With room and board being ridiculously high in the city, some students turn to alternative living situations. Thinking of living WAY off campus? Here are some pros and cons I’ve gleaned from living in a small suburb in Malden, Massachusetts.
Let’s start with the cons (we’ll save the best for last!)
The commute is by far one of the toughest parts about living far off campus, especially when the Boston snowpocalypse descends upon our helpless souls. Every morning and evening, I travel 40 minutes to and from school and occasionally endure the hellish 7-8 rush hour on the T. And no one is a happy camper on the T when it becomes a stuffed sausage in which no one wants to make room for the person next to them.
NO MIDDAY NAPS OR PIT STOPS IN THE DORM ROOM
One convenient thing about living on or close to campus is being able to collapse on your bed in the middle of the day. I mean, I guess you could find an unoccupied couch in the library. And if you forgot your class materials back at home, better come up with a GREAT excuse as to why you’ve come to class empty-handed!
CARRYING EVERYTHING AROUND ALL DAY LIKE YOU’RE BACKPACKING ACROSS EUROPE
While living on campus allows one to take only what you need to a certain class before returning to your room to pick up the necessities for a later class, living way off campus means having to take everything you need in a day, packing it on your back like a mule, and hiking to every class with a lunchbox, laptop, and notes. On the upside, it’s trained me to think “light” and take only what is absolutely necessary. Last year, I left my laptop at home and got used to using the computers in the library. May sound ludicrous, but it helped me focus better in class when I couldn’t get on Facebook as “wah-wah, wah-wah-wah,” started coming from my professor’s mouth.
When you can’t walk over to a girlfriend’s room or classmate’s dorm at 12am for a little fun time or a class project because you’ve already gone home for the night, it’s hard to have that 24/7 access to campus social life.
THE MONTHLY OUT-OF-POCKET RENT
If mum and dad can’t help out, and you didn’t hone in on your saving and budgeting skills over summer break, paying for rent out of pocket can be a pain and a pressure. $650 a month means cutting costs for most college students. It means rarely ever going out to eat or shopping in order to afford the monthly payments, and working all year round to make sure rent is always covered.
While that may sound rough, here are the reasons why I LOVE living WAY off campus!
SAVE THOSE $$$
The best thing about living off campus, is, of course, the affordability. While living on campus in the cheapest dorms can be up to $3,100 per semester, some of the cheaper living situations off campus can be up to $2,600 a semester with the internet, water, electricity, and laundry included. For example, my current rent is approx. $650 a month with all expenses included. It helps me sleep better at night to know that at least room and board aren’t being added to my college debt!
AWAY FROM THE NOISE
One of the struggles of living in a campus dorm is loud neighbors and the hubbub of noisy city life. For someone who doesn’t really enjoy having neighbors who constantly invite people over, play loud music, or simply have people living around them who seem to be unidentified zoo animals, the quietude of a small suburb and mature and respectful housemates can be a godsend.
FEEL LIKE A REAL ADULT
Many graduate students or mature young adults live in rentable rooms out in Boston suburbia and commute thirty minutes or more to work or class. One plus of living off campus is feeling like a legit grown-up instead of the “waking-up-5-minutes-before-class-and-skipping face-washing-or-teeth-brushing” routine. In order to get to class on time, being on top of time management is essential. Great practice for the dreaded ADULTHOOD!
MEET UNLIKELY FRIENDS
Living off campus, I’ve met graduate students and interns from all over the world–from an Austrian archaeologist to a Venezuelan lawyer. I’ve also befriended the neighborhood mom-and-pop hair stylists who trim my hair for $10. Pretty good deal on a haircut if you ask me!
BUILD UNREAL WALKING MUSCLES
For some busy students (or anti-fitness individuals), walking is the only exercise worked into their schedule. Walking to the T stop every morning and night are sure to have your calves walk-marathon ready.
OWNING A SEMESTER T PASS
Having a semester T pass is a must when commuting on the daily. While the price for a semester T pass is high (and also un-refundable if you lose it), having a T pass is like having the FastPass at Disney World. Worrying about refilling your charlie card is a forgotten misery while your friends struggle on the other side of the gate to recharge their cards!
Despite all the difficulties of living out of the way, I love living off campus and would recommend it to anyone looking for comfortable and cheaper rooming options!
This Blog was written by Laura Ma. She is currently a third year English Major and ex-Architecture Major. She has an assortment of passions including working the drive-thru window at Taco Bell, learning to speak German, and dancing solo in her basement. Feel free to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.