Off-campus housing is essentially just private rental housing. In practice, the term is generally used to mean housing marketed specifically at students. Many students transition to off-campus housing after their freshman year. Some students choose off-campus housing from the beginning. Here is a quick guide to what you need to know about off-campus housing.
Off-campus housing, by definition, is outside the university premises. That means you can literally take your choice of location. For example, you’ll probably find off-campus housing, literally, right next door to on-campus housing. You will also probably find off-campus housing in completely different parts of town.
This means that you can choose your housing based on your priorities. For example, do you want to be near the campus or do you want to be near the main commercial areas? Maybe you’d prefer to be in an area with plenty of green space.
Staying at on-campus housing is a lot like staying with your parents. It’s safe and comfortable (if sometimes cramped). At the same time, it’s someone else’s house so you have to follow their rules. Just like at your parent’s house, these rules are generally set with good intentions. Realistically, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to work for you.
With off-campus living, you sign a tenancy agreement, you get your keys and you get on with your life. If you have a problem, you call your landlord, or more likely their agent. They deal with it. Otherwise, you’re seen as a grown adult and left alone to be a grown adult.
The only real point of caution here is that you need to make sure that you’re signing up with a reputable landlord or agency. Agencies tend to be the safer option as they’re generally easier to research. Your college/student associations may have recommended agencies. You can also just use the regular internet to find reputable, student-friendly agencies like Wharton Rentals.
If you understand the basics of how to run a house, living off-campus can actually work out more affordable than living on-campus. It will certainly give you a lot more flexibility. With on-campus living, you will generally pay rent inclusive of all utilities and facilities and sometimes meals as well.
With off-campus housing, you will generally have a choice between having bills included and having them separate. You may be given the option of having cleaning included. This is, however, something which is usually very easy to organize yourself if you wish. Alternatively, you can save money by doing your own cleaning. It really is easy when you know how.
What you won’t get is meals and this is a large part of the reason why many students transition to off-campus living as soon as they can. On-campus cooking is generally decent. At the end of the day, however, campus canteens are pretty much like canteens at school. When you’re in charge of your own meals, you can meal-plan, shop, and cook how and when you want.
You may have to buy some of your own furniture. It is, however, increasingly common for off-campus housing to be furnished or at least part-furnished. Even if it isn’t, your landlord may provide some furniture if you ask.