Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions a person will make in their life. It’s probably something you’ve heard before, but your college experience will greatly impact both your personal and professional life. In the past, most students would consider the school’s academic programs and after-college career opportunities.
Nowadays, most first-year students give much thought to other factors like school amenities and on-campus or off-campus housing, which are crucial in elevating their college experience.
According to an article, more students and parents are looking for a housing arrangement with more privacy and better amenities than the usual communal housing and shared dorm rooms. Students are paying more attention to finding quality housing when choosing a college. More students are opting out of traditional dormitories with communal showers and tight spaces.
What is Off-Campus Housing?
Off-campus housing refers to houses or apartments near colleges and universities, where college students can stay and rent throughout their degree. This presents an excellent option for students who want more privacy and better room space. Aside from the privacy, students may also get to have their bathroom or share them with fewer people than staying in a dormitory.
If you’re leaving home and being on your own for the first time, apartments may offer you a better sense of independence since you won’t be confined within campus grounds and their rules. You get to run a mini household without curfew and possibly have a personal study area. But staying off-campus is not without its disadvantages. As they say, great power, or in your case—independence, comes great responsibility.
Off-Campus vs. On-Campus Housing
Generally, the difference between off-campus and on-campus is their proximity to the school. Typically, colleges offer on-campus housing, which allows students to stay within campus dormitories or halls, while off-campus housing options are apartments located outside but relatively near the school grounds.
On-campus accommodations may offer convenience with easy access to school facilities such as libraries and fitness centers. Another advantage of staying in school dormitories is that you won’t have to worry about being late since the classrooms are within walking distance, so getting to classes early in the morning won’t be a problem. Meal plans are usually provided, which means you don’t have to worry about preparing meals and buying groceries, except for your snacks, of course.
However, living on-campus may have its disadvantages. One notable con is its cost. On-campus housing may be more costly than off-campus options because of the former’s meal plans and miscellaneous dormitory fees. When staying on-campus, it’s also best to consider your privacy as most spaces, such as study areas and bathrooms, are usually communal, so you may have to line up from time to time.
Finding the Right Off-Campus Housing
Scouting for room rentals can be very exciting, especially if classes are about to start and choices are narrowed to only a few. However, if you’re looking for the right off-campus rental, it’s best to take your time in weighing your options. Aside from researching and reading the details posted online, it’s best to talk to the property owners and arrange an ocular visit. This will help you gauge if the room will suit you for the next few years.
It’s best to be familiar with the property’s location and the route to the campus. You may also ask about your daily transportation choices and even environmental issues like flooding. Your safety should be on top of your property, so check if the area has a local police department that you can run to in case of any emergency.
Lastly, survey the stores within walking distance to know your choices. Check out the nearby restaurants, laundry shops, and supermarkets. Since you will be on your own, it’s important to know your options beforehand and make sure to check on all these before signing your lease.
Weighing the Costs
When looking for an off-campus property, it’s best to check the fees that go with it. Aside from checking the monthly rent, compute your daily commute and meal expenses. Staying in a place with relatively cheaper rent but with travel expenses may be more expensive compared to a high-priced unit that’s less than a mile from the campus. Similarly, staying in a place with low rent but with expensive food options around the area can cost more in the long run.
It’s best to check and balance your expenses to know which option is best a first for your budget. Not all colleges and universities offer student loans that cover off-campus housing. If you’re looking into including your housing expenses into your student loan, it’s important to coordinate with your school’s admissions office first.
Before Moving In
After finding the right housing option, students need to check on the unit before moving in. If you’re in the process of getting settled, it’s best to take note of your room’s ceiling and walls for any holes or cracks. You may also check all the light switches and electrical outlets if they’re working.
Another important aspect of the house to check is its plumbing. Check for any leaks or stains in the bathroom. You may also inspect if the kitchen faucets and the shower’s hot function are all working. If you have a balcony, check for any cracks on the exterior walling or any trouble with the sliding panel.
Finally, check on the unit’s smoke detectors and sprinkler system. Make sure that emergency plans are laid out, and fire extinguishers are readily available. You may fill up an inspection sheet or talk to the landlord personally to manage any problems observed before your move-in.
What About Furnishing?
If you’re searching for off-campus housing options, you may have come across properties that are furnished. Units that are fully furnished may come with complete furniture and heavy appliances such as beds and refrigerators. You need to be ready and take your belongings with you. Similarly, semi-furnished houses may come with some of the big furniture needed by the tenant. With this, students may still have to bring other furniture or appliances like bedside tables.
