Skip to content

Is It Better To Live On Or Off Campus?

Is It Better To Live On Or Off Campus

It would seem that there are only two choices of where to live during college.  So, the final decision should be an easy one, right?

Well, there are several factors to consider when trying to pick on-campus or off-campus housing. The wrong decision could affect your credit rating, your stress level, and the rest of your life – but don’t worry, we’re here to help!

Below we’ll provide both the pros and cons of each situation to help you decide whether or not it’s better to live on or off-campus depending on your specific needs and situation.

Benefits Of Living Off-Campus Vs. Tradeoffs

There are many benefits to living off-campus which include

  • establishing credit for yourself
  • feeling more independent and freer
  • getting to choose a location near school or your favorite places

However, there are some downsides to consider as well such as the following:

  • You may need someone to sign your lease if you don’t have a current rating
  • You must keep a budget for all the extra expenses (rent, electricity, internet, trash, furniture to purchase, food, gas)
  • It can be hard to know whether or not your new neighborhood is safe
  • You’ll need access to a car or some form of transportation
  • Some colleges won’t let you stay off-campus your first year


Something else to consider is that if you still live with your parents, it may be your best bet to stay at home and commute. Also, you are already settled in there and that is a plus. And if you don’t have to pay rent to them, you are really ahead of the game!

Benefits Of Living On-Campus Vs. Tradeoffs

Some four-year universities require that first-year students live on campus. It is wise to check into these requirements prior to accepting an admission offer. As in all things, there are pros and cons to living on campus.

Some of the benefits of living on campus include:

  • Being close to your classes and college activities 
  • Not wasting your time commuting
  • Being more productive
  • Creating a close-knit group of friends on campus
  • Having more flexibility in connecting with professors
  • Having access to meal plans 
  • Using it as a way to transition from living at home with parents


NOTE: A comparison of Kent State University freshmen who lived on campus and who lived off-campus from 2012 to 2016 found that those who lived on campus had higher first semester GPAs and were more likely to return to school the next semester than those who lived off-campus. 


Just as there are positive reasons to live on-campus, there are also downsides to consider:

  • Room and board are not cheap 
  • The rooms and beds may be small
  • There usually isn’t an in-room kitchen
  • Many dorm bathrooms are communal
  • Privacy isn’t guaranteed
  • Some residents may be inconsiderate 
  • You can’t always choose where you live


Aside from the usual dorms, about 10% of college students join Greek life, according to the North American Interfraternity Conference. While there are plenty of benefits to going Greek, there’s also a much higher price tag.

For example, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, fraternity members pay $3,200 to $10,000 depending on the chapter. Chapter dues, fees, and meals can rack up on average an additional $1,000 or more a year.

Additionally, most chapters require members to live there for a minimum of two years. According to Madison Smith, a senior at Indiana University, “Greek housing is for anyone seeking a social environment who knows how to balance work and play.” 

My Experience

When I attended college in my later years, I had several choices. I had already gotten three AAs at a junior college. I received a partial scholarship to a four-year university that was located about a 45-minute drive from my home that I owned.

First, I decided it would waste too much of my study time to be driving both ways, especially if I got stuck in traffic. I had left my full-time job and cashed in my IRA money. I was going to work at the university as a part-time job.

Second, I did the math as far as keeping my condo. It seemed I could not receive sufficient rent from someone to keep up with all the expenses. I also didn’t want to deal with managing renters and possible challenges. Thus, I decided to sell it!

Best Of Luck Deciding!

Now that you have all the criteria for choices, I am certain you will make the right choice(s) of where to live during your college years. The main thing to remember is you want this experience to be enjoyable as well as a positive step forward in the job market for your future.

Joanne is a professional speaker, writer, organizer, and certified life coach. She received her Communications/Creative Writing BS degree from Chapman University in Orange, California.

Since deciding to attend college in her later years, she is well versed in the why and how it works. Her children were inspired to continue their education after high school, after watching their mom attend at an advanced age. Joanne was working for a Fortune 500 Company and knew getting a college degree would make her more competitive in the job market. She started at the junior college level and transferred her credits to Chapman. To her amazement, after graduation, a new Communications Department opened up and she was selected to be one of the Communications Specialists in the new department. It was also at a pay increase which made it all the more satisfying.

Currently, Joanne has her first two e-books in her Better Life Series on “How to Have More Love and Peace in Your Life,” and “Four Steps to Happiness.” “Beyond Hoping” is in the works along with a children’s book.

Joanne has seen how a college education can create new opportunities for young and old students and wishes she had a team like My College Planning Team available to her and her children to assist with their process and save them time, stress and money.

Back To Top