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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.

Dormitories

Pros

  • 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)

Cons

  • 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

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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)
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About The Author

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

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