Pros and Cons of living on or off campus?

Even though I’ve never lived off campus during my time at college (traditional communal dorms only) I’ve always wondered what it would’ve been like to share an apartment or house with some roommates, as well as the pros and cons of living on or off campus?

IMO, one of the most important pros of living on campus is living closer to dining halls & your classes, as well as more friendship possibilities while living in the dorms. One con of living on campus is housing and meal plan prices, when compared to rent and other expenses while living off campus.

For living off campus, the only important pro I thought of was learning how to live independently with or without roommates while managing rent and other expenses as well. The only cons I thought of was living further away from campus and having to deal with parties almost every weekend (since most college parties happen off campus)

I think it really depends on the college. It’s very unusual for students to stay in dorms after sophomore year at my D’s school and her apartment next year is closer to her academic buildings than her last dorm.

She was off campus this year too and was excited, and ready, to be shopping and cooking for herself, and yes, good life skills to manage leases, rents, utilities, etc…

No difference in parties.

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Parties without as much risk, being able to leave belongings over break is great, finding employment during breaks at home or at school, adulting… my 2 oldest moved off junior year, the next 2 sophomore year.

So it depends on the college. Lots of college parties are actually on campus in some sort of housing… My daughter’s off campus experience was like 2 short blocks from her dorm… And yes in the winter she had to walk further… Lol. But it’s fun living in housing with others. Many schools have co-op housing of some sort. Many are themed. Not like a fraternity… My daughter was in one with all vegetarians and they went shopping and cooked all their dinners. together. She was also in a theater house. All liked minded students so it was fun…

She was also in a traditional apartment her last year… With 2 others…

For perspective, this site shows the percentage of students living on campus at the most highly residential colleges:

As a parent, if it weren’t for Covid and all those restrictions, I would have wanted my child to stay on campus. For me, the biggest reason is that my kid was now an adult with an apartment of her own and she spent most breaks at her apartment. If she had been in the dorms, she would have come home during the breaks. The other bummer for me was co-signing a lease for her. I felt like more things could go wrong and I could have more financial liability.

OP you’ve finished your time in college so is this a question about regret in that you didn’t live off campus?

Each of my children had different experiences:

  • The eldest lived on campus because housing was available and she lived in a single with other upper classmen.

  • The middle one had to move out since housing was not guaranteed after Frosh.

  1. She learned to balance her school and work schedule, brought her car up to the school and learned about car maintenance. She was one of the few drivers so everyone pitched in for gas when they needed to shop at Costco or the grocery store.

  2. She learned to coordinate payments for rent, utilities, cable, gas, and dealing with the utility companies, apartment maintenance - upkeep for AC, washer/dryer, broken refrigerator - garbage disposal and trash pick up. Dealing with downed internet/cable.

  3. Shared expenses for things like paper towels, TP, cleansers, trash liners, replacement light bulbs, brooms, mops, etc. Maintaining quiet hours. Respecting roommates items and compromising on issues.

  4. The hardest part was dealing with the chores: deep-cleaning the kitchen, deep cleaning the showers/tubs and sinks, taking out the trash, running the vacuum, cleaning out the fridge/freezer. They ended up dividing the work based on everyone’s work and school schedules and placed dates and times on a “child’s” chore chart they found at Target.

  5. She and her roommates had a few parties and went to the neighbors’ parties but they all learned that parties required a lot of cash upfront, clean-up crews, and making sure no minors/underaged drinking was going on because they would be financially responsible for any illegal issues.

  • Youngest lived on campus for frosh, sophomore years and then transferred home during Covid.

Why is this relevant now to you? Either journey gets your through the 4 years.

Huge pro of living off campus is having your own bedroom and having more space in general.


It also depends on the housing. Most of the housing at WashU is far better than what most student can afford off campus anywhere. Of course, WashU has one of the largest number of wealthy and very wealthy students among all colleges, so there are plenty of them who can afford housing which is more luxurious than the WashU dorms…

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