Live Off Campus or On? Which is Better and Why?

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Are you a graduating senior who needs to decide whether to live on or off campus? Are you wondering if, financially, one is better than the other? If either of these questions has been on your mind, we are here to help you conclude.

College is an exciting time in a young person’s life. It is a time when students find lifelong friends, figure out what they want to do, and learn more about themselves. However, believe it or not, where you choose to reside may significantly impact your experience. Though some situations may force your hand if you have the option to decide, choose wisely.

As you read, you will find more information on the reality of campus life, how many people roughly choose to study and live in the same place, and so much more. All you have to do to get this information is to keep reading.

Do Most Students Live On or Off Campus?Do Most Students Live On or Off Campus?

As you can probably imagine, the COVID-19 pandemic has considerably influenced college housing. While some students may be eager to get back to “normal life,” others may be apprehensive or still deal with the effects that two years in isolation may have caused. No matter where you stand in this matter, the choice is ultimately yours to make.

With the increase in rent pricing, some off-campus housing may be harder to find; however, only time will tell if that stops students from making the jump. While many students opted to stay home during the pandemic even though some institutions remained open, vaccines are giving students and parents a newfound hope.

Before determining if the decision is yours, you will need to determine whether or not your school requires you to live on campus for a certain amount of time. Contrary to popular belief, some students are required to live on campus during their first year or their entire college tenure. However, this depends on the institution.

Checking with your desired institution is a great way to measure how many students live on and off campus. US News has also provided an updated listing of the percentages of students living on campus by university.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Living On Campus

Advantages and Disadvantages of Living On Campus

Several things come to your mind when you think about living in a dorm vs. off campus. These are things that we will hopefully address in the coming sections. However, to fully understand the benefits of each housing type, you must also understand the disadvantages as well.

The Pros of Living on Campus

Closer proximity to class and university events

Living on campus allows students to experience college life truly. It will enable them to have the polarized experience that you may see on television or in movies—fully equipped with RAs, Greek life, events, and college housing. Living on campus allows them to meet students they may not have, gain a deeper connection to the university, and utilize the amenities they pay for. Students feel more connected to their university and peers when living on campus. There is also always something going on. College campuses are buzzing morning, noon, and night with people, events, and life.

When living on campus, you also don’t need to a lot for the extra time getting to and from class. Parking may also be an issue when you don’t live on campus. Some students say finding a park may take 30 extra minutes before class.


Generally, most colleges recommend that incoming first-year students do not have cars on campus, and many are not allowed to. College transportation is included in your tuition and is a saving grace for most first-year students. Generally, college bus systems will transport students to places like the downtown of their city, popular restaurant areas, shopping, and more. These buses are specifically for students and go to the most important places that a college student would need. The first and last stop for these busses is generally the college campus. These services may not be as effective for students when not living on campus.

Campus Amenities

Another great thing that students miss out on when living off campus is the campus amenities. Campuses offer a host of things that students generally would need to look elsewhere to find. These include outdoor study spaces, campus dining, the library, computer labs, and even gym facilities. Campuses may also periodically host impromptu events and giveaways, which you may not be able to take advantage of if living elsewhere. That fifteen-minute drive and the search for parking may not be worth it.

The Cons of Living on Campus

Housing Restrictions and Unavailability

One thing that students may not like about living on campus is that there will be rules, much like at home. Some campuses have restrictions on the things that students can bring or possess while living in on-campus housing. This may include things as simple as a griddle or as severe as alcohol. Some campuses will have a status of wet or dry. This designation determines if you can have alcohol on campus. Some dorms may also have curfews to adhere to. This may also depend on the type of housing you live in. Things like quiet hours also exist to ensure that students are not excessively socializing and not getting their schoolwork done.


Cost for some may also be a reason to forego the on-campus experience. Being an off-campus student dramatically differs from the cost of on-campus housing. However, it is a crucial decision to make. This could have a massive impact on the number of student loans you may need to take and ultimately repay in the future.

