Choosing Where to Live During College

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Where you live during your college years is very important, and may be a more difficult decision than one might expect. Your living situation can effect on your overall happiness and academic success. In some cases, you may not have a choice. Many colleges require students to live on campus, or finances may keep you from moving out of your parents’ house. If you do have options, read the pros and cons of each before making a decision.


Dorms and Residence Halls

  • Pros: Less expensive than apartments, allows you better access to campus amenities, saves time on traveling to classes and other campus activities, more likely to socialize with fellow students and be involved in extracurricular activities.
  • Cons: Adjusting to dorm life can be difficult for many students. Dorms are often crowded and loud, making sleeping and studying difficult. Potential for roommate problems.

In most cases, living on campus is the best options for those looking for the traditional college experience. If you’re planning to move into the dorms, read our list of dorm room essentials.


  • Pros: Independent living that many college students desire. More space and privacy than a dorm.
  • Cons: More expensive than other options.  Requires consciousness with bill payments and other household responsibilities. Potential problems with the apartment or management.

Apartment living is probably what most students would choose if they weren’t required to live on campus and if money were no object. While having your own apartment can be great, there are potential pitfalls. See our guide to finding the right apartment.

Home (Commuting)

  • Pros: Least expensive option for those that live fairly close to campus. Doesn’t require any adjustment to dorms or living on your own. No need to seek out reliable roommates.
  • Cons: Does not provide the independence that most college students want, may be isolated from other students and removed from college life. Time spent traveling to campus for classes and activities.

While living at home during some or all of your college years may be a big sacrifice for those seeking independence, there are significant financial advantages. Money that would otherwise be spent on rent, utilities, and other living expenses can instead be spent on tuition and other education costs.

Luckily, whatever choice you make is not permanent. You can change the next term or when your lease is up. In fact, most students will change living arrangements at least once during college.