Dorms Vs. Apartments Vs. Home: finding a place to live is tricky in college

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By Annika Tomlin, College Times

There are two difficult decisions after high school: where to go to college and where to live while studying. Students can live in the dorm, apartment or remain at home. It’s not the easiest to figure out, but here are four things to consider when making that decision.

FINANCIAL FACTORS

All three options have different price points to consider. Apartments around the college tend to be cheaper or more expensive than living in a dorm. Living at home can be free unless parents choose to ask for rent. Take the time to budget what you can afford.

Utilities are important to consider. Most, if not all, utilities are included in a dorm and at home. The price of electricity, internet, water and sewage, etc., adds up when it comes to living in an apartment.

Food costs money wherever you live. In a dorm, there are meal plans that are offered/required to use while living there. At an apartment, you can buy your own food. Your parents might allow you to continue eating the groceries that they buy, or they might ask you to start pitching in.

Don’t forget to consider amenities like a gym or pool. Dorms usually charge fees to go to both, but apartments don’t always have amenities like that. If using a gym is important to you, make sure you add gym memberships or usage fees in the budget.

SOCIAL LIFE

One of the positive things to come out of college is new friendships— especially in the dorms. Students in apartments can meet new people, but they might not be college students. It’s hard to make new friends while you’re living at home because of commuting. It’s hard to entertain friends in dorm rooms, which don’t allow large gatherings or loud noises. Apartments allow for all kinds of entertainment at any time of day. Living at home also requires a request to have people over and less privacy when they are over.

PERSONAL NEEDS

If you value your privacy, an apartment might be the best option. Everyone needs alone time, but it’s hard to decide if being alone is more important than making new friends or being with your family.

Freedom is another driving factor. Dorms have rules that will limit your freedom, but they have your best interest at heart. An apartment will offer legal restrictions, but it offers the most freedom. Parents will always have rules you must abide by if you lie under their roof.

If you rely on someone taking care of you, like your mom or resident assistant, it’s probably best that you follow that gut instinct and stay with them. Living alone in an apartment is not for the faint of heart. RAs are designed to help make your college experience go by smoothly. Your parents offer a good shoulder to cry on and they’ll probably set up your medical appointments for you. Decide what’s best for your lifestyle.

ACADEMIC IMPACT

Regardless of where you live, homework will have to be done. Determine where is the best place for you to study, write and focus. Roommates can be a distraction that can negatively affect your grade. A designated quiet space is needed to maximize work efficiency.

Living on or around campus gives you access to college resources like libraries or computer labs. Commuting to and from the library is a time-consuming hassle when you have an urgent assignment due. Keep that in mind when deciding

where to live.

Choosing where to live is a hard decision and does not need to be set in stone for your entire time in college. Try living in a dorm for one year and see if it fits, and if not, choose other options until it works. Talk to friends and family to help you make the right decision. CT

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