On-campus vs off-campus student accommodation. Which one to choose? | Student Reviews & University Rankings EDUopinions

On-campus vs off-campus student accommodation. Which one to choose?


For many, going to university implies moving out of your parent’s place. You will see that many schools have rooms that can be rented by students like you at a fixed cost. Another option is to find accommodation in the community, town, or city outside of your campus. Each option comes with its pros and cons and is right for different types of students.

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In this article, EDUopinions presents the advantages and disadvantages of living on and off-campus.  We hope that this will help you to identify your personal needs and hence choose the most appropriate type of accommodation for you.

In the context of this article, “off-campus housing” refers to living in accommodation outside of the university campus, but not to at your parents’.

What are the advantages of living on-campus?

Living on the campus of your university can be a very fun experience. You will be on a campus where several hundred or thousands of students live, socialise, and organise activities together. In addition, campuses usually have a security service to ensure that students are safe where they live.

Living on campus can also be a strategic choice from a practical and financial point of view. Practically speaking, living on your university campus means that you are just a few steps away from your classes (so you can sleep in a bit longer) and you have easy access to university resources. In addition, you do not need to hustle to find a room in a competitive housing market. Indeed, universities almost always have available rooms for their students. Campuses are also becoming increasingly friendly towards individuals with reduced mobility.

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Financially speaking, even though on-campus housing is usually more expensive than off-campus housing, it covers numerous unexpected costs such as WiFi, electricity, gas, water, security, repair services (unless you are being reckless), campus gym, furniture in the room and in common areas, etc. Some campus fees also include a meal plan. In that case, you don’t need to cook nearly as often as in an off-campus room. You might not even need to cook at all.

Finally, in the event that one of your dorm mates has to leave their room, the cost of the empty room falls on the school and not on you and the other students. If you were to live off-campus, the landlord would require the remaining inhabitants to cover the costs of the vacant room until a new person rents the room.

What are the disadvantages of living on-campus?

On-campus housing is almost always more expensive and restrictive than off-campus rooms. Here are a few examples of restrictions and hassles you might face:

  • Moving room every year
  • Gender and age separation
  • A mandatory meal plan that you don’t use because the food is bad
  • Roommate (this can also be a positive thing)

Moreover, the campus fees are fixed. No matter how much or how little you use the campus infrastructure, you will pay the same amount as others.

Life never really stops on campus. Hence, it can be overwhelming at times. It can even become a bubble from which it is difficult to get out. This leads students to enjoy their on-campus time, but miss out on the great activities and life outside of their bubble.

On-campus housing can sometimes mean that you will live with more than 10 people in the same space. Hence, keeping your common areas clean can be a real challenge, on top of the noise and the intrinsic difficulty of sharing a house with so many people.

What are the advantages of living off-campus?

City - BarcelonaAn enormous advantage when living off-campus is that you can choose where you live. You are not bound to the rooms, amenities, and prices set by the campus. Rooms in town are usually more affordable than on-campus (though that depends on the city). They also enable you to live with non-students or students from other universities. Hence, you are less easily trapped by the campus bubble and can more easily get to know the environment outside of the campus. However, this does not mean that you must give up on-campus activities; living off-campus simply means that you can separate things more easily by enjoying campus when you want it, rather than all the time.

Off-campus rooms are independent of the university. Therefore, you can continue to rent it even after graduating or stopping your studies, unlike an on-campus room.

What are the disadvantages of living off-campus?

You need to choose your off-campus accommodation wisely, otherwise, you might end up living far. That would mean that you live far from your on-campus friends, far from classes, you need to wake up earlier and come home later which makes you lose time for studying and taking part in activities, etc. This, of course, results in extra transportation costs. Moreover, if you live far, your on-campus friends will probably visit you less because they are used to accessing everything quickly. Overall, you can easily disconnect from campus life if you don’t make active efforts to stay involved. This, however, might be seen as an advantage of living off-campus.

Off-campus housing rarely comes with a security service, and you almost always have to pay monthly fees for the wifi, water, electricity and gas bills. Additionally, if one of your flatmates leaves, the costs of the vacant room will fall on you and the remaining flatmates until you find a new tenant.

If you have a scholarship, make sure to check its terms and conditions as some will only cover on-campus housing costs

Check out our article on what students think about their accommodation in Europe.

In conclusion, should you live on or off-campus?

On-campus housing is a great university service for students who are just moving out of their parent’s house. It offers a comfortable setting with easy access to various resources and a fixed fee that includes numerous services, amenities, and access to campus infrastructures. However, students who are older or are looking for more independence might prefer to live off-campus where they can endorse more responsibilities and have better control over their daily life. At EDUopinions, we advise you to carefully review what each option means with regard to your expectations and the type of life you want to have while studying. Don’t forget to take into account the practical factors:

  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Roommate/privacy/shared spaces
  • Friendships and social life
  • Costs
  • Security

Find the universities that interest you on our website and check out the verified reviews posted by thousands of students. The “location” and “accommodation” sections of each review might provide valuable insights into the quality of student housing and infrastructure offered by the schools.

Now it is time to learn how to find the best and most affordable student accommodation and make sure to check out the complete list of things you need for university.

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Written by
Zohar Fiszman is a senior student at University College Utrecht, where he studies politics, psychology and crime. Born and raised in Belgium, his international education paths has fostered the desire to empower high-quality educational opportunities.

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