College and gradate students encounter numerous costs and expenses while they pursue their degrees. Indeed, students often need to pay tens of thousands of dollars in tuition expenses and living costs needed to cover food and housing while they are a student. Although it might be more convenient to live on campus to be closer to class and other activities, living off campus to save money is a viable strategy in many instances.
For the entirety of the seven years I spent in college and law school, I lived on campus. I liked the social atmosphere of the on-campus experience, and it was convenient to be close to class, extra-curricular activities, and other aspects of campus life. Also, it was just easier to live on campus in some ways since I did not need to deal with a landlord, purchase my own furniture, provide a deposit, or deal with any of the other troubles associated with renting a place.
However, living off campus to save money can help reduce your educational expenses and impact the amount of money you need to borrow in order to attend college or graduate school. Off-campus housing is often cheaper than on-campus housing in most instances. Colleges likely know that people wish to live on campus for the convenience associated with being closer to the action, and they seem to increase prices accordingly. When I was in law school in the District of Columbia, for instance, my school charged the same price for a room in on-campus housing that could have paid for my own place if I lived off campus.
Another way how living off campus to save money is achievable in a variety of circumstances is with the cost of food. Students who live on campus often need to buy a meal plan to on-campus dining halls. This is because many on-campus housing options do not come with kitchens, so students need to be able to get food through a meal plan to on-campus dining halls. Moreover, even if residence halls have kitchens, colleges sometimes force all on-campus students to purchase a meal plan so that they can help subsidize the on-campus dining system.
If you live off campus, you will likely have a kitchen and should be able to prepare your own meals. Cooking for yourself is generally far cheaper than participating in an on-campus meal plan. Of course, students may need to learn how to cook (which was a big deal for me since I only know how to cook like four things!) but living off campus to save money makes sense because you can save money on living costs.
Furthermore, living off campus to save money is also viable because you can typically have more roommates in off-campus housing than you can if you lived on campus. When you live on-campus, you are usually limited in the amount of roommates you can have and there is a limited variety of housing available. However, if you live off-campus, you can choose to live in all kinds of housing, including apartments, houses, and by yourself if you want.
Many of my friends in college took living off campus to save money to another level by renting houses with a ton of roommates. If I remember correctly, some of my friends lived in a house with seven roommates. Since they had seven people splitting the cost of the house, they were able to save a ton of money on rent and utilities and living in a house with lots of roommates can be a unique experience.
As previously mentioned in prior articles on this website, living off campus to save money works especially well if you can live with parents or other relatives while attending college. If you can crash with relatives, you can save almost all of the money you might have spent on housing and food costs as a student. The only additional expense that you might have is a car, but this price pales in comparison to the money you can save living off campus to save money.
Living with relatives during school requires some thought. Much of the experience of college involves getting to know your classmates and having social experiences with other students. Indeed, the social connections you make in college may be more important to you later in your life than any of the information you learned in class. It is harder to socialize with students while living off campus with family, and this is definitely not for everyone.
It should be noted that there are other advantages to living off campus to save money than merely reducing your overhead. Off-campus housing is often better and larger, and it is more likely that you will have your own bathroom and other amenities if you live off campus. Moreover, having some distance between you and the social scene on campus can help you focus on your studies.
All told, living off campus to save money is a viable option for many college and graduate students. Off-campus housing is often cheaper and may allow students to reduce their food costs and other expenses. In addition, living off campus can help students focus more on their studies and have a college experience that is more fulfilling than what they might attain while living on campus.