As soon as you decide to attend a university, one of the first questions that arise is: Where would you live? What housing options do you have? There are three clear options: live at home (if you are a local), live at the dorms, or rent an off campus apartment. This article will make a brief, but a complete comparison of the dorm and apartment options. Let the dorm vs apartment debate start…
Dorm vs Apartment Comparison
Cost – Make sure your pick is within your budget
Never pick an option that you cannot afford. Start by doing some research and see which fits your budget. Ask for the dorm prices and also get a few quotes from apartments. Then, account for the hidden costs. Yes, there are a few hidden costs that are usually overlooked:
- Apartments: Estimate costs of utilities, convenience fees, and any additional charges attached to the base rent. Depending on the location, you might need to buy a campus parking pass. Also, account for extra gas or transportation expenses.
- Dorms: Even though the dorm prices are fixed, and in most cases, all utilities and fees are included, there are a few hidden fees. Some student housing options are not open for the whole year. They close during winter break or summer. Remember to calculate the price based on a monthly basis. Also, if you have to move out of the dorms during those breaks, consider associated costs and additional planning.
Location and Distance from Campus
Dorms have a strategic location. They are located right on campus. You can make it to class even if you wake up late, and all the resources on campus are close to you (tutoring, library, career services, office hours, free gym, etc.). If you have a long break during classes, you can always stop by your room and take a nap or a break in your own space. When you are done with classes for the day, the dorms are just right there. No need to drive.
Even though dorms offer you a great campus location, apartments also offer competitive locations. It is an excellent opportunity to discover the city where you will be living in. Asses what is the maximum distance you are willing to commute. Then, within a predefined radius, explore the different neighborhoods. You can find a community that fits your personality.
Rules and Regulations
When living on campus, generally, you must follow more rules. Since you are living on campus, you have to follow the student manual and do not break any university rules. Many university rules relate to alcohol, smoking, and guests. A “dry campus” does not allow alcohol. Even if it is in a close container or if you are legally able to drink. Also, some universities do not allow public smoking; they have designated “smoking areas.” During my university studies, I lived on campus. I enjoyed the experience, but always had trouble with one of the rules. The dorms only allowed overnight guests for two consecutive nights. As an out of state student, I was thrilled to welcome my family and friends, and I wish I could offer them a free place to stay.
Apartment living has fewer rules. Most apartments only just have basic regulations such as noise levels, behavior in public areas, and property damage. Even though apartments are more lenient in regards to rules, they do not offer the support that you might get on campus. If you lose your keys or need repairs, complaining to an apartment manager can be difficult.
Roommates – One, multiple, or none
Would you need to have roommates in either of your options? Well, here is a bit of advice:
- Dorms: living with a roommate is difficult, especially small spaces. Dorm rooms tend to have a small footprint, and sometimes only offer community bathroom options. If you are living with someone, make sure to get to know them and set up some mutual agreements to make your life easier, and prevent any arguments. Also, consider the single room options. When you live on campus, you already have plenty of opportunities to engage with your peers. Therefore, having your own room can be a great private place just for you and your guests.
- Apartment: apartments usually have a bigger footprint, but in most cases, you still need roommates. If it is your first year, try to pick an apartment that only makes you liable for your share of the rent. Since you do not know many people yet, it would be easier if the apartment facility groups you with other students and charges you rent for a “room” within the apartment. Otherwise, try to convince your close friends to get an apartment together. It is a fun experience that I would highly recommend. Yes, you might have some initial arguments. But you will learn more about each other and can let your friendship grow.
When you explore housing options, university representatives might tell you about the correlation between academic performance and housing. Many schools have done long term research on the GPAs of students living on-campus and off-campus students. The overall trends correlate higher GPAs to on-campus living. Also, most studies realize that the majority of students living on-campus are freshmen or sophomores. You have to make a personal assessment and think if living off-campus might distract you too much. Low academic performance during the first semesters of college can discourage students and even increase dropout rates.
The Full Experience: Dorm vs Apartment
Some people say that only if you live in the dorms, you will get a full college experience. I wouldn’t fully agree with that argument. I experienced both on-campus and off-campus living. Both experiences were positive. Many off-campus options are close enough to let you experience the full college life and take advantage of campus resources. Also, if you are willing to commute, you can always be involved in campus activities. I hope this article helped in your dorm vs apartment decision.