By Marilyn Zelinsky-Syarto
Living on campus is often the first choice for freshmen college students because it offers convenience, but off-campus living also has plenty of perks. Once you realize (and master) the freedom of living off campus, you may wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. The College Board reported the average cost of undergraduate room and board in 2016–2017 was between $8,000 and $12,000. Adding a convenient but costly food plan bumps the price up a few thousand dollars a year. Consider these five off-campus benefits that are hard to beat in comparison to dorm living.
1. You Will Save Money
Living off campus let’s you stretch your dollar in a number of ways, such as saving money by shopping wisely for groceries instead of paying for a food plan that offers limited and pricey meals. Off-campus living often comes with free parking and access to cost-saving public transportation lines, which means you don’t have to scramble for scarce parking spaces or pay hefty fees for campus parking.
To save substantially more, act early to find the best choices for off-campus housing. “The earlier students start their search, the better,” says Abby Browning, a landlord relations specialist with Student.com, a resource for finding off-campus housing. “That means November to December, students typically get the best price and have the most options.” Rent varies from city to city, Browning says, noting that the most expensive cities to rent off campus include Manhattan and Los Angeles, while students spend less on rent for off-campus housing in Auburn, Alabama, and Athens, Georgia, for example.
2. You Could Live Healthier
Healthy living is ultimately a personal choice, but you have many more opportunities to make good choices when cooking your own food instead of eating from a meal plan that serves up cafeteria-style food. In addition to the luxury of having your own kitchen, you might have a bedroom to yourself, which could result in sounder sleep.
Other off-campus health benefits include the option of a furry roommate, if allowed, making you the envy of dorm dwellers who miss out on personal pet therapy. It also helps your blood pressure to leave campus drama behind. Want to ease more college anxiety? If you’re not doing the driving, use your commuting time to squeeze in more study time.
3. You Will Have More Privacy
Privacy, like freedom, is a luxury for new and seasoned college students, and with off-campus housing, it will be easier to get it. You might have a private bedroom and bathroom or at least share them with your roommate of choice instead of a stranger. You may also study better in quieter quarters without hallway conversations or other dorm distractions.
4. You Will Have Amenities
Rather than settling for institutional on-campus dorm settings, Browning is an advocate of off-campus student communities, also known as “purpose-built student accommodations,” which are leased apartments designed to ease the student housing crunch. “Most purpose-built student accommodations start leasing in November for the next school year,” she says, adding that it’s worth looking into this option for a number of reasons. Landlords like to incentivize students to sign leases early by offering better prices, fully furnished units, 24/7 security, and proximity to extra amenities, such as retail stores, parks, and nightlife.
If you opt for traditional off-campus apartment living alone or with roommates, you’re free to choose your own comfortable furnishings. You may even be lucky enough to have an outdoor space for private lounging. Furniture rental is a simple solution for furnishing an apartment, and CORT Furniture Rental works with off-campus student communities across the country to deliver and set up furniture for busy students who opt for independent living.
5. You Can Stay Put
Once you taste the freedom of living off-campus, you may not ever want to live any differently. In most cases, you can choose to stay put when summer rolls around instead of facing a stressful search for interim housing or returning home to live with parents. If you’re leasing in an off-campus community, Browning says you will most likely have the option to renew your lease before it’s snatched away by a non-resident.
The biggest perk of living off-campus is the life experience you will gain from living independently. Fortunately, companies like CORT are on hand to help make this particular life step as simple as possible.