Should You Live in the Dorms or an Apartment in College?

Should you live in the dorms or an apartment in college? Advice for all college students trying to save money | Cort Furniture Rental student packages | College with Caitlyn

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of CORT. All opinions are 100% mine.

I’ve lived in the same dorm structure every year in college, and I’m highkey debating switching to off-campus housing last year. Living in the dorms has its advantages, but more and more of my friends are moving off campus and I’m always so jealous of their cute (and much larger spaces) when I visit!

It’s getting to be the time of year when students are thinking about where they’re going to live next year and who their roommate is going to be, so I’d thought I’d share my pros and cons list of living in the dorms and of getting an apartment to help some of y’all out!

Living in the dorms

Save money on gas

The biggest thing I can think of right off the bat is having to pay for less gas. This could be because you don’t even bother to bring your car to campus (which would save you hundreds right off the bat) or because you won’t be driving to classes (hopefully) like a lot of commuters do.

Closer to campus

Living in a dorm means you’re already on campus and don’t really have an excuse to be late to class. I mean it only takes a max of 15 minutes to walk from my dorm to the building on the very end of campus where my math classes are. Or if I’m super cold or running late, it only takes 10 minutes.

So waking up in a frenzy because I forgot to set my alarm (this has totally happened to me) is no issue because it’ll only take me 20 minutes max to get to class. However, if I lived off campus and this happened, I’d probably just go back to bed. What’s the point of rolling into class thirty to forty minutes late because not only did you sleep in, but you couldn’t find parking?

Basically, living on campus seems like it may be the best decision for people who are usually running late to class.

Pay less for housing

My dorm is $3100 for a full school year, and I have one of the nicer dorms with a kitchen and en-suite bathroom. A typical “college” apartment around my school is anywhere between $400-$800 dollars a month. So for nine months, and assuming you have one roommate, that would add up to be $1800 to $3600. From this it seems like getting an apartment would be the better option, but you still have to add on furniture and since you also don’t have to pay for any furniture while living in the dorms. But all my dorm furniture is so drab and is seriously depressing and one of the biggest reasons I want to get an apartment.

It’s also good to take note of whether you have a scholarship to cover your housing on campus. My scholarship package provides about two-thirds of my dorm expenses, but living in an apartment would all be out of my own pocket.

But college housing has to all be paid up front, meaning you have to take out a loan. Whereas apartment rent is monthly, making it a little easier to manage and not have to take out another loan.


Forced into meal plan

I think the one thing that really makes living on campus expensive is the food. All the meal plans at NKU range from $1700 to $2000, but most options sit right at $1845. This is about double the amount of money I would spend on groceries and eating out would I buy all my own food. Meaning, meal plans are way overpriced. Plus, with my class and work schedule, I can’t even make it to the dining halls all the time so I still have to buy my own groceries constantly. Just another unnecessary expense.

More likely to attend campus events

Students who live on campus are like 98% more likely to go to on campus events.

Okay, I may have made that percentage up, but every single event I went to for freshmen said something along those lines so it’s probably true anyway. And I can attest that some of my friends who do live off campus just show up for classes and that’s it. Usually, these are friends that live more than five minutes away though, and the apartment I’m looking at is literally right across the street from my school’s gym. A.k.a. a dream come true.

Plus, I rarely go to school events anyway. Oops.

Living in an apartment

Don’t have to pay for overpriced meal plan

First things first, you won’t have to pay for one of those overpriced meal plans! But if you find yourself on campus a lot, you may have to buy a commuter meal plan because even though they’re still overpriced, it’d be cheaper than just buying on campus food with your own money. I always cringe inside when I see people paying with their credit cards in the dining halls.

Since you won’t be able to rely on the dining halls anymore, you will have to hit up the grocery store all the time. My friends who live in apartments usually go every week and try to spend around $40 every week.

If you can stick to that budget, that’ll be only $1280 for the whole school year (assuming each semester is 16 weeks). Sooooo way cheaper than a meal plan.

Fight for parking

The worst thing about living off campus is having to absolutely pay for a parking pass and fight for a parking spot on top of that. Well, unless the apartment complex is within walking distance or you’re determined to save money and just take the bus.

Having to buy furniture

One thing I think students always forget about is actually furnishing their apartment. You can’t just live in an empty apartment! Well, you can but that would be insanely uncomfortable and I 10/10 would not recommend since I’ve had to live in temporarily unfurnished homes between multiple family moves.

Related: Nine things I Learned Growing up a Military Brat

Furnishing a whole apartment from scratch can cost about $3000, and your girl does not have that kind of money. Especially since I’m going to be studying abroad next semester.

But I actually found a much better way to furnish an apartment that has me really considering leasing an apartment for my senior year. CORT is an amazing company that will completely furnish your home (three rooms) for students for between $99 and $119 a month.

CORT furniture rental for college students

They have four different packages depending on how you want your furniture set up. But no matter which package you choose, you get a sofa, cocktail table, floor lamp, headboard, mattress set, chest, nightstand, and a table lamp.

Holy cow right? I was so surprised by how much furniture you get for such a little price! Like if I bought all that stuff on my own, even if some of it was thrifted, it would cost me at least $1000. And then I would have to haul it back a forth between my apartment and house between school years. On top of that, I would probably have to sell all of it at the end of the school year too because I plan to move across the country back to the PNW after graduation.

Related: College Apartment Furniture: How to Stay On Trend and Under Budget 

Renting furniture is also a great idea because then I can spend more money on things to make my apartment more me. So I can hit up all the home decor stores and spend all my money there on things that will make my apartment trendy but still under my budget since I won’t have to worry about buying hundreds of dollars of furniture that I’ll just have to get rid of in a few months. Basically, I’m highly considering using CORT next year if when I get my own apartment.

Risk of becoming typical commuter

Moving off campus puts you at a risk to become that student. You know, the one who just fights for parking goes to class, complains about parking, and goes home. Which seems very likely of me considering I don’t do much on campus at the moment besides hit up the gym.

Possibility of long days

My friends who commute say they get frustrated when they have hours between classes because they have nothing to do and if they go home they won’t come back. This is a good chance to get a head start on homework, though. And I never go back to my dorm between classes anyway because if I do, then I know I won’t get any work done. Instead, I hit up the campus Starbucks and get to work.

So this may be a pro but it also may be a con depending on how strong your willpower to stay on campus happens to be.

So these are all of the pros and cons I’ve listed out for myself about whether I should lease an apartment next year. Right now I’m really leaning towards getting an apartment so I need to get on those applications!

Do you live on or off campus?

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