Advantages and Disadvantages to Off Campus Apartments

Before you jump to the conclusion that off campus apartments are better than on campus dorms, you’ll need to consider the pros and cons of both options. While off campus housing may offer more freedom, it may also entail more cost and inconvenience. When you’re on campus, the campus resources are all relatively nearby, definitely within walking distance from your dorm. Consider the following advantages and disadvantages to off campus living before you make your final decision.

Advantages to Off Campus Living

Off campus apartments definitely provide more freedom than on campus dorms. You’ll not be held to the restrictions and rules that those on campus need to follow, and you’ll also have the option to use your interior decorating skills to make your apartment your home. And if you prefer home cooking, you’ll be able to plan and make your own meals, rather than visit the campus dining hall. Now, while the cooking may appeal to some, others may find they save time by eating already prepared food on campus.

Living off campus gives you a wide variety of accommodations. You can rent a studio apartment for yourself, or share a larger apartment with others. Some students even go together to rent a house! It all depends on your income and your preference for roommates.

Renting an off campus home provides a break from campus every single evening. Those breaks are few and far between when you live in campus housing. If you’d prefer a quiet neighborhood versus noisy dorms, then off campus housing may be perfect for you! Find peace and serenity in your own apartment when your campus classes and other responsibilities are complete.

Disadvantages to Off Campus Living

Of course, there are just as many disadvantages to consider when you’re looking to live off campus. Apartments may cost more than you’re able to afford, and off campus housing is not usually covered by the grants and scholarships you may be using to get through school. If finances are a problem, you’ll probably choose your housing based on what can be afforded.

Besides paying for your own apartment, shopping for food, and taking time out of your class, work and study schedule to clean and keep house, you will probably need to buy a car for transportation to school, the grocery store, and work. Besides paying for gas, you’ll also need to pay for upkeep like oil changes and occasional engine tune-ups.

And while we’re on the subject of finances, consider all the extra costs associated with an apartment. Electricity, water, heating, internet, phone service, pest control, trash pick-up and other similar conveniences aren’t free. Be sure to add up all the expenses before jumping into signing a lease for any off campus apartments.

One final note to consider is the lack of campus security. Unless your apartment is owned by the school, you won’t be under campus security surveillance. So, you’ll want to be sure you choose an apartment that you can afford, but also one that’s in a good neighborhood.

There are many things to consider when choosing between on campus dorms or off campus apartments. Be sure to consider all your options and all the facts before you make your final decision.

Top 5 Amenities to Look for When Utilizing Off Campus Housing

While living on campus during the school year is convenient, it may not be the most cost effective. Oftentimes off campus housing has much more to offer than a small dorm room. Below you will find a list of amenities to look for when browsing apartments that rest just outside of the college or university you plan to attend.

Furnishings

Is the apartment for rent fully-furnished? Since dorm rooms come with beds and dressers, you must figure furnishings into the price of the rental to see if it makes off campus living worthwhile. Fortunately, many apartment buildings that surround college campuses realize this fact and supply their flats with everything from beds to coffee tables. If you’re lucky, you may even locate one with flatware and utensils.

Kitchens

In addition to a furnished apartment, you’ll want to scope out a place that has a kitchen. Since you’ll be farther away from the school and its cafeteria, you’ll need to make most of your meals at home. Of course, preparing meals and snacks in your apartment is much more cost effective than eating out on a daily basis, including in a university food court.

Utilities Included

When you make arrangements to live in a dorm room, you get the use of the room and all of the utilities associated with it for one price. Off campus housing may or may not give you a monthly quote that includes utilities. Make sure you inquire about this so you can get an accurate total price comparison of a dorm room verses an apartment nearby. Also keep in mind that it will be easier for a college student to pay one bill, verses three or four.

Wireless Internet Service

Does the apartment complex supply wireless Internet service for its residents, or does it have a cafe where the Internet can be accessed for free? Perhaps there’s a shared lobby where young adults can sit down with a laptop and connect. College students benefit from complimentary Internet by being able to do research for scholastic papers, checking on their student accounts, and emailing home to check in with family and friends.

