Housing In College: The 4 Types & the Pros/Cons for Each

There are 4 basic living options you have in college: college dorms, off-campus but local housing, off-campus housing and living at home.

Living at home may not be an option for all students, but can often be one for state school students.

Having lived in all 4 types of housing, I have insight into what each entails and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Here are some things to consider before making your decision:


PRO: Living in a college dorm allows you to be close to campus, provides a relatively safer setting to live in, keeps you close to peers, and will have everything you need (store, campus center, dining hall) within a minute walk.

CON: Expensive (in 2008-2009, room and board cost an average of $7,748 at public colleges and $8,989 at private colleges), no freedom (you will have to abide by housing rules which will most likely prohibit : candles, hot plates, and halogen lamps), no pets, and shared bathrooms.


PRO: Living off-campus, but within walking distance to your class, allows to you to be an adult!

You’ll most likely save money, won’t need a dining hall plan so you can get cheaper and tastier food, can live with whomever you would like (regardless of gender), will only have to share a bathroom with your housemates as opposed to 30 other students, you have your own privacy and space, and there are no curfews!

CON: More freedom definitely means more responsibilities!

Living on your own means you need to be responsible for cleaning a space larger than your 12 x 12 dorm room, pay rent on time, make sure to lock your doors, and if not provided, get your own furniture. Note: Most houses local to colleges offer furniture.

Also, if you don’t have a dining plan, you have to make or buy your own food!



PRO: Real off-campus housing (driving distance away from college) can be significantly cheaper than dorming and living locally.

You can get a “nicer” place for less money! If your university is in a run-down area, chances are you can upgrade to a more suburban or city-esque setting!

CON: You’ll need a car, will need to account for travel time to classes and will be disconnected from the college.

Also, you will most definitely need furniture so consider this: What will you do with the furniture after graduation and is the cost of furniture worth it?


PRO: I can’t begin to express what a double edged sword living at home is.

On one hand, it’s free and you can (depending on your family) reap the benefits of not having to do your laundry, always being guaranteed a meal and having someone (translation: a family member) to run your errands if you’re too busy.

CON: Lack of privacy, life reverts back to how it was in high school, if you don’t study your parents WILL know, a possible curfew, and no house parties! (Again, the pros and cons of living at home depend on your parents and family)

In a nutshell, your ideal housing situation will differ drastically from your friends and peers. In my case, living off campus (but locally) was an amazing experience. I also lived at home and that wasn’t too bad, but I definitely felt a little caged with a set of overbearing parents who insisted on knowing where I’m going and when I’m coming back.


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