Fortunately, if you’re moving in and looking for furniture, you may check for used furniture online or through garage sales. Some school websites offer a platform for students to buy and sell used appliances, furniture, and housing supplies. You may also talk to the previous tenant or your landlord to check for available furnishing options.
Your Attitude Matters
Moving to a new apartment or townhouse may mean that you’ll be having new neighbors and flatmates. How you treat and interact with them may affect your stay. It’s best to build a good relationship with them early on. If you’ve just moved in, you may start with a smile and a pleasant introduction.
If you’ll be living with roommates, it’s best to work on your schedules and lay out the responsibilities. You may divide chores like taking out the trash and cleaning the kitchen among yourselves weekly. When having outsiders around, it’s best to maintain your volume as other housemates may be studying or are already asleep. Finally, it’s best to listen to each other and have boundaries. Thank us later.
Watch Out for Scams
Finding a suitable off-campus rental online is both convenient and efficient. However, it may pose risks such as frauds and scams. Websites may phish for sensitive information such as personal data, credit card details, and even your student information. It’s best to be mindful when checking online listings and make sure to use trusted websites only.
When you think a deal seems too good to be true, it’s best to check the property’s reviews or coordinate with school authorities to confirm its legitimacy. Keep in mind that rental fees are usually done in person after signing a lease or contract. As such, online listings that ask for payment right away should be a red flag.
The Best Off-Campus Housing Options for College Students
Finding the right apartment can be challenging, especially with all the choices available in the market. If you’re thinking about staying near your school, here are 20 colleges with the best selection of off-campus housing to choose from:
Brigham Young University (Idaho)
Brigham Young University offers various degrees, including education and human development, performing and visual arts, and interdisciplinary studies. This school provides different involvement opportunities, such as talent shows, campus tours, and recreational facilities that cater to various wellness activities. Brigham Young offers a university village that is within walking distance of their campus.
This village offers different housing options ranging from 2-bedroom flats to townhouse units. Its monthly rent may range from $799 to $999, depending on the property’s proximity and available amenities. The university village features a community center, basketball courts, and play areas. The Brigham Young database offers a pool of apartments and subsidized housing units for its students.
James Madison University (Virginia)
James Madison University is a public university that promotes critical thinking and academic research. This school offers different undergraduate programs, including communications, business, and health and behavioral studies. JMU encourages its students to participate in different organizations and clubs by hosting events like a student org night every semester.
JMU’s Off-Campus Life office maintains a website to bridge homeowners and students looking for housing options outside the campus. Students may use the JMU website to conveniently search for off-campus housing options, including local apartment listings, campus proximity, and monthly rental prices. This school also organizes an off-campus housing fair that acts as a one-stop-shop for students and school faculty to get the best offers and find great off-campus housing opportunities.
Washington University (Missouri)
Washington University is a private university that supports diversity, sustainability, and global engagement. Washington offers different programs in various fields like architecture, engineering, and medicine, and allied health. The university promotes innovative research and entrepreneurship globally by offering study grants and travel programs abroad.
Washington University offers an Apartment Referral System (ARS) for its students looking into staying off-campus. Aside from searching for housing options, it provides other services such as finding a roommate, a budgeting guide, and even a yard sale section for students to sell their household items. Moreover, to ensure the safety of its students, the university’s police department offers assistance by providing housing information and pre-cautionary checklists.
Utah State University
As a public land-grant university, Utah State University is dedicated to fostering academic excellence and cultural diversity in its students. USU is committed to promoting globalized education by offering different global remote internships, an International friends program, and having immigration advisors. In the spirit of inclusivity, the university also has a Disability Resource Center that helps students with disabilities fully participate in school programs and activities by providing assistance and direct services.
While off-campus housing is harder to find during the school year, more options are available for single students compared to couples or families looking into staying together. USU students may search for online listings through different college housing websites and groups offering different apartment and flat options near the campus. For students moving in, be sure to check the rental prices with your landlord before signing since the prices may vary and are usually lower in the summer season.
Liberty University (Virginia)
Liberty University is a private university that is grounded in Christian values and academic excellence. LU offers more than 700 study programs and comprises schools in different fields, including medicine and law. This university thrives in athleticism with top-class athletic facilities, such as its baseball stadium and indoor track and field complex.
Liberty University’s website features off-campus housing options and property rentals for faculty members and students. Its website also offers a ‘find a roommate’ feature to aid students willing to share an apartment to save on monthly rentals. Finding listings online is convenient but also risky. That’s why LU’s housing website also offers safety tips for students to consider while searching and scouting housing options online.
