As an RA for the past three years, I have seen just how eager the majority of college students are to move out of the dorms. They’ve probably liked having all their basic amenities taken care of (food, utilities, etc.), but let’s be honest here: The transition to independent housing means having the freedom to blast music as loudly as desired, host parties, and enjoy one’s own private bathroom. The list goes on.
But along with the excitement are the challenges you should be aware of before moving out on your own. To find out, I asked some Miami University students about their primary concerns. Here are three of the most common concerns they had about off-campus living:
The fear: Conflicting personalities & pent-up tension.
I was surprised to hear students say that they feared “not getting along with my roommates.” It’s a bit counter-intuitive because most people will be choosing to live with their friends, but I think the underlying notion here is that people, although good friends, are aware that living together changes everything. Sharing an apartment, for example, introduces a wide range of living behaviors and personal habits—temperature setting, cleanliness, house chores, etc. If these issues aren’t addressed candidly, they can build up over time and start to negatively affect the atmosphere in the house.
The resolution: A house chore chart & rules.
Having a chart of what chores need to be completed and rotating through a schedule helps. Set it within the first week of moving in so that you get in the habit of cleaning right away. Also, when it comes to rules, make sure everyone is treated fairly. Just because someone that you’re better friends with turns the thermostat up higher than allowed doesn’t mean it’s OK. Rules are rules.
The fear: “Where am I going to get my food now?”
As a freshman, you were either impressed by on-campus dining or did everything you could to avoid it. The perk to eating at the dining hall though was getting a university discount for being a fully-paid meal plan buyer.
The resolution: Bargain shopping for groceries!
However, it’s more likely that you weren’t really receiving a “discount.” Most students aren’t really discouraged at the lack of a meal plan because they have their own kitchen. Regardless of cooking ability, this means they will save significant amounts of money by not having to pay for ridiculously overpriced meal plans. It just means they will be eating less at the dining halls, and developing their culinary skills on the stove.
Fear: How will I get to class? I’m so far away!
Leasing your own house or apartment may give you the freedom to do however you like, but sometimes it’s not always in the best of locations.
Resolution: Take the bus! Or another form of transportation…
Depending on your circumstances, you may need to walk a longer than average distance, purchase a bike, hitch rides from your friends, or make that early bus stop everyday. But most would agree that it’s hardly a difficult transition to make—you’ve just got to find a routine that works for you. Besides, a little extra exercise couldn’t hurt.
Fear: A lack of on-campus engagement.
Another related challenge is staying involved with the campus after moving off. Most would agree that one of the major keys to an excellent college experience is being engaged—whether it’s through a student org, volunteering, or participating in a community group.
Resolution: Make an effort to be involved in what you want to be doing.
As long as you make a conscious effort to not allow your physical distance to hinder your campus connection, you will be better off than most in maintaining that strong college balance.
For many of my own friends who have graduated, the housemate stories are always the most frequently told. While living off campus is often the main element of college that creates the richest memories, it’s important to step back and weigh both the pro’s and con’s of your future living situation before you make a binding decision.
What are some of the concerns you have had/currently have with regard to living off campus? Tell us on Facebook!
– Tim, RentShare Intern