Limited Privacy/Community Restrooms

One thing that you will not have a lot of while living on a college campus is privacy. Aside from your roommate, depending on your chosen room, you may also use a community bathroom. This may mean taking your showers and bathroom breaks in bathrooms set up for multiple individuals and, sometimes, locker room style. Though this can be a downside, some dorms, usually meant for honors students or higher levels, offer private baths. It all will depend on your chosen institution.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Living Off Campus

Advantages and Disadvantages of Living Off Campus

Now that we have explored some of the pros and cons of living on campus, it is only right to look at the other side. You may think living off campus may be a better option. We will help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of living off campus.

The Pros

Increased Privacy

One thing about living off campus is that the space you pay for is solely yours unless you decide to have roommates. Your amenities will be just for you. You won’t have to share a bathroom or strategically plan your day around when the showers are the least crowded. You also won’t need to wear shower shoes.

More Space

Another major advantage to living off campus has more actual living space. Unlike a dorm room, you will now have the luxury of family separate living spaces. Your bedroom no longer has to be the same place you have meals, relax and study.

Fewer Distractions

Living off campus may also mean fewer distractions. You won’t have constant noise from campus events or crowded living spaces. If you are not someone who enjoys the bustling liveliness of living on campus, this may be a better option.

The Cons

More Responsibility

Living off campus, however, does come with more responsibility. You will now have the luxury of doing all of the maintenance and upkeep of your space. You will need to make sure that you or your maintenance department handles any repairs. This may include things like cutting grass, minor repairs, and more.

Commute Times

Commuting may also be a hassle depending on your campus. Students will often need to pay for parking passes and give themselves ample time to find parking. Though a once short walk to class, you may need to account for where student parking is allowed and rush hour traffic for certain communities.

The leasing Calendar is not consistent with your school calendar.

Your leasing calendar is not your school calendar. Though you may get out of school at once, you will still be liable to pay rent and maintain your apartment until your lease’s end. This may be an issue if you need to move for things like internships or jobs. You will then need to check in with your management office to see if subletting would be an option.

3 Things to Consider Before You Decide to Live Off and On Campus

3 Things to Consider Before You Decide to Live Off and On Campus

Before making the jump in either direction, consider these three important things. These are great things to think about when you are on the fence and looking for some information to push you over the edge.

Usually, Students Living On Campus Do Better

Students who live on campus generally fare better than students living off campus. There are several resources at their fingertips, just a short walk away. From computer labs to tutoring resources to printers, if a student is not doing well or just looking for support, several options are available. Students living off-campus may have a harder time getting to these resources.

Life is Expensive; Make Sure You Are Considering Everything

Life is expensive. Though you may not be thinking about it now, gas, food, and overall maintenance cost money. You won’t necessarily need to worry about these things if you live on campus. You will need to weigh the costs of student housing with the general expenses surrounding life outside of school, including the economy’s consistent inflation.

Does That Mean More to You?

Seriously think about all the things you will get from each decision. What is most important for you? Do not let your friends or family sway you. They are not the ones that have to live through the experience. Let this decision be one that is purely selfish and based on logic.

Should You Live On or Off Campus?

Should You Live On or Off Campus?

The clock is ticking! Now that you have read some pros and cons, it is time to make the decision! Will you live off campus or on?

Psych! We don’t want to scare you. You still have time to make the best and most informed decision for yourself. You will need to look entirely into your own heart, wallet, and personal life to understand which option is best for you. Don’t be afraid or swayed by what your friends are saying. Do what you know will help you be a better student and worker.

Wrapping Things Up: Live Off Campus or On? Which is Better and Why?

We hope we have helped you understand your options better and make a decision that works for you. You may still be wondering, is it cheaper to live on or off campus? However, only you can answer that. You know your lifestyle and what things are essential to you. Living on campus allows you the flexibility to participate in as much or as little as possible. You will get the opportunity to meet other students and attend lots of campus events. However, living off campus jumpstarts your life into adulthood. You have more privacy, more space, and at times more peace.

Whichever route you decide to go, we hope it’s the right decision for you.

Check out our ultimate college dorm essentials checklist to make sure you’ve got everything you need when you move into your new living space.

> College Dorms vs. Apartments: Which is Better

> Is a Dorm or an Apartment Cheaper for Students?

> Pros and Cons of Living in College Dorms

> What is a College Dorm Like?

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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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