Living off campus in college for the first time is actually a pretty big step in a person’s life. As a college student myself, I know what current college students are going through, and what it’s like to live both off and on campus. Living off campus is going to be your first experience as a real adult, where you are completely responsible for all your actions, and you receive a lot of responsibilities. There are a lot of things to expect when deciding to live off campus, here’s a list of some of the most important things to anticipate.
1) Food- This is probably one of the biggest things to think about when deciding to live off campus. You’re not home anymore, so you can’t expect anyone to cook for you, and you’re not on campus, so you don’t have a dining hall plan anymore. This means, that you’re actually responsible for cooking on your own. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s actually not as easy as you might think to prepare your favorite dishes the way you’re used to having them. Not only this, but you probably have to make sure you have a lunch packed so you can have something to eat in between classes, assuming that you’re not going to drive back and forth from your apartment to campus multiple times throughout the day. In other words, food is an extremely important aspect to think about when deciding to live off campus.
2) Bills- Now that you’re living completely on your own, you’re going to be responsible for a lot of your own bills. You may not realize how much this really is. You’re going to have to pay you rent, and maybe even heat, air conditioning if available, hot water, and a lot of other bills. This of course is on top of your bills if you want cable television, cell phone, internet service, and all the other amenities that you’re used to having. These bills can add up pretty quick, so you must make sure that you are able to afford living on your own before you decide to make the move. If you’re not careful, you could end up being evicted or having your lights shut off for not being able to pay your bills. You must remember that it’s not just the rent you owe, but everything else that goes along with living on your own.
3) Maintenance- Maintaining an apartment or a house with flats can be quite difficult. You must remember that during the winter you have to either shovel or snowplow the sidewalk and driveway if available, and during the hot months you have to mow the lawn. This may not seem like a big deal, but you also have to gout and buy these things so that you can do this. I assume a lawnmower and gas and a shovel aren’t on your list of things to bring with you to college, so you have to keep these in mind as well. Maintaining an apartment or a house isn’t cheap or easy, so be sure to consider these when moving out on your own.
4) Crime- Chances are the apartments or houses for college students to rent aren’t necessarily in the nicest area. Most college students can’t afford nice apartments, so they tend to be in “dumpy” areas. Keep this in mind when living in these areas, that you must be careful what you live outside or in a line of vision, as its fairly easy for someone to break into old apartments that probably don’t have security systems. Make sure your valuables are safe, and that you try to protect yourself against crime as much as possible.
5) Damage- Remember that deposit you had to make when you signed the lease? It’d be nice if you could get that amount back. You are going to be responsible for all damage done to the house or apartment, so try to treat it the same way you would if you were living at home. Any damage to the apartment will be billed to you, or could even get you kicked out of the apartment and have you out on the street, so don’t be foolish.
6) Noise- Chances are if you’re living in an area with college students, there’s going to be parties. Since all the parties in college tend to take place off campus in order to avoid intervention from campus officials, there’s probably going to be a lot of loud parties going on nearby. Don’t leave anything valuable outside, and expect a lot of drunken people walking around in front or near your house. Be careful where you park your car as well, as if it’s on the street I’ve seen many cars get damaged due to drunken college students. Expect loud music and parties, and be aware that that’s something you’re going to have to deal with if living off campus in a college section of town.
7) Travel- Since you’re living off campus, you’re going to have to find a ride or drive to campus to go to class. If you take the city bus or other public transportation, this is going to take some time. Because of this, you’re going to have to leave earlier for class, and try to leave as much time as possible to avoid being late. There’s not much more embarrassing than walking into a room full of people late and having everyone turn around and look at you. Travel is actually a cost that will also definitely add up over time, as the amount of gas or travel fare paid over the course of the year could actually become quite expensive.
8) Furniture- It costs a lot to furnish a whole house or apartment. Of course I realize that most college students get couches off of people’s sidewalks or garage sales, it can still be expensive to find furniture to fill up the whole house. Nothing looks weirder than people living in an empty house, so make sure you have enough furniture to make the room look normal. It doesn’t necessarily have to be nice furniture, but enough furniture so that the room looks nice and there’s places for guests to sit down should be sufficient.
As you can see, there is actually a lot to think about when deciding to make the step towards living off campus. If you take my advice, and make sure you have everything that is listed above covered, you should be in good shape for living on your own. If you think you’re old enough and ready to handle the extra responsibility, then you’re welcome to enjoy the freedoms of living on your own without supervision. It’s very important that you’re prepared; otherwise you might find yourself in a different situation than you are used to.