During your college years, there are some definite pluses to living off campus. Freedom from the dorms can be liberating and fun.
However, there are also frustrations with off campus life that some students may gloss over until it's too late.
All in all, you need to weigh out the pluses and minuses before you decide to make the big move to an off-campus location.
To make sure you're making the right choice, here are five factors to keep in mind when moving and living off campus.
1. Dealing with landlordsDealing with a landlords can be frustrating. Be prepared for rules and regulations you may not be able to abide. Also remember that some landlords lag when it comes time to make fixes to your rental.
Some students take on the task or repairs and only call on the landlord as a last resort. Make sure communication is clear about what you are paying for and what your landlord will be taking care of. You don't want a utility shut off because you assume the landlord is taking care of payments.
2. Utility usageOn campus, you pay a lump sum for housing. From there, you can pretty much use as much gas, water and electricity as you'd like, have access to "free" internet and cable, and call on a handy man to take care of any repairs.
Off campus, you'll likely have to regulate your usage of water. This means short showers, waiting for laundry to pile up into a large load and using the dishwasher as little as possible.
The same frugality may also apply to gas, so while it may be freezing cold in your place, you might be reluctant to turn on the heater.
While keeping your utility use in check is better for the environment, some roommates might disagree over wasteful usage. You're facing potential roommate conflict if you aren't able to agree on conserving versus waste.
3. Commuting and parkingCommuting to school can be a pain, especially if you don't have a car. If you do have a car, some campuses may not provide ample parking -- and will force you to pay steep parking fees.
If you're using public transit, keep in mind that you're at the whims of a schedule that might not be as rigid as you'd like. A late bus can cause you to miss class or be the capper to an awfully long day when you're just trying to get home and relax.
4. CrimeOf course, crime can also happen in the dorms. But the dorms usually offer either security guards, key codes or keys to enter a building -- and a separate key code/lock used for entry into your place. As long as you and your dorm mates remember to lock your door, chances are you will be okay.
Robberies off campus happen more often, and if you don't purchase renters insurance, theft is a tough issue to deal with.
Criminals may target off-campus housing, since they can pretty much guarantee scoring a laptop or other electronics. And make sure to find a safe place to park, because off-campus cars are more susceptible to getting broken into.
5. More upkeepIn the dorms, there's someone who cleans the bathroom for you, and there's only a small space that you're responsible for keeping clean. Keeping an apartment or house clean is much more work and can be hard to maintain on top your studies.