A Guide for Student Housing: Pros and Cons of Living On and Off-Campus

April 19, 2022

Congratulations on pursuing another degree! Whether you’re headed to a four-year university full-time or taking part-time classes at a local community college, this is an exciting new season. You have a lot of decisions to make as a new student – everything from which classes to take to student housing. PadSplit can’t help you with your course selection, but we can help you decide whether living on or off-campus is the best fit for you.

Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of living on or off-campus to help you decide what makes the most sense for this new season. 

Student Housing Option 1: Living On Campus

Living on campus can be fun and is often considered part of the “typical” college experience, making it a popular choice for student housing. There are usually a few different on-campus student housing options depending on the college or university. Most common are residence halls and dormitories with communal bathrooms, but some colleges may offer apartments as options.

On-campus living is convenient, and you’re constantly surrounded by peers and fellow students. However, it does come with some downsides. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of living on campus.

The Pros of On-Campus Housing

  • Convenience: When you live on campus, you are physically on the campus all of the time. You’ll be able to walk to class, on-campus events, and amenities such as the gym, dining halls, or libraries. The proximity means you can hit the snooze button an extra time before your 8 a.m. class.  
  • Facilities and Amenities: Depending on the size of your college, living on campus may also give you access to additional facilities, like cafeterias, gyms, and laundry facilities for students. 
  • Community: Building connections and getting involved in the college community are integral parts of any college experience. Living on campus means you’re surrounded by other students, faculty, and support staff. Living on campus makes it easier to seek opportunities to get involved and build relationships with your peers.  

The Cons of On-Campus Housing

  • Lack of Privacy: As mentioned above, when you live on campus, you’re constantly surrounded by fellow students. You will most likely share a room with someone else and communal bathrooms with numerous other people. This can make it hard to have privacy or “me time,” especially if you’re an introvert or are used to having your own space. 
  • Rules: Many dormitories have rather strict rules that students need to follow, and resident advisors who live in the building ensure students are following the rules. These rules could include what you’re allowed to have in your room, curfews, or prohibiting having members of the opposite sex in your building. Resident advisors issue warnings or fines to students caught breaking these rules.
  • Cost: You will need to pay for your room and board when you live on campus. In addition to room and board, many campuses require students to purchase a meal plan because they will not have access to a private kitchen. According to College Board, the average estimated cost of living on campus for the 2020-21 school year ranged from $11,620 at a public college to $13,120 at a private college. However, some colleges allow students to use financial aid or scholarships to cover their housing expenses.
  • May not be an option: There are a lot of factors that may prevent living on campus from even being an option. Some smaller schools or community colleges may not offer on-campus housing or have limited space. Other schools may restrict on-campus living options to full-time students only.
Photo by Michael Marsh on Unsplash

Student Housing Option 2: Living Off-Campus

Living off-campus can feel liberating. It gives you privacy, space, freedom, and a break from college life. However, it often comes with more responsibility and more costs. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of living off-campus.

The Pros of Off-Campus Housing

  • Privacy: Living off-campus offers more privacy than living on campus. You may choose to live alone or with a couple of roommates. You will likely have your private room or space to decompress and study.
  • Space: Many traditional rental arrangements offer more space than a conventional college dormitory or resident hall. If you have a roommate or two, you will likely have your room and share common areas.
  • Freedom: You aren’t subject to the same rules and curfews set by most dorms when you live off-campus. You’ll have a greater sense of freedom and control over your daily life. 
  • Location Options: Living off-campus doesn’t restrict you to the college footprint. You can choose a location close to campus or find a place that’s closer to your work, friends, or favorite neighborhood and restaurants. 

The Cons of Off-Campus Housing

  • Commute: If you live off-campus, you will likely need access to a car or public transportation to get to class. Public transit may not be frequent or reliable enough to get you to campus, depending on your city. Commuting via car can take a lot of time out of your day. Also, if you drive to campus, you will likely have to buy a parking pass and deal with trying to find available spaces. 
  • Lack of Community: You may struggle to feel like part of the campus community because you aren’t surrounded by fellow students, faculty, and support staff 24/7. If you live off-campus, be sure you attend events, games, and other activities to stay connected.
  • Cost: Living off-campus in a traditional rental arrangement means you will be responsible for your monthly rent, utilities, and renter’s insurance. The average monthly rent for an apartment is $1,200. You’ll likely have to pass a credit check or have a co-signer to vouch for your ability to pay. You will also have to sign a lease and pay a security deposit. These costs can really add up. 
  • Lease Length: Most traditional off-campus housing options such as apartments or single-family house rentals will require a 12-month lease. Most university programs run in semesters from August to May, and unless you’re taking summer classes, you’ll be stuck living in your place for the entire year or be forced to find a subletter to cover your rent costs.
Photo by Jimmy Chang on Unsplash

The Best Off Campus Student Housing Option: PadSplit

Fortunately, not all off-campus housing solutions are expensive. PadSplit combines the pros of both on-campus and off-campus housing, making it the best option for student housing.

PadSplit is a co-living membership program. Residents get a private, furnished room, utilities, internet access, and laundry facilities for a fixed weekly payment. There’s no minimum credit score required, and PadSplit doesn’t lock Members into a long-term lease. In fact, after an initial one-month commitment, Members pay by the week and can stay for as long or as short as they’d like. 

On average, PadSplit Members spend an average of $663 per month on their housing, helping them save for future endeavors. 

Become a PadSplit Member

Becoming a PadSplit Member is fast and easy! After you fill out background and employment verification forms, you’ll pay a one-time $19 application fee to cover your background check. Once approved, you can browse available rooms, book your PadSplit, and move in within 48 hours.

Full-time student and PadSplit Member Jacqueline, says, “As a full-time student, PadSplit has worked out really well for me. I get paid weekly, so I love paying my rent weekly instead of monthly and knowing all my utilities are covered. It’s helped me budget better because I know what I can and can’t spend after paying for the essentials.”

More than 7,700 people — including hundreds of students like Jacqueline — have trusted PadSplit to find an affordable place to live. Start your membership application today.

Explore our posts