The beauty of college is that there are usually several different options for living quarters while you’re attending school for 9 months out of the year. Every student has a different preference for where they want to live while at college, and some universities may even require students to live on campus for their first year or until a certain age.
Whether you live at home or you live on campus, there are a few things to consider before you make the leap to signing a lease for your own apartment. Your first dorm and your first apartment are both milestones of their own, so take a minute and consider the following notions before you head off campus your sophomore year.
1. More responsibility and more freedom
Depending on the type of dorm you live in, you might not have to juggle a whole lot of responsibilities. In many dorms, bathrooms are cleaned regularly, new toilet paper is refilled, and typical maintenance items are taken care of by the staff. When you live in a dorm, most students also tend to be on meal plans and have easy access to cafes and other college eateries. When you live in an apartment, you will more than likely have your maintenance items taken care of, but you’ll be on your own for cleaning and cooking. If you decide to rent a house, you might find yourself responsible for a whole host of things, including mowing the grass and unclogging the toilet. These certainly aren’t negative things, but it’s smart to think through them before you move.
A pro of living in an apartment is that you’ll more than likely have more freedom. You won’t have to abide by your dorm’s rules of no burning candles or visitors during certain hours or taping things to the wall instead of nailing in picture frames. Renting your own apartment means you have a little more say in the look and feel of your space and how you want to function within it.
2. Sense of community
When you live in a dorm, you’re more than likely doing a lot of sharing. You might share a bathroom, you might study in the same space, and you’ll be sleeping in the same room with at least one or more roommates. Dorm life comes with a very strong sense of community, and even before classes get going, dorm life is usually in full swing for students when they return to college in August.
That’s not to say that you’ll lose your community when you move off campus, but instead of sharing a hall with 25 other students, you’ll be sharing an apartment with only a trusted friend or two—or you might even live by yourself! Think about if you are truly ready for more time to yourself or if you would benefit by being more ingrained in dorm community a year or two longer.
Depending on your situation, you might find yourself with a financial aid package that includes some room and board allotment. You also might find that your dorm room comes equipped with furniture like beds, dressers, desks, and potentially a table, lamps, or a sofa if you’re lucky. When you move into an apartment, it’s important to take into consideration that you’ll more than likely be purchasing all these furniture items to fill your new space. You’ll also be in charge of outfitting a kitchen and decorating as well.
You can shop garage sales or look on Craigslist if you’re in need of inexpensive furniture fast, and most colleges have online marketplaces on Facebook where students might be selling furniture for a discounted rate. If you are sharing an apartment with a roommate, it’s helpful to split costs for furniture items or make a plan for who is going to bring what.
4. Your college experience
At the end of the day, what’s important is that you’re making healthy and wise decisions for yourself. If you’re looking for a very classic college experience, then living in a dorm room with a roommate or two and participating in all the dorm life activities that come with that might be a good choice for you. If you’re looking for a more non-traditional experience, consider living off campus!