Southern California Logo


Dorm Room Versus Renting: Weighing Your College Housing Options

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

College or university students have a number of housing options from school-run dormitories (dorms) to off-campus apartments or houses. While a dorm is generally more expensive due to what is included, apartments or houses can be equally costly when all needs, such as high-speed Internet and cable, are factored into the price. Some apartment complexes cater to students and are a blend of dormitory and off-campus living.

Several students also can pool their money and rent a luxury house if the price is right. Keep in mind that cooking facilities noted here may be a pro or con, depending on your desire to prepare your own food. Compare expenses and perks for each to decide which is more affordable for your needs. Inside, we'll take a look at pros and cons of student housing options to help you make an informed decision this school year.



  • like-minded community of other students
  • located on campus with easy accessibility to classes, events, library, etc.
  • all furniture included
  • little transportation needed, as close to everything
  • utilities and other perks included in the rent
  • good security to protect residents
  • lots of planned dorm activities
  • assigned parking space for each dorm resident
  • cafeteria or other eating places onsite
  • dorm rental is for the academic school year (may also be a con for some)


  • shared rooms with one or more roommates
  • private rooms are uncommon
  • many rules and regulations to follow
  • shared bathroom facilities, often with an entire dorm wing
  • rent is expensive
  • too noisy to study or sleep at times
  • lack of cooking facilities

Off-Campus Living


  • increased privacy with fewer roommates
  • comparable or lower rental price than dorms
  • private bedrooms possible
  • luxury rentals are available with extra perks
  • quieter environment overall, depending on roommates and rental area
  • backyard to relax if renting a house
  • extras possible, such as a pool, community room or weight room
  • kitchen to cook your own meals


  • few, if any, utilities included in rent
  • rental houses may unknowingly be in foreclosure
  • yard work is the responsibility of the tenants if renting a house
  • must purchase furniture and cleaning supplies
  • little to no security, depending on apartment complex or house rental
  • neighbors who don't want students in their area
  • more square footage to clean
  • lack of parking space
  • commute to campus takes time and planning
  • landlord may not agree to a lease for just the school year (may also be a pro for some)
Share this:


Leave a comment:

* Login in order to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join for Free

Renush aath

We'll cover providing remote support, troubleshooting hardware, looking at users and resources, and how to work with software

... More

About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

View Profile

Become an Expert Contributor

Have some knowledge to share, and want easy and effective exposure to our audience? Get your articles or guides featured on Southern California Homes today! Learn more about being an expert contributor.

Learn More