Home > Opinion > Does Living Off Campus Take Away From the College Experience?

Does Living Off Campus Take Away From the College Experience?

Chelsey Pierce

When thinking about the college “experience” what do you think of? For many, they imagine it to be the best four years of their lives. Learning how to live independently away from home either in a dorm room or at a first apartment can be a major life adjustment.

Deciding to live off campus and lease an apartment can be stressful. Liz Kew, assistant director of housing operations and off-campus residential services at Merrimack College can help with this process.

Questions she may have you thinking about during a scheduled meeting could sound like this; Where do you want to live? Is subletting allowed? How would you deal with roommate conflicts? Could you handle the responsibilities? Are you aware of financial aid changes?

If these questions do not sway you from signing a lease, there are off campus housing options in the area. While many students prefer to live on campus, one of the most popular options is to lease through the apartment complex across the street, Royal Crest Estates.

“My friends and I decided we wanted to live in an apartment off campus this school year, Royal Crest,” said Anna Mccarthy, a Merrimack student who is a first time resident at Royal. “Before submitting our application we had to figure out if the rent plus utilities was going to be saving us money or costing us more than living on campus.”

Merrimack College in 2020 had 74% of the students live in college-owned, -operated or -affiliated housing and 26% of students live off campus, according to usnews, a digital media company that provides education rankings and helps parents and students find the perfect school.

The high percentage of students residing on campus is no surprise. Students can meet new people and develop lasting friendships through interacting with others in their dorm buildings. As well as the social, educational and recreational possibilities.

On campus room and board at Merrimack is $17,439. This does include electricity, heat, water, trash removal and Internet connection. These services can add up each month in an apartment utility bill.

“Between myself and three other roommates the utilities not included that we have to pay for are the electricity and internet services, but it has not been too pricey,” Mccarthy said. “Only $28 this month individually we paid for these.”

Living on campus does require you to pay in addition to room and board for things like meal plans and parking. Scholarships, grants, and federal student loans can help with those expenses.

Room and board this year at Merrimack as mentioned earlier is $17,439. The price for a two bedroom apartment at Royal for 12 months is around $24,000. Divide that by four people living there and you are only paying $500 a month plus the utilities. $6,000 for 12 months compared to paying $17,439 at Merrimack. You are saving about $12,000 living off campus.

Royal offers pet friendly and smoke free apartments, with three or two bedroom options available. What makes Royal Crest appealing to students is the location, pricing, and the popularity of other students living there.

Mccarthy says that since Merrimack is walking distance, she doesn’t feel as though she’s missing out on the college experience by choosing to live off-campus.

Last year living on campus looked different due to the restrictions in response to Covid-19. As things slowly returned back to normal over the last year, students who got comfortable with living in an off campus apartment had to make the difficult decision to release or return to campus housing.

Expenses are lower off campus, and bonus you have the luxury of having your own kitchen and more comfortable living space. As well as the convenience of your car being parked right outside your apartment, compared to the walk to the student reserved parking lot.

“The difficult part about having an apartment as a college student is you have more responsibilities you need to handle,” Mccarthy said. “It definitely was hard at first but overall has taught me so many valuable lessons.”

The number of students living on campus may increase as the Covid pandemic comes to an end. College is for many the best time of their lives, so it’s important to treasure that before it’s over. This could mean living on-campus to get that experience and for others, not needing to live on-campus to enjoy the college experience that Merrimack offers.