The Grass is Greener on the Other Side of the Quad: Living Off-Campus
By Ariana Finlayson
April 21, 2009
My friends and I all lived on campus during my first year of college. It was great! I loved having what felt like my own little village of my favorite people. Dinner? Let’s meet at the clock tower at 7 p.m.! Who wants pizza at 2 a.m.? Make the call to Papa John’s!
During my sophomore year, a few people moved off campus. They were still within walking distance—in fact, some had a shorter walk to class than some of the resident students. By junior year, though, more friends moved. Now in my senior year, the only friends I have left on campus are my resident assistant (RA) friends.
Aside from being an RA, I never had the urge to look into off-campus housing. Sure, living in a house with your best friends while having a living room, full-sized kitchen and a private bathroom did seem like a lot of fun, but I knew I’d get bored of it eventually.
My friends moved off campus for a variety of reasons. Some moved because the rooms on campus were too small and they wanted the ability to choose with whom they would live. Others moved because it was cheaper or because they were tired of being hassled by the — gasp! — RAs! Some did it for a change of scenery.
I suggest that you live on campus your first year, hands down. If you have the opportunity to live in the residence halls, do it! I can’t stress this enough: It will make your transition to college so much easier.
If you find yourself looking across the quad and into more spacious pastures, keep these things in mind:
1. The house bills will have to go in someone’s name. Be cautious before deciding what to put your name on, especially since a late payment can mess up your credit. My boyfriend’s housemate is in charge of the electricity bill, but a few housemates couldn’t come up with the money for it — and the bill is still overdue!
2. Keeping a house clean is a lot more to maintain than keeping your room clean. You’d have a lot more hands to pitch in, but what happens when someone doesn’t keep up their end of the bargain? You can tell yourself that you won’t allow a mess to build up, but take my best friend. She did all the dishes in the beginning, and then got spiteful after awhile because no one helped out. Now no one does the dishes, and the sink smells terrible.
3. You can’t control who comes in and out. If you share a room, you may be familiar with who’s coming into your room. But once you add up to five other people in a house, it equals a lot of unknown guests. My boyfriend put a knob lock on his door, just in case.
Besides those three points, there’s also the process of finding a place, signing a lease, living out the lease, sub-letting for summer, and dealing with landlords.
Either place you choose, you’ll definitely have a ton of fun. My boyfriend with the five housemates loves his living situation, even when times are hard and he’s stuck taking out the trash—again. My best friend improved her situation immensely when she called a “house meeting” to address concerns.
If you do decide to live off-campus, remember what you learned from sharing your dorm with someone else: Always communicate your concerns with your housemates so small issues don’t blow up into bigger ones over time.