I planned my move to college; one of my and my parents’ main concerns was that the school only guarantees students three years of on-campus housing. I was sure that I wanted to live on campus for as long as possible, and the idea of having to move off campus at some point gave me anxiety.
After one semester, I had changed my mind completely. The dorm was loud, I had no privacy and disliked how much making friends seemed to depend on who you lived near. Plus, I couldn’t go to bed at 9 p.m. and get up at 6 a.m., like I preferred — at least not if I wanted to be a considerate roommate. Dorm life does not adhere to early bedtimes.
So as a sophomore, I decided to live off campus. I rent an apartment in Blacksburg, VA. And with the fall semester nearly over, I can say that moving off campus has undoubtedly changed my college experience for the better.
Apartment hunting taught me to be independent. I knew absolutely nothing about how to find and rent an apartment. Navigating the waters of rental companies, landlords and leases was stressful and required making a lot of phone calls filled with what were, in my opinion, stupid questions.
My move paid off once I scored an apartment with rent that would cost me less than campus housing. This is a major incentive to make the move away from campus.
Despite the distance, moving away from campus came with a greater appreciation for school itself. Now that I don’t feel like I’m stuck on campus all the time, I find that I actually want to spend more time there. It’s hard to appreciate campus life when daily aggravations begin to add up — whether it’s finding your roommate’s hair everywhere, being kept up too late the night before an exam by your EDM-loving neighbors or waking up to the community bathroom.
Breaking the campus bubble is vital, even if it means moving more than a few blocks away. Renting an apartment in a neighborhood can cause students to feel like a genuine part of the community instead of a guest in the city. It’s a good reminder that the college is not the city, and vice versa.
The simple daily-life advantages of living off campus also add up quickly. Being able to cook meals is a solid step above visiting Market three times a day. Sharing an apartment but not a bedroom allows for privacy, quiet and most importantly, the ability to watch Netflix without headphones. Not having to swipe in at a security desk means freedom of visitors and a sense of ownership over one’s own space. The same goes for not having to deal with RA’s.
Deciding to live on or off campus is a personal choice. Living off campus has made my second year infinitely better than my first. In retrospect, I can hardly believe that I ever wanted to stay on campus for all three years of my housing guarantee.
To those toying with the idea of moving off campus, I encourage you to take the leap. If nothing else, you’ll get to avoid the fire drills.
The Pitt News