University of Alabama (Alabama)
The University of Alabama is a public university that aims to produce well-rounded and social-conscious student leaders. UA has more than 70 undergraduate programs and different academic interests like gender and race studies, mechanical design, politics, and current events. The university’s Center for Service and Leadership(CSL) organizes different community activities to encourage student involvement and promote advocacies like fighting hunger within Alabama.
The University of Alabama web portal features different apartments for rent and registered property owners. Subleasing postings are also available for students who want to rent a spare room or area from their existing rental. Additionally, the website offers different properties within a mile or two from the university campus, which is a convenient distance for walking.
University of California Merced (California)
The University of California Merced is part of the University of California (UC) system that focuses on research in various fields, including archeology, engineering, and health sciences. Aside from offering different majors and minors, UC Merced also offers different graduate programs such as bioengineering, public health, and applied mathematics. Students can choose from a pool of diverse student organizations such as anime clubs, hip-hop movements, and black student unions.
Fortunately, UC Merced is situated in a community that offers many affordable housing options.
The UC Merced website offers different listings of nearby properties and townhouses. For students who live off-campus, the university’s Transportation and Parking Services (TAPs) provides travel services to and from the campus, which may be safer and more convenient compared to mass transport.
Clemson University (South Carolina)
Clemson University is a public institution that aims to provide quality education to students from all walks of life. Clemson supports diversity through different multicultural student organizations and co-curricular programs. To facilitate student engagement, the university offers numerous students programs, including cooperative programs and international and off-campus internship programs.
Clemson’s off-campus housing options range from $300 to $1,200, depending on its amenities and the property’s proximity to the school. Aside from providing a database of house listings, Clemson’s website also offers commuter meal plans for off-campus students who want to avoid the hassle of cooking in their homes. Students who want to save more by dividing their rent may also look for a roommate by registering to their website.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia)
The Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University promotes experiential learning and interdisciplinary programs. Virginia Tech offers over a hundred majors, including creative technologies, ocean engineering, and international public policy. This public university also supports holistic wellness by providing students with different physical, mental, and even financial wellness resources.
Virginia Tech’s off-campus housing website offers different apartment choices, including apartments, townhouses, and even a castle. Aside from students, the property listings are also available to faculty members and school staff. They also have an off-campus housing fair where students talk to property owners directly and ask relevant questions.
Georgia Southern University (Georgia)
Georgia Southern University is a public university committed to providing inclusive excellence through different academic programs and internships. Georgia Southern offers career assessments to help students choose from a variety of their majors and minors. In the spirit of inclusivity, this university is open to active duty military, their family members, and even veterans.
Georgia Southern offers a list of their official housing supporter’s websites where students can choose houses or apartments for rent. Each website provides important information such as the apartment’s location, number of bedrooms, and monthly rent. It also showcases different property amenities and establishments nearby, like restaurants, parks, and shopping centers.
Southern Utah University (Utah)
Southern Utah University is a public university that fosters a caring campus community for its students. Its 140 undergraduate programs are centered on giving valuable working experience while students are learning classroom theories. SUU offers various student activities all year round, including art workshops, sports activities, and speaking engagements.
SSU’s list of off-campus housing options is sorted by the property’s proximity to the campus and inclusions like washers and furnishing. Students may also see apartments sorted by gender and space type: shared, private, or both. The rent may range from $340 to $2,400, depending on the property’s inclusions and extra features.
Texas A&M University (Texas)
Texas A&M University is a public university that aims to provide a quality education through its academic programs and research advancements. Texas A&M offers 133 undergraduate programs in different colleges such as law, geosciences, and liberal arts. This university is home to different sororities and fraternities that promote leadership and community service.
Texas A&M has a website for students seeking off-campus housing. Its listing comprises different apartments and villas with one to three bedrooms and can be great for sharing. Students should consider the town’s local ordinances when renting near the campus, such as noise maintenance and parking.
East Carolina University (North Carolina)
East Carolina University is a public institution that aims to produce successful students through transformative education and global experiences. Aside from offering the usual academic majors, ECU also offers a selection of health sciences programs geared towards improving the state’s health status. This university also promotes athleticism by hosting different tournaments and sports programs throughout the school year.
ECU provides an online site where students may choose from different house and apartment listings. The properties listed offer a range of amenities such as swimming pools, gaming rooms, and workout stations. Students residing outside the campus may need to consider different student guidelines and local regulations. Fortunately, ECU has a guide to help students with off-campus housing.
Auburn University (Alabama)
Being one of the largest universities in the south, Auburn University is a public university that incorporates experiential learning and character development in its student programs. Auburn has 13 colleges and schools, including the college of agriculture, veterinary medicine, and forestry and wildlife sciences. Its Office of Public Service initiates different outreach programs such as its Campus Kitchen, which aims to help feed communities around the country.
