How to decide to live on or off campus

Cate McPhee


When you are accepted to university, it can be one of the most exciting times in your life.

Some universities require you to complete a residence application form when accepting your offer of enrolment. Understanding the pros and cons of living on vs off campus can help to make your decision.


Living on campus

Living in residence can be a wonderful experience, moving away from home and living with tons of people that are your age and excited for the next stage of life.

My personal experience living in residence was amazing. My roommates will continue to be life long friends.

Three people hanging out in a dorm roomHowever, to be transparent, it was not a perfect experience. When four girls live together for the first time, it's not always a smooth process.

You'll need to figure out cleaning schedules, quiet times, private spaces, etc. It can certainly be a learning curve but communication is the most important thing.


Pros of living on campus:

1. You are close to everything

No transportation is required as you can walk to class, the cafeteria, gym etc.

2. You have your own space

Living away from home for the first time can be hard but it's exciting to have your own place, decorate it how you want to and make your own rules.

3. Roommates

When you live with someone in a small space for eight months, you get to know each other quite quickly. These kinds of relationships can become life long friendships.

Woman fixing her hair in a dorm washroom.Cons of living on-campus:

1. Living in residence is a privilege

Good behaviour and rule following is required to live in residence. There are specific rules in place to provide a safe environment for students.

2. Sometimes, roommates can be tricky

Moving into residence can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know your roommates. Compromise and communication are keys to success.

However, sometimes you just don’t vibe with your roommate, and that's okay! Just remember, it is only eight months and you can choose whoever you want to live with the following year. Try to make the best of it.

Check out this post to take a tour of South Village residence


Living off campus

There are many options for living off campus, some include local student housing apartment buildings, renting a room in a home, or continuing to live at home if you live close by or are commuting to school.

Pros of living off campus:

1. Not as many rules

Depending on where you choose to live, there can be less rules then residence. Off-campus student housing tends to be for students who are second year or older, so the rules put in place may be less strict.

For example, some residences have guest policies, which can prohibit the number of times you have people staying over.
aerial shot of a subdivision.2. More independence

Residence can be the first time you are on your own, your first step into the real world. When you live off campus, it can be a bigger step into the real world. Living in your own space but not supervised by residence advisers.

3. Experiencing the local community

When you live on campus, sometimes you just stick to what you know. Never really adventuring off campus, sticking to your meal plan, no shopping required.

When you live off campus, you may be more inclined to see other parts of the town. Hop on the Durham Region Transit (DRT) and see where it takes you.


Cons of living off campus:

1. Location

Commuting from far away can be tricky. If you choose to live at home or further away from the school, be prepared to spend tons of time driving or taking transit to get to school.

2. Transportation

Sometimes transportation can be unreliable, for example if a bus is full, it will drive right past you and you will be left waiting for the next bus. Keep this in mind and plan accordingly.

inside of a busOntario Tech University has a great bus loop, which is essentially a hub for tons of Durham Region Transit (DRT) routes. As an awesome bonus, included in your tuition is a U-pass, which provides unlimited access to DRT.

Before you decide where you want to live, think about your personality and study habits. Consider each option and figure out what will work best for you.

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