I lived in Smith-Steeb my freshman year, so I had it pretty good. Super nice rooms, full service on-campus food options very close by, and an unlimited number of people to turn to if I needed help or advice. Don’t get me wrong, I love living off campus and I love my house now, but there are definitely times when living in the dorms seemed so much simpler.
When you live in a dorm, you pay a lump sum at the beginning of the semester to cover all of your food and housing fees, and that’s that. When you live off campus, you have to pay bills! It sounds crazy and way too adult-like, but it’s true.
Bills are definitely the worst part of living off campus. Now that you’re responsible every month not only for rent, but for gas, electric, cable/Internet and water, you need to be way better about managing your money and learning to budget. Here are some apps to help you.
Having to go grocery shopping and cook meals is also a big adjustment when moving off campus. You no longer have access to pre-made food whenever you want it (unless you get a commuter meal plan).
Doing your own grocery shopping seems great — you’re able to buy whatever food you want without your mom there to say no, but it’s really important that you are actually getting everything you need to maintain a healthy diet. Also, it is important to get things you know you can cook, and will actually eat. Here are some easy recipes to get you started.
The last thing I think is really important to consider before you move into your off-campus apartment or house in the fall is your relationship with your roommates. I got lucky. I met my current roommates on Facebook, when we all just needed a place to live, and now they are four of my best friends.
If you are living with people who are already your friends, it is important to work hard to keep that relationship in tact. Whether it’s about whose turn it is to vacuum the living room or who didn’t empty the dishwasher, there will be arguments in your home. It’s not always easy living harmoniously with several different people on different schedules.
But I can promise you, if you put in the effort to keep a happy environment in your house, it will definitely be worth it! A little work goes a long way, so it is important to just remember to pick up after yourself and remember that you don’t have any parents to clean up after you anymore.
Living off campus with four roommates has been the best experience I could have asked for. This article isn’t meant to scare anyone away! Just remember that with moving off campus comes a lot of independence, and you have to be prepared to seize it and make the most of it!
One last tip: buying a house pet is going to seem like the best idea you’ve ever had. Chances are, it’s not. Pets are a HUGE responsibility, so make sure you do all research necessary on the care for an animal, and make sure you talk to your landlord to see if pets are even allowed. Think before you adopt!