Living Off Campus: The Best and Worst Parts of Breaking Free from College Dorm Life

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 28: Students go about their business at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as the prospect of billions of dollars in cuts looms for California after voters turned down a suite of tax and budget-reform measures in a special election this month to deal with the massive state budget crises May 28, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. In response, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed sweeping cuts to social services including eliminations of cash assistance for 1.3 million impoverished state residents, making California the only state with no welfare program, closing 80 percent of the state parks, and slashing education and vocational programs and grants. Medi-Cal insurance coverage for dialysis and breast and cervical cancer treatment for those over age 65 would stop, as well as non-emergency care for undocumented immigrants. With cuts to prisons, rehabilitation and sentencing, non-violent, non-serious offenders would be set free a year early. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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Moving off campus is a huge step in your college career. It’s almost like you’re a real, live adult: you’re living on your own (with people you choose), you’re grocery shopping, and you’re throwing sick-ass house parties. These activities (among others — like paying rent and battling the raccoons that terrorize your trash cans) characterize real life, and the skills you learn from paying rent and entertaining belligerent guests will carry over into your post-college life.

Yet, both your feet are not quite in the adult world. As a college student, you may find yourself clinging to campus life, longing for extended, overly-heated dining hall discussions about twerking and Sartre, or wishing there was some campus employee you could call about your rat problem who would resolve it for free.

Alas, living off campus is bittersweet. Here are some of the best and worst things to look forward to.

BEST: Throwing house parties

Dorm parties are fun when you’re a freshman, but as you age and mature, you may find yourself repulsed by sticky floors, trash-covered couches, and posters of Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe. Living off campus, you can throw sick (and spacious) parties without fear of campus security interrupting the fun. There may still be sticky floors, but at least you finally have the space to incorporate cool arm moves into your dancing.

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WORST: Cleaning forever (after house parties)

When you live in a bigger place, naturally, there’s more space that's going to get disgusting, and you're going to have to clean. Even worse is coordinating schedules to clean, take out the trash, do the dishes, and shovel when it snows. Adulthood is a bitch.

BEST: Getting away from campus

It’s nice to feel like you can flee campus to your off-campus enclave, especially during finals, when everyone is running from library to library with furrowed brows, clutching their backpack straps, and buying Adderall in dark corners. There’s something to be said for not sleeping where you learn, which can be incredibly stressful.

WORST: Ugh, Living so far from campus

Now that you have to walk an extra two blocks to class, it really just makes more sense to stay in bed.

BEST: Cooking good food

Finally, you can break free from the monotony of dining hall food and stop paying exorbitant amounts to be on the meal plan (because let’s be real — you haven’t eaten breakfast since middle school). Shopping for groceries and cooking awesome shit is rewarding and stress-reducing. Also: dinner parties!

WORST: Missing out on dining hall camaraderie

We all know that the joys of the dining hall have little to do with food; it’s about community. It’s about rolling in after you bombed a final and finding a friend to let you vent about it while you eat your feelings in kiddie cereal.

BEST: Enjoying a backyard

Backyards are one of the greatest features of the off-campus house, or really any house. You have your own personal, grassy (or grass-strewn / concrete) space to barbecue, jazzercise, tan, drink, or party without campus security on your back. 

WORST: Dealing with the po-po

Now, if you mess up big time — let's say you black out and insist on taking laps around your house naked — you'll get more than just a slap on the wrist from campus security. You'll have to deal with real cops, who'll rush to your place after a grouchy old neighbor files a noise complaint because neither of them can find anything better to do.

BEST: Quality bonding with your closest friends

Living together off-campus can bring you and your fellow roomies closer, especially as many of your other, campus-dwelling friends refuse to hang out with you because the five minute walk to your place seems unreasonable.

WORST: Ruining relationships with your closest friends

Passive aggression is the number one killer of relationships. This is a particular risk for friends living together in a house (as opposed to a dorm suite), for which there is far more upkeep, as well as issues to be passive aggressive about: dishes, rotting food in the fridge, garbage, etc.

BEST: Taking your first step toward conquering the world

You're practically a grownup now that you're living on your own. Time to show the world what you can do! 

Images: Giphy

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