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Should I Live on Campus or in an Apartment?

Should I Live on Campus or in an Apartment?

On-campus dorm or off-campus apartment? When you’re in college, it can be tough to decide. How do you decide between an apartment or dorm freshman year? What’s the best decision for a senior picking their final year of housing? No matter which stage of university you’re in, this guide will help you compare the pros and cons of college housing options.

Apartment Vs. Dorm Cost

On-Campus Dorms:

Living on campus often comes with more simplified costs. Meal plans can be bundled into the overall cost, offering convenience and predictability in your budget. Other expenses like utilities and furniture are usually included in one price. If you have a scholarship or financial aid, these funds may also be applied towards these living expenses to help make them cheaper.

Additionally, you may be able to work as a residential assistant (also known as an “RA”) to get reduced-price or free housing.

Off-Campus Apartments:

Sometimes, off-campus housing is cheaper than on-campus dorms because there isn’t as much included in the price. Your apartment may not include utilities or furnishings, and you may be unable to apply financial aid to your rent. Financial responsibility often plays a bigger role when living off-campus. Managing your budget for rent, food, bills, and other necessities will need to be a priority.

However, you will have more flexibility when choosing your internet plan, picking out your furniture, and decorating. You also won’t be tied to a meal plan, so you can choose your groceries and cook your own meals for potential long-term savings.


On-Campus Dorms:

If you live on campus, transportation is simple: you can just walk or ride a bike (or scooter, or skateboard, or whatever your preferred method of transportation is) to class, the dining hall, and the library.

On-campus living is centrally located and straightforward. Plus, many larger colleges and universities offer free buses for students so they can better access far corners of campus quickly and easily.

Off-Campus Apartments:

Off-campus apartments may require additional planning for transportation to school, work, and other places like grocery stores. Getting a bike may be convenient, or you may be able to find an apartment that’s close to the campus bus route. If not, you may need to rely on your own personal vehicle to get to and from class each day or carpool with roommates.


On-Campus Dorms:

Most on-campus housing includes amenities such as laundry facilities, kitchens, and common rooms that you can use for studying and hanging out with friends. Even though they aren’t always included in your individual room, community amenities add value. Plus, if your dorm has communal bathrooms and showers, you don’t have to worry about cleaning them yourself!

Off-Campus Apartments:

Off-campus apartments tend to have more amenities in the units themselves. These include full kitchens, in-unit laundry, and private bathrooms. You may even have your own bathroom that you don’t share with a roommate. Some apartments may also have communal amenities, like a gym and pool.

Social Opportunities

On-Campus Dorms:

Living in a dorm vs apartment means you’re surrounded by opportunities to meet new people, attend events, and socialize. Dorm events, clubs, on-campus movie nights, and more are at your disposal. You can do as much (or as little) as you have time for whenever you aren’t in class.

Off-Campus Apartments:

Living off-campus may separate you from the on-campus community. That doesn’t mean you’re excluded, but you will have to work a little harder to stay as involved. With that said, living off campus comes with some serious social benefits, as well.

When you move off campus, you will have more control over choosing your roommates, ensuring you can get together with friends to rent an apartment. Additionally, living off campus often opens you up to betting hosting opportunities without visitor restrictions and quiet hours of dorm living. However, it’s still important to respect your roommates and fellow tenants.

Convenience and Lifestyle

On-Campus Dorms:

Living in a dorm is all about convenience. Being close to resources like the library, your classes, and events on campus puts the full college experience right at your fingertips. If you’re interested in being deeply involved in the college social scene, living on campus can be a great option.

Off-Campus Apartments:

When you live off campus, you may be more disconnected from the hubbub of campus life. That’s not always a bad thing, though. Off-campus living can offer more privacy and peace if you’re more interested in focusing on your studies, working, or keeping a peaceful space.

If this sounds like your pace, you might wonder: can you live off-campus freshman year? It depends on your school’s policy – some require freshmen to live in a dorm, but others let you decide for yourself.

Rent-A-Center Makes College Housing Feel Like Home

No matter which option you choose—living on campus or in an apartment—Rent-A-Center offers a wide selection of bedroom, living room, laundry room, dining room, and entertainment options to make your space feel like home.

Whether you’re looking for furniture, appliances, or electronics, we have everything you need to create a comfortable and functional living space. Plus, with free delivery and flexible payment options, you don’t have to worry about a stressful moving day along the way. Shop online or at your nearest Rent-A-Center today.

About Us

The good things in life don’t have to be out of reach. Rent-A-Center is here to make the things you want and need accessible, and Front & Center is your resource for living well on a budget.

Each week, we’ll bring you tips and tricks for infusing simplicity, style—even a little fun—into every aspect of your life and home. From decorating advice to money-saving strategies to opportunities to share with others like you, we’ll give you ideas that inspire. Live well, friends. And send your submissions, suggestions and questions for the blog to blog@rentacenter.com. For all customer service inquiries, please contact our Solution Center team at 1-800-422-8186.