5 Things to Consider Before Moving Off Campus

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Dorm or Apartment or House? Which to Choose?

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 Moving into the dorm is the first step of college life. Even before classes begin or sports teams start playing, dorm life is in full swing as students meet roommates and set up home in their new quarters. After a year - or maybe more - of dorm life, many students are ready to make the move to apartment or free-standing home life, depending on where they go to school and what's available. If you're not sure what to do next, consider these factors of living off campus.

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More Responsibility

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Living in a dorm, there is very little that students need to worry about. Meal plans are the norm, and preparing food is not really possible in a dorm room, other than the occasional microwaveable meal. Bathrooms are cleaned regularly, toilet paper is replenished, light bulbs replaced and maintenance taken care of by staff. Apartments offer maintenance and repairs, but food preparation is up to you. Single family homes often need more care than apartments, with renters finding themselves responsible for everything from shoveling snow to unclogging toilets. Be honest with yourself about how much work you want to do to maintain a home while in school. You may find that dorm life suits you better. 

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More Privacy

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 There's no doubt that living in an apartment or a single family home will offer much more privacy than living in a dorm. If you are lucky, you may even have your own bathroom. Apartments and single family homes are much more spacious and can be personalized with furniture, rugs, accessories and artwork to make them feel far more cozy and inviting than a standard dorm room. If you have your own room - which is one of the main reasons many choose to move off campus - then you will have your own personal space as well - which for some people is a huge plus.

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More Expenses

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Dorms come equipped with pretty much everything you need to live a functional and comfortable life. Beds, dressers, closets (albeit tiny ones), heating and air conditioning are standard in most dorms. Moving into an apartment or house means a lot of spending on basic necessities, including a sofa, a table where you can eat meals, a decent bed and storage for clothing. Not to mention outfitting a kitchen with everything from pots and pans to salt and pepper. If you are sharing with roommates, the expenses can be distributed, making it a little easier to afford, but there is still a substantial out-of-pocket cost to setting up a home, no matter how temporary it may be. Looking for a furnished apartment may be an economical and easy option. 

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Less Socializing

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Once you are living off campus, you may find it harder to connect with people on a daily basis. Dorm and dining hall life allow for a lot of daily interaction on a casual basis with other students. Living on campus encourages you to stay on campus to study, socialize and stay in the loop of activities, parties, and more. For some, living off campus is the right choice precisely to get away from those distractions or unwanted social interactions, but for others losing that daily activity can be lonely and difficult. Think hard about two things - how much you enjoy being among the busyness of other people's lives, and also how much you need to be among others to keep your social life going. Some people are far more outgoing than others, and for them living off campus is no problem - but for those who are more introverted, off campus housing can really get in the way of their personal connections. 

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Less Collegiate

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Some go to college to live the full "college experience," partaking in every football game, joining clubs and study groups, rushing fraternities and sororities and staying socially active from start to finish. For other people, college is more about achieving a goal of graduating with as little debt and as high a GPA as possible. Depending on your lifestyle, your life plans and your financial situation, putting a little distance between yourself and the college environment can be a good thing - or it can be a big mistake. Some schools encourage on campus living for four years, while others don't have the room to house anyone but freshmen. Look closely at this information when deciding where to go to school - you will know in your gut what is best for you.

Updated by Sharon Greenthal