Skip to main content

The difference between living on and off campus

By Chisom Alaoma

I lived both on campus and off campus so, I am clearly the perfect person to answer any pressing questions you have about either option. I lived in residence (Simcoe Village, specifically) in my first year at the university and moved off-campus with a group of people in my second year. Based on my experience, I've summarized the difference between living on-campus versus off-campus using four main categories: cost $$$$, convenience, support, and social life.

Cost

 

via GIPHY

On campus

If you’re someone who needs lots of privacy and quiet time, you will have to pay more. Single dorms are more expensive than double rooms. So if you’re looking to save money, prepare to live with a roommate. I chose a single dorm because I am rich.

Just kidding. 

I was essentially thrown into living in the double rooms because I registered late and there were no single dorms left. So, I had no choice of the room but, I do know that single rooms are more expensive. Being an introvert, a double room made it easier for me to make friends because it forced me to interact with people - but that may not be the case for everyone. I also had no choice but to meet people who were a bit too much for me. It all depends on your journey, I guess.

Off-campus

Cheap cheap cheap! If you don’t have money, this is the place to be. Living off campus gives you the freedom to choose what kind of place you want. It’s often more affordable, and it gives you control over your privacy and anything else you may need. You can search for the best deals according to your pocket and your terms when you live off-campus. 

When I was searching for a place to live, I searched using Places4StudentsIt shows you hydro bills, internet coverage and many more amenities and areas for living off campus.

Convenience

via GIPHY

On campus

On campus living means you’re close to the school. Do you know those days when you’re just too lazy to get to class? Well, in most cases your dorm is in walking distance, so you won’t have to wake up as early. When I lived on campus, I remember going to class because of the environment in residence - everyone always seemed so busy and focused on getting somewhere, and that made me want to get ready and prepare for my day as well.

Off-campus

Meanwhile, if you choose to live off campus, your convenience depends on location. In some cases, you can find a nice place close to school, and in other cases, you end up living three buses away. If you are one of the latter, say goodbye to participation marks and 8 a.m. classes. But hey, maybe you're closer to the grocery store and that makes up for the distance from school because you can make yourself a hearty breakfast while you're not at your morning classes.

Truthfully, I think it all depends on the individual and their work ethic. I needed to be in an environment that required me to participate which was what residence did for me in my first year of university

Support

via GIPHY

On campus

Living on campus means you’re around people who are trained (and paid) to care about you, look after you, and worry about you. There's a list of people (other than your family) that you can call when things go wrong. On top of that, your rent, utilities, internet, and groceries are all packaged and included in one fee.

Off-campus

Living off campus means you’re ready to face the real world. It’s you, your landlord, and something grownups like to call “bills.” You need to deal with your landlord, settle your instalments on time, and have you heard about utilities? NO? You’re about to be shooketh. I learnt about utilities during my time off-campus, and it was a massive problem for me because after paying my rent, I still had outstanding fees to pay and that took a toll on me and my bank account.

While living off-campus can end up being cheaper, there are more expenses that you have to worry about rather than them being all lumped into one payment. When thinking of moving off-campus, always check and ask about the cost of utilities and see if they are (a) included in the rent payment and (b) affordable.

Social life

via GIPHY

On campus

You have no choice but to be social and honestly; this could be a good or bad thing depending on your person. Living on campus means always being in a school environment, which can make it easier to make friends, meet new people, and establish a sense of community. I recommend being on campus for your first year if you don’t know anyone or if you’re introverted like me.

Off-campus

Depending on how far you are from the university, you may feel detached from the school community. However, through clubs and other activities, you can still meet people in school and other places. Some people choose to live on campus in their first year to help establish a group of friends, then move somewhere off-campus with them for their upper years.

At the end of the day, do what you feel is right. But if you're indecisive, I've made a totally legitimate, scientifically accurate quiz that can let you know what to do. You can find it at the bottom of this post.

via GIPHY

While there’s no right or wrong answer, I think a first-year student who doesn’t know anyone should consider staying in residence until you meet people you know you can’t live without. I lived in residence and met my best friends that I live with now. It was also a great step before moving on to learn about utilities, bills, leases and so much more.

Talking to upper-year students about their experiences can be helpful, but you should also do your research! Make sure you know what you’re getting into before doing anything. The Off-campus Living website can be a good place to start to find resources and assistance.

By Chisom Alaoma