AU offers different off-campus property rentals through its website. Rentals may range from $350 to $2,000 with different inclusions and proximity to the university. It’s best to check your options since properties may offer varying bedroom capacities and amenities. Most listings are within a mile radius, so students may choose to walk to class for convenience.
University of Arkansas (Arkansas)
The University of Arkansas is a public university that values creativity and curiosity among its students. UArk’s Center for Learning and Student Success provides academic development by helping students excel through tutorials and workshops to improve common skills. Students may improve their leadership and interpersonal skills by choosing from over 380 registered student organizations.
UArk has a website dedicated to off-campus housing options. If you’re looking into staying near the campus, you may choose from a range of quality houses and properties; some even offering scenic views. Most houses are either semi or fully furnished, so moving in may be convenient.
Sam Houston State University (Texas)
Sam Houston State University is a public institution that aims to provide quality education and intellectual transformation. Aside from its academic programs, SHSU promotes student development through different extracurricular programs and events organized by the Department of Student Activities. This university also promotes physical wellness through different club sports and outdoor recreational activities.
SHSU provides a list of off-campus apartments within the Huntsville Area. This list provides each property owner’s complete contact information, including the apartment’s website, address, and contact number. The available housing options offer different amenities and utilities, with lease terms ranging from five months to one year. Rental ranges from $475 to $2,975 with different fees and may be subjected to a security deposit.
University of Florida (Florida)
The University of Florida is a public university that strives to impact students through its innovative programs and world-class research facilities. UF offers over 100 undergraduate majors with some programs geared towards research and leadership. Students may choose from over 1,000 campus organizations or do volunteer work through Projects for Peace.
UF maintains a website for students to check a range of property rentals. The university’s “Great Gator Neighbor” project organizes different events and activities for students living off-campus to enjoy. Aside from this, off-campus housing presentations are also organized to hear concerns and give tips to students transitioning into living beyond the campus grounds.
California State University-Chico (California)
The second oldest campus in the California State University system, California State University-Chico is a public Hispanic-serving institution that offers high-value education. Chico State offers over 340 academic programs, including professional certifications and graduate degrees. Students may improve their physical and mental well-being by engaging in recreational sports and choosing from different school centers like WellCat Counseling Center and Wildcat Recreation Center.
Students considering to live outside university grounds may seek help and guidance from the Off-Campus Student Services office. This service is unique among universities since not all schools dedicate an office for off-campus housing. The office offers a comprehensive list of online sites where students can check for apartment and townhouse rentals near the school area.
University of North Carolina Wilmington (North Carolina)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington promotes student engagement and responsible citizenship through its academic programs. Apart from offering a selection of majors, UNCW also has master’s degrees in different fields, including film studies, athletic training, and marine biology. This public university also promotes diversity by offering an International Student Mentor program where student volunteers can help incoming international students.
UNCW offers a website where students can search for the best housing options near the university grounds. Its Off-Campus Student Services offers different programs, such as the Tenant Education Program (TEP), which provides community guidelines and leasing tips. Students may choose from various listings, ranging from one to three bedrooms and different amenities such as pools, fitness centers, and outdoor spaces.
Whitman College (Washington)
The Whitman College is a private institution that develops its students through top-quality liberal education and global experiences. Whitman offers different learning resources: learning centers, tutorial services, and student mentorship. Moreover, the university also offers personal counseling services for its students’ mental well-being.
Whitman maintains a database of its 51 off-campus rental units for both its students and faculty members. Off-campus housing is available for incoming juniors and seniors, who may apply for three properties of their choice. Most rental inclusions, such as utilities and furnishings, may vary, so it’s best to first check with the property owners before signing a contract.
Students in college may choose to live on-campus or off-campus. Off-campus may have its advantages, such as having more freedom, more privacy, and potentially may cost less. There are many properties listed online. Students may check on their preferred school’s website to browse through the listings.
Off-campus properties may vary in price, proximity, and inclusions. It may also differ in its utilities and amenities. It’s best to find a unit that suits your personality and that you’re comfortable living in for the next few years. Before signing any contract, survey the available stores nearby and be mindful of your security. It’s also important to take note of any damages when moving into an apartment.
Lastly, your attitude matters. Be kind to your neighbors and always offer a smile. It’s best to set boundaries and layout responsibilities with your roommates to avoid any conflict. Changes can be difficult, but they can also be a chance for growth. Take the first step to independence and find the best off-campus housing for you!