College Connect: The pros and cons of living off campus

Posted By David Wilhite

By Charlotte Norsworthy

Many college students grapple with the decision to live on or off campus. While there are many factors to consider, for most students, the decision boils down to affordability.

At the University of Georgia, most students are required to find a spot on campus to live during their first year, which can vary from single-person dorm rooms, six-person dorm rooms and even two-person apartments.

Beyond the first year, however, students are free to decide where they want to live. However, for Erin Campbell, a senior from Hinesville, Georgia, leaving on-campus housing was not initially at the top of her priority list.

Campbell, who transferred during her sophomore year, said she decided to live on campus initially because she did not know her way around the school or the city. “After the first semester on campus, I really enjoyed how close I was to all of my classes and dining halls, so I stayed for another year,” she said.

It wasn’t until the start of her senior year that Campbell made the decision to find an apartment off campus to live next fall.

“Convenience comes at a hefty price,” she said. “It would cost less overall to live off campus and use the bus services to commute to campus.”

Campbell will live in an apartment with three other roommates, where she has found the overall cost of living to be much more manageable when divided among four people.

“The rates that we found for apartments are a lot better for four-bedroom leases than two-bedroom leases,” she said. “Not to mention carpooling and grocery shopping will be split among four.”

Affordability of housing is a common issue college students struggle with, Pamela Turner, an associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at UGA, said. However, Turner said other factors come into play when making this decision, such as convenience, location and social habits.

“If you tend to be maybe less social but need to be around people, but it’s hard for you, it might be better to live in a forced social environment like a dorm,” Turner said. “There, you’re more likely to interact with people more.”

Turner said it can be hard for students to transition from having food, laundry and transportation at your fingertips to coordinating each of those arrangements independently. Living off campus can introduce students into some of the responsibilities that come with adulthood prior to graduation, Turner said, which proves beneficial to the post-graduation transition.

“I think having some experience of having to manage all of the details of finding an apartment is good experience to learn before you go out into the work world,” she said. “The gap between living on campus versus living off campus is actually a very good thing because you’re not always in the same environment.”

Turner said when students step outside of their comfort zone, it has the potential to allow students to grow more financially stable and more appreciative of their surroundings.

“You actually get to see Athens and that it’s not just UGA,” she said. “So when you actually step outside of that shelter, it can be a very good thing.”

Charlotte Norsworthy is a student at the University of Georgia.

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