The pros and cons of living off campus
There comes a point in every Augie student’s career where they transition into uncharted territory: living off-campus. For some, it’s a celebratory moment where independence is gained. For others, the thought is scary. I mean living next door to townies? How terrifying!!!
But as one of those terrifying townies, I can attest that we’re not that bad. And neither is living off-campus. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect; it can have its downsides, too. But overall, living off-campus is a memorable and fun experience.
I consider myself to be Augustana’s leading student expert in living off-campus simply because I’ve lived off-campus all four years. My first three years were spent at Verlinden Hall, located in East Moline aka the gem of the Quad Cities, and this year I’m living in a senior house near campus. Through my many years of experience, I’ll walk you through the pros and cons of living off-campus and some helpful tips when searching for your senior house.
• Fewer Rules – Don’t get me wrong, there will still be plenty of rules to follow (unless your landlord is an anarchist, which I wouldn’t count on). But compared to residence halls and TLAs, you’ll have fewer rules to worry about thanks to your increased privacy…which leads me to my next pro.
• More Privacy – You and your roommates won’t have the landlord checking on you all the time, and your neighbors won’t be in as close proximity. This allows for more privacy for you and your roommates.
• Less Rowdy Neighbors – This one isn’t a guarantee. In fact, as I write this, my neighbors three houses down are driving up and down the street in their loud car. However, compared to living on campus, there’s less you’ll have to deal with. No more worrying about the people who live above or below you.
• More Space – Chances are you’ll be living in a house so you’ll have more square footage at your disposal than you’ve been used to. Even better, you’ll have a yard! Some houses will even have porches and patios. On those warmer days of the school year, take advantage of this by soaking in the sun with your roommates.
• Cheaper – Finally, living off-campus in the Quad Cities will be one of your cheapest (if not the cheapest) year of housing at Augie. Rent is very affordable compared to many college towns, which means you won’t have to break your bank.
• Less Community – One of the great parts about living on-campus is the community feel. Your friends are closer to you, sometimes right down the hallway. But off-campus housing is spread out, meaning many of your friends will live a decent trek away. You can still have some friends live close to you, but many others will not.
• Farther from Campus – Your house won’t be on campus so you’ll obviously have a longer walk. This means you’ll have to leave earlier to get to classes, which can be a drag. Also, let me take this time to get on my high horse and advocate for walking or biking to class. Yes, your classes might be farther away, but that doesn’t mean you need to drive. Get some exercise and save the planet.
• More Responsibility – Unlike in the past, you’ll have more adult responsibilities. Paying for utilities, more areas to clean, and a yard to keep nice all compound to more responsibility than you might be used to.
• Fewer Study Areas – Unfortunately, there won’t be a study lounge you can go to, and the farther distance can disincentivize going to the library. Studying at home is an option, but this can get old quick. There will be more distractions, but that also might just be the senioritis kicking in.
• Don’t Get Taken Advantage Of – Don’t pounce on the first house you see. Take your time and look at multiple houses so you can compare prices and find out where the market is. Also be sure to read the lease closely before you sign. I’d suggest having your parents look it over, too.
• Make Sure It’s Livable – Remember, it’s a college house so it doesn’t have to be perfect. But you also don’t want to be in a place that’s unlivable. Do a walk-thru before you sign (the inside is sometimes a lot better or a lot worse than the outside). Also ask around and see what the reputation of the landlord is. How well they maintain their properties says a lot about what kind of landlord they will be.
I hope this information will help ease your concerns, bolster your excitement and prepare you for living off-campus. You may not be an expert like me quite yet, but you’re sure on your way!
Justin is a rising senior, double majoring in biology and neuroscience with a minor in creative writing. This summer, he conducted research at Baylor College of Medicine, where he investigated the use of several brain imaging scans to detect early structural and functional differences in young mice with Alzheimer's, with the hope of eventually developing an early diagnostic tool for the disease.