How awesome would it be to have an apartment of your own? It would give you your own space and freedom. It would also give you more bills and a landlord. Off-campus living has many great advantages and plenty of disadvantages to consider before making a move into your own apartment.
Let’s start with the obvious. There is no RA looking over your shoulder. You do not need to share a bathroom with a dozen other people. You have autonomy to do what you want to do. If you have the ability to swing an apartment of your own, then you do not need to deal with a roommate. You can be as messy or as clean as you like with no one to criticize you, except maybe a parent on periodic visits. Your own apartment also allows you to bring home dates as you wish. These are all important parts of your development into an adult.
Con: Missing Out
There is a reason the Princeton Review puts out a list of the top party schools. Campus living can be fun and, if you are not there, you can miss out on a lot. This year, the University of Iowa topped the list of party schools. It also came in first on the “Lots Of Hard Liquor” list and forth on the “Lot Of Beer” list. These things are not going to come to you if you are in your apartment. Other fun and academic activities are easier to access when living on campus.
Pro: Working Through The Summer
The hope is that you have a job that allows you to work around your class schedule and has no problem with you leaving for two or three months in the summer. The reality is that that is probably not the case. Most jobs that are okay with you leaving in the summer are intern positions or low paying. Having your own apartment will allow you to keep the job. Of course there is a catch 22 situation to this. You need the apartment to keep the job and you need the good job to keep the apartment.
Con: No Credit
Apartments can be expensive. Look at Boston apartments as an example. According to RentalBeast.com, an average Boston apartment can run about $1,881 per month. They are not just going to give you this apartment because of your good looks. You will need first and last month’s rent, a security deposit, and a credit history. If you have no credit history, you may need to come up with an additional deposit or be able to show that you have a strong income. If none of that works, then mom and dad may need to cosign for you.
Pro: Building Credit
You may have no credit now, but establishing a payment history can help create a good credit account. Experian and TransUnion report rental payments as positive credit. If this is important to you then ask your landlord to report lease payments to the credit bureaus. Also, utilities and telephone bills that are paid on time will all show as positive reports towards your credit rating.
Con: Financial Aid Won’t Cover It
If you have a good job that covers rent, then an off-campus apartment may work for you. If you are working from a smaller salary and financial aid, talk to you student financial adviser. Financial aid and student loans generally do not cover living expenses that are not on campus.