College Dorms vs. Apartments: Which is Better

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Living in a college dorm can be a quintessential college experience, but is it suitable for everyone? A dorm can be immensely overwhelming, so some students opt to instead live in an apartment near campus. This choice can seem like a big decision, but we’re here to help break it down into smaller and more manageable chunks.

In this article, we’ll be giving you the tools to help decide if you should live in a dorm or in an apartment. We’ll be discussing everything from the costs to the significant differences and even breaking down the pros and cons of each living arrangement. If you are confused about where you should live, just keep reading to gain the tools you need to help make your choice.

Is it Better to Live in an Apartment or Dorm in College?Is it Better to Live in an Apartment or Dorm in College?

The answer to this question might be more complicated than you think. There are lots of factors to consider when choosing between living in an apartment and living in a dorm. In general, you’ll want to consider your needs and how the space will meet those needs.

Another thing you’ll want to take into account when picking where to live is what year in school you are in. If you are entering your freshman year of college, many schools recommend that you live in the dorms to help build a stronger sense of community. If you are not a freshman but choose between dorms and apartments, you really need to consider all the differences.

Are College Dorms Cheaper Than Apartments?

Are College Dorms Cheaper Than Apartments?

At first glance, it might seem like living in a college dorm is always cheaper than living in an apartment because you have so many more extra costs in an apartment, such as utilities, wifi, and trash pick-up, just to name a few. This isn’t, however, always the case. Depending on the school you go to and the school’s geographic location, apartments or dorms can be cheaper.

Overall, living in dorms is cheaper in schools located in urban centers since these areas tend to have high rent prices and costly groceries. Many suburban schools and rural schools have found that living in apartments, either owned by the school or not owned by the school, is cheaper than living in the dorms, simply because the cost of rent is much lower here than in many major cities.

There is no one answer to this question that will apply to every school, so you’ll really need to do your research for the school that you will be attending. Make sure you consider the baseline cost of rent, any food-related expenses, and all extra costs, like parking or utilities, when trying to figure out which one will be cheaper for you.

What are the Pros and Cons of Living in an Apartment vs. a Dorm?

What are the Pros and Cons of Living in an Apartment vs. a Dorm?

There are tons of potential pros and cons of living in either an apartment or a dorm, but we’ll try to sum them all up for you here!



1. More to pay attention to

Since you’ll be the one paying the monthly rent, the utility bill, the wifi bill, and any other bills that are associated with your apartment, there can be a lot to pay attention to. If this is the first time, you’ve lived away from your parents, living in an apartment can be really overwhelming, especially at first.

2. Less connection to campus

Since you aren’t living in close proximity to everyone else in your year, you may not feel as much of a sense of connection to your campus as you would if you lived in a dorm. This can also make it harder to you to make friends since you will not necessarily live around others who go to school with you.

3. More upfront cost to get set up

When you move into a dorm, the furniture is all there. That is not the case with an apartment. When you move into an apartment, you will be responsible for purchasing everything from the bed you sleep on to the plates you eat off of. This upfront cost can be pretty daunting.


1. More privacy

An apartment is your own space that you can shape to make you feel however you want. Living in an apartment gives you so much more privacy than living in a dorm could ever provide you. This can be both relaxing and freeing, especially when compared to the rigidity of a college dorm.

2. More freedom

Nobody is telling you how to do anything in an apartment! For some people, this is amazing. If you really are ready to move out and rent your own apartment, this freedom can be precisely what you need to craft the life you want to live.

3. Control over your diet

Since you won’t be on a meal plan and will be required to cook for yourself in an apartment, you have total control over your diet. This means that you can cook whatever you want, whenever you want it. Just make sure you eat some vegetables!



1. Lack of privacy

Since you’ll be living in a hall with lots of people and most likely sharing a room with someone else, living in a dorm can really minimize your privacy. For some people, this is an easy adjustment, but others really struggle with the constant social atmosphere of a dorm.

2. Small space

Dorms aren’t known for being very big, so you should expect your dorm room to be relatively small. If you happen to get a big dorm room, you should consider yourself lucky since most dorm rooms just fit the furniture they come with and have minimal extra floor space.

3. Potentially quite loud

As we’ve said before, Dorms are in halls with lots of people. This means that someone is almost always awake and active. If you are someone who needs total quiet to sleep, you may have a rough adjustment to living in a dorm, where near-constant noise can be a norm.


1. Built-in social circle

Dorms are a great place to live for your social life. Since there are so many people in close proximity, you are likely to find tons of new friends. This can really make a dorm feel like home very quickly.

2. Great support system

Dorms have dorm leaders, typically called residential assistants or RAs, who are there to help you out. If you are struggling with a professor or having roommate problems, they are there to help you adjust to the new environment. Having this built-in support system can be super helpful to many students.

3. Little to no monthly bills to stress over and remember

The bills for dorm living are typically paid once per semester and include everything from the rent to the wifi and utilities. As a dorm resident, this means that you have very few things to worry about throughout the year. This can really minimize the amount of stress that you have to worry about during college.

College Dorm vs. Apartments: Which One Should You Choose?

College Dorm vs. Apartments: Which One Should You Choose?

The best way to choose it is to analyze your personal situation. You should look at everything from what your school recommends to the cost of living in a dorm versus living in an apartment. You should also take some time to think about your living habits and if they are likely to fit better with a dorm or apartment.

If you are someone who is very forgetful and might miss bill payments, perhaps a dorm is the best fit for you. On the other hand, if you like your own space and aren’t worried about making friends because you can do that on your own without the help of a dorm, perhaps an apartment is best for you.

Another thing to look at when you are trying to decide is if there are apartments available near your school. If you look online and can’t find any apartments that are at a reasonable price and are a reasonable distance from school, the choice might be made for you. Sometimes, even if your school doesn’t require you to live in dorms, living in the dorms really becomes the only option that you have.

Wrapping Things Up: College Dorms vs. Apartments

Overall, picking between a dorm and an apartment can seem overwhelming, but it really isn’t that bad if you simplify it into a few things to compare. Make sure you think about your living style, the overall price, the availability of each, and what your school recommends. When you weigh all of these variables, you should be able to come to a good conclusion for yourself.

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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