So you have decided on the program and university of interest. The next big decision to make is whether you should live on or off campus. Living on or off campus can change your university life drastically. How do you decide which one is best for you? The choice depends on the individual factors. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer here.
1. Convenience and Cost
How long are you willing to commute to campus? Within short walking distance or ? Generally, on-campus accommodation is within walking distance or there will be free shuttle buses to get you around. Living on campus allow you to sleep in and for classes. However, if you were to live off campus , you will have to figure out a way to campus, finding parking spots, longer commutes and traffic jams. Most international students do not own a car and have to rely on public transportation which can be a hassle.
Living on campus allows you to fully utilize facilities such as the gym, library, computer lab, and so on. Utilities such as Wi-Fi, water and electricity are included and your room is fully furnished and often times it comes with an air conditioner. There is not much to worry about other than unpack and decorate your room. However, living off campus requires a lot more responsibilities. You will have to deal with your landlord, get your own internet and pay for your own utilities. Most off campus accommodation does not come fully-furnished. These are some of the extra expenses that can add up.
Next is the food options. Although there may be cafeteria and restaurants on campus, your food options are limited. Most on campus accommodation does not come with a full kitchen and you can only prepare your fancy meal with a microwave or on hot plates. Living off campus on the other hand allows you more food and freedom to make your own meals.
Most campuses have 24/7 security guards on duty and they are available with a quick call. Students will also have access to nurse and basic medical services on campus. This safety feature does not necessarily come with an off campus accommodation.
Another security factor is on rent payment. An apartment complex or your landlord may not be as flexible when it comes to paying rent. If your student loan is late, will you be given extra time to pay rent? On campus accommodation on the other hand is generally more understanding in this sense.
3. Social Life
One of the many perks of living on campus is that you will be living in the complex as most of your new classmates and people your age. This makes it easier for you make friends. Living on campus also means that you are more likely able to attend all, if not most of the activities on campus - another great way to form new connections.
In contrast, living outside campus grounds would expose you to interacting with people that are not just your university friends or age group. Depending on your social skills, you will befriend someone from the park, someone who goes to the same grocery store as you or even a working housemate (that is if you’re sharing an apartment). There is no limit as to who you can interact with.
Privacy may be an issue if you were to live on campus. you might have to share a room with at least one person. Don’t forget the communal bathrooms…
For most students, roommates can be an issue both on and off campus. You cannot choose your roommate on campus. you may be able to choose your roommates off campus or at least will have some options before signing the contact.
Unless of course if you can afford a single room with non-sharing bathroom for yourself then you don’t have to deal with your roommate eating while you are trying to sleep, or your roommate talking on the phone while you are trying to study. You can’t control what happens along the hallway though.
Having your own personal private space is definitely one of the biggest perks of living off campus. Having your own room means you get to have more privacy, comfort and minimal distractions. Your room is your ultimate zen space after spending a long day on campus. Having your own personal space also means you do not have to deal with roommates with weird habits that could potentially give you a headache. You can also study in peace without getting distracted.
Yes, there are curfews and rules if you were to live on campus. You are required to obey an extensive list of rules. You have to be back in your room by a certain hour. Often times, there is a separation between gender and you may not have a friend of the opposite gender in your room. You are also not allowed to put a nail or draw on the wall. These rules may sound ridiculous to some but these strict policies are often to protect you and provide you with a safer environment to live in.
You are not restricted to any rules when you choose to live off campus. You are free to come back at any time and can invite friends over to your place. If you dislike being micromanaged, then off campus is definitely the best choice for you.
So which one is better?
Take a few moments to decipher your needs. Using the information above, try to draw the pros and cons of living on or off campus for yourself. You should be able to decide what makes sense to you the most based on your individual preferences.
Here are some TL;DR questions you should ask yourself:
We typically advise students to live on campus for at least the first 1 or 2 semesters. It is a great way to make new friends and they could be your next off campus roommates. Additionally, it allows you to get familiarize living in a new country or new city, and culture.