Fitness Facility

Working out at least 30 minutes per day is the best way to stay healthy and alert, so keep your eyes open for an apartment building that has its own fitness gym for residents to use regularly. After you locate one, inquire as to the hours the facility will be open. Will this schedule gel with your class schedule? Also, you’ll want to know what equipment is present in the gym. Are there weights? Do they have mats for stretching? Will you be able to choose between a treadmill and an elliptical bike for cardiovascular workouts? Perhaps they have a swimming pool for exercise that is easy on the joints.

The more amenities the off campus housing facility offers, the less traveling you will have to do to squeeze in such things as meals, exercise, and class research. Once you locate the perfect place at the right price, you can begin your college career with a positive outlook.

How I Graduated College Debt Free and Survived

Graduating college debt free. Most people would say it’s impossible, but I’m living proof that it’s not! It’s so rare these days that most people I tell my story to don’t believe me. Maybe I should write a book on this haha.

I attended the prestigious University of Washington for four years and graduating without a single dollar of debt. I actually graduated with a large surplus in my checking account! Although it was a lonely, hard road, you too can do it. It takes sacrifice, perseverance, a little creativity, and lots of hard work. The key is to ignore the people around you. No, no, not like that. I mean ignore what other people are DOING AROUND YOU. This means ignoring friends buying new cars, friends taking out loans for tuition, ignoring friends eating out all the time, and ignoring friends with expensive hobbies. All these things take a significant amount of money. If you don’t have the money to do it, don’t go into debt when you have a tuition bill looming over your head! It’s all about your frame of mind.

If you are focused on the long term goal, which was graduating debt free for me, then the actions of people around you now shouldn’t faze you! If anything this type of thinking should excite you! You’re doing something completely against the “American way” and doing something totally unique. And if anything else, you will have an amazing story to tell your friends, family, and children someday.

These are simple, common steps I took to prevent college debt:

-I drove an old car. During my senior year in high school I was blessed with the opportunity to buy a friend’s Geo Prizm for $500. Yes, it was a Geo, you heard me right. My pride is still intact! The key here is to drive a low maintenance vehicle that gets good gas mileage. This is especially crucial if you live off campus and commute.

-I lived at home. This is a no-brainer. Free food, free cable, free internet, free EVERYTHING. Thankfully, I am blessed to have been raised in a wonderful family, so living at home was an easy choice for me. Living at home will cut out hundreds of dollars in expenses every month.

-I worked A LOT. I did some type of work at least 5 days a week for all four years of college. It seems like I worked everywhere. Let’s look at the laundry list: produce clerk at Safeway, desk manager at a local gym, carpenter, and multiple paid internships.

-Ran my own side gigs. The beauty of side gigs is that your pay is significantly higher than typical college jobs. I consistently ran two side gigs, landscaping services and furniture moving services. I made roughly $15/hour mowing lawns, weeding yards, and pruning bushes. I would bring a radio and lanscape away. You can;t be afraid to get your hands dirty! The real money maker for me was furniture relocation. I make $25/hour pretty consistently and never had trouble finding clients for weekend work. I advertised on Craig’s List and even set up my own website. It was a hard way to make money, but you can’t beat $25/hour!

-Rarely ate out. I remember time after time, friends asking me to go eat out at restaurants. And I remember time after time saying “No thanks!” I’m sure some thought I was being rude, but I had a goal and a silly thing like eating out was not going to stop me! I packed brown bag lunches and brought snacks from home as many times as I could. Thank you Mom!

-I had a cheap hobby. Having a cheap hobby is critical during college. My finances were tight so I didn’t want to get into any expensive hobbies. Mine ended up (and still is) being bodybuilding. Since I worked out at my college gym, it was free. Also, food wasn’t that expensive due to living at home.

-Shopped at Ross for clothes. Ross is still my favorite place to shop! When everyone around me was buying $200 designer jeans, I was buying $20 Levi’s. I’ve never been a materialistic person, so maybe that helped. I’m not going to lie, I was definitely tempted at times to buy expensive clothes. To be honest, it’s not worth it. Over the years, I’ve learned that improving your personality is far more important than trying to impress people, let alone, people you don’t even know.

-Attended an in-state University. When I was researching colleges, I considered out of state schools. But I just couldn’t justify the cost difference. University of Washington was $6,000/year where as most out of state schools averaged $20,000/year. Quite the savings huh?

And there you have it guys! These are tried and true ways I graduated college with zero dollars of debt. It is possible! Comment below if you have more tips.

-JE