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Dorm Life vs Off Campus Apartments

Whether you’re a freshman eager to begin the next phase of your education at a new university, or a returning student wondering what you should choose for housing this year, this post will help you decide whether you want to stick with dorm life or find affordable off campus apartments to rent.

More people are renting now than ever. In a survey recently created by Trulia, the number of households in the United States that rent (as opposed to buy) went up from 36.1% (2006) to 41.1% (2014). Also in 2014, 71.6% of these renters were Millennials. But just because others are renting, that doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to do it. It’s a difficult decision to make, one that can shape your education experience.

Campus Dorms Pros

The main benefit of living on campus is the location. Being on campus, around all of your fellow students, near enough to classes and the cafeteria to walk easily, does make college seem easier, especially in the beginning. It’s easier to get to class on time and to stick to a structure when you are around so many other fellow students. It’s also nice to be around all of the events and activities and chances to socialize.

When living in the dorms, you are also not responsible for any of the upkeep, security, or maintenance of your rooms, which means you can focus on your friends and studies without worrying about the responsibilities that come with renting or living on your own (though you will have to learn eventually).

Campus Dorms Cons

There are quite a few cons to dorm life. The roommate (who may or may not be bearable to live with), the rules and restrictions (all telling you what you can and cannot do in your room), and the adults and supervisors looking over your shoulder making sure you follow the rules all mean that living in a dorm doesn’t have the same feeling as living on your own, under your own control. You are also restricted to a single room, rather than having a whole apartment to yourself.

Off Campus Apartments Pros

Now we’ll look at the benefits of off campus living. One of the main benefits is privacy. Though you can choose to share an apartment with roommates, you are not forced to, which means you can have a place to retreat and relax after a long day of classes. This can give your college experience a much better atmosphere.

Living off campus also gives you the option of having pets. Unlike dorm living, there are man pet friendly student housing options, so if you have a dog or a cat and want to include them in your college life, the choice is simple.

As for location (which, if you’ll remember, was the main benefit of living in campus dorms) you can also easily find off campus apartments that are near enough to campus to make no difference. A ten minute walk isn’t that much better than a fifteen minute walk. So I would say the two options are a wash in that area. However, being slightly away from campus means you are close to the rest of town, and have a slight advantage after you graduate and are ready to begin your job search, because you won’t have to waste time moving out of the dorms and finding an apartment to rent. You also have all of the experience of living on your own, which will help you in life after college.

Off Campus Apartments Cons

Now for the cons: off campus apartments have the potential of being slightly more expensive, depending on your school’s policy on dorm rent. You will also be expected to be responsible for your apartment and your life without university staff looking over your shoulder. You won’t be able to call security or the RD if something goes wrong. But the added freedom, life skills, and renting experience surely makes up for these slight drawbacks.


It largely depends on your lifestyle and educational goals. There are some benefits to living in a dorm, but they are far outweighed by the benefits of living off-campus in an affordable apartment, where you can more easily make the transition to adult life after you graduate.

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