When I thought of going to college, I didn’t think I’d be living “on my own” until the end of those four years, IF that. You don’t really consider what would happen if you didn’t have the opportunity to live on campus. Everything you associate with the big, bad college dream revolves around living a stone’s throw away from… well, everything.
When my roommate and I got an average dorm-lottery time slot, we still didn’t consider living off campus. Then, we (somehow) were faced with this living option for our sophomore year: a room, previously designated as a single (AKA for one person and not two), not only isolated by being on the opposite side of campus from most sophomores, but by being at the very end of the hallway on the lowest floor of an all-girls, deteriorating building. To roughly translate: it was a jail cell.
(Read more about this housing disaster when
it was actually happening to me: click here)
Could you argue that I’m exaggerating or that we didn’t even give it a chance? Absolutely, and we wanted to ensure that we weren’t acting like privileged b*tches. So, we did some investigating… after seeing the room ourselves, talking with our parents, talking with multiple administrators, and even talking with the person (remember, it was a single) who was living in the room at the time, we made the decision to move off campus to preserve our mental health and overall sanity.
I didn’t realize it then, but deciding to move off campus was seriously one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Why is living off campus so incredible?
The personal space.
Hanna (my roommate) and I are incredibly lucky because we both have our own bedrooms and bathrooms. This is definitely not the case for all off campus living situations, but in whatever situation, living off campus inherently provides a place for you to just… be alone.
Many people ask me how that is any different than having your own designated space in a dorm; just the act of getting off campus to get home allows a separation between your college life and your personal life. They’re not so closely intertwined like in living in a dorm.
I feel like my room here is actually my room. I live in a home. It just makes me feel so much more comfortable and then that feeling spreads to my overall mental health in a big way. And I’m always looking forward to doing little house projects or art pieces that illustrate what we’ve put into making this place our home in RVA.
(Picture to the right = our new Christmas wreath from Home Goods!)
I can’t remember a time in my life that I didn’t want to be more independent than I was at the time. I thought I’d get ultimate independence once I was in college but I still felt trapped in a culture that still constricted me. I would study at Starbucks just to get out of my head in a way that I just couldn’t at the library.
I clean my house, I stock my kitchen, I keep it running and livable; I used to feel so gross in my dorm room because there seemed to be so many things out of my control, even in the place that I “lived.”
I don’t feel like a kid being babysat. Now I control how much “college” I want in my life and when I want “college” to show up.
The way my perceptions changed about college.
Last year when I was living in a dorm, all I ever wanted to do was get off campus. I didn’t have a car but I would find every way possible to get an escape.
This year, because I never have to worry about getting personal space and time to decompress, I find myself wanting to be on campus so much more. I think I’ve found a healthy balance where I get to enjoy college as much as I want to without being forced so much into this culture that I don’t want ANY part in it. It’s all up to me.
Sounds pretty great, right? While I truly believe it’s the best fit for me, I don’t think everyone should try living off campus…
Who would love living off campus?
doesn’t usually put their social life as a top priority
has access to good transportation and doesn’t mind a small commute
has the financial capability or support to rent and maintain a home
wants more of a life outside of their college or university
doesn’t just want to move off campus because “everyone/their friends are doing it”
sees themselves living off campus for at least a year
If you have any questions about my experience, I’d be more than happy to answer them. You can contact me here. Thanks for reading!