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Student Housing: Assessing Your Options - Articles Surfing

Moving away from home? To a new city? In the same city? Regardless, you are going to want to find someplace to live. Here are a few things to take into consideration when you move into a new place, and a rundown of your basic housing options.


On campus housing has the benefit of being, well, on campus. However, living in residence often costs much more than living on your own. Oftentimes when you live in residence, you have to buy into a meal plan that is fairly overpriced as well. However, there are benefits to living in residence: you can wake up for class ten minutes before class starts and still be on time!

If you have a meal plan when you are in residence, it means that your meals are prepared for you, which saves you the hassle and time of meal preparation. It also means that sometimes you have to eat at certain times of the day, or that you might not have much selection in your meal choice. Most residences offer students the option of using their meal plan dollars at certain restaurants off-campus, or ordering food in from certain restaurants. Ask your university about their meal-plan, flexibility, and options.

Not all meal-plans are organized the same way. Some meal plans offer you a certain number of dinners a week, and then you can show up and eat your meal and they will count your number of meals. With this type of plan, you can eat as much as you want in one sitting. Other meal plans only give you the choice of showing up and eating when they offer food, but they might offer you the option of signing in a guest for meals occasionally. An entirely different type of meal plan gives you a certain number of dollars on your card, and each menu option is priced. This way you pay for only what you eat, but oftentimes the food is overpriced.

In residence, you might have a roommate. You will probably be sharing your bathroom with many other people. You will not be allowed to cook in your room, but there might be a common cooking area in the building.

Off-campus Student Housing

Sometimes universities or colleges offer off-campus residences, or school owned houses. These residences are sometimes called 'upper year' or 'married student residences.' They typically don't have a mandatory meal plan, though they will allow you to opt-in to partial or full meal plans if you want. These residences are often laid-out in an apartment style. They are generally very close to campus.

Sometimes you can get scholarships or subsidies to help you pay for your residence. Otherwise, often off-campus school-owned housing is more expensive than typical apartments.


You might choose to get an apartment. You might even choose to share an apartment. When looking for housing, you have to take certain things into account. Although you might want to make your decision solely based on money, this is not a good idea. And as far as money goes, are you counting the costs? Does the cost of the apartment include your utilities? Sometimes it is easier if your rent includes utilities because then you don't have to change the utilities into your name, and you don't have to worry about fluctuations in your monthly payments.

Be sure to also remember how you are going to get to school. If you have to take the bus twice a day to and from campus, add that monthly total to your rent. If you have to drive, think of your gas expenses.

Be sure to get an apartment that you like: some people can't abide living in a room without windows, or some people really need to have a bathtub and not simply a shower stall. Make your list of wants and needs before you go looking for places, and be sure to take your potential roommate with you to find a place.

A Room in a House

You might choose to rent an entire house with a group of your friends. This can often be an economical way to live during school. However, be sure that they are friends who you can trust and respect. Moving in with people you party with can be a fast way to lose friends when you want to get down to studying (or vice versa).

You might choose to rent a room in a house with people you don't know. If this is the case, be sure to set out ground rules early. Making a chore list often helps smooth out later disputes.

Lastly, you could get a room in a house that has a family there. Sometimes you can do household chores like cleaning or babysitting to decrease your rent. This is good because you will probably get better home-cooked meals, but it also means that you can't have your friends around partying to all hours.


All of these housing tips relate to one another (for instance, you might want to make a chore list in your apartment, and you need to account for how you're getting to school from a house). Finding a place can be challenging, but once you've found a good one your research will pay off.

Submitted by:

Morgan D. James

Morgan James is the editor of The Guide to Student Loans . Check out The Guide to Student Loans to find out how to make your budget work, and to find out ways to get the money you need for your education.



Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).


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