments
  • Purdue Housing Fair: Takes places once a semester on campus. Several apartment complexes hand out information about their apartments and free stuff! Dates will be announced at beginning of each semesters.
  • Purdue Off Campus Housing

The right place is out there for everyone whether it’s on campus, off campus, right next to campus, or somewhere in between. Just be sure to find the right fit for you and remember there are pros and cons to living on and off campus. When you find the right place it will not be a dorm, apartment, house, or duplex it will be your home.

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