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Tired of living on campus? Want to become more independent? Feel like living somewhere that will feel more like home? I’m here to let you know what it is like to live off-campus. Like any decision you make in life, you have to weigh out the pros and cons, and plan for potential mishaps.  The choice to live off campus is often a difficult one to make, here are a few things to consider.

1. Security & Safety

Depending on what area you live in, security can be of utmost importance. A lot of Universities are surrounded by low-income living and usually aren’t the safest places to live. Make sure the windows and doors lock so that you are not susceptible to break-ins. Many of the houses/apartments that border a campus are old and not up to modern security standards. Make sure the place you rent is somewhere that you feel safe living.

2. Where Are Your Friends?

Why would you want to move off campus if all of your friends are living on campus? My advice, go where your friends go. You don’t want to be living a mile away from campus and constantly be hiking it back and forth to hang with your friends. Luckily, most of my friends lived on the same block as I did, so I was never to far from where I wanted to be.

3. Actually Read the Lease

Some leases are extremely taxing to fully digest. Make sure you take the time to actually read it before signing it. You never know what is going to be in the content of that lease, and you want to make sure you have a firm understanding of the parameters of the agreement. Along with this, make sure you have a landlord you think you will get along with. If you plan on having parties all the time, don’t sign on with a landlord who tells you she doesn’t want you having parties. Some landlords understand partying comes with the territory, and will give you more leeway than others.

4. Location, Location, Location

The first and only year I lived off-campus I was fortunate enough to get an apartment that was only about a 10 minute walk to campus. With limited parking on-campus, this made the decision to go to class a lot easier for me. I would recommend not living more than a 15-minute walk away from campus. If you’re not sure how long the walk is, time it out with your smartphone to get an idea of how much time you have to give yourself in the morning in order to to get to class on time. Some people can handle living a little bit farther away, but I’m not sure If I would have fared well being too far away from campus.

I will admit it is awesome having your own place, where you can throw parties, listen to music way louder than you could in the dorms, or even have your first pet. (Trust me, you can never have a bad day at school when you come home to a puppy, not to mention, guys — girls aren’t exactly running from the idea of you having a cute little dog around.)

Make sure you weigh your options and don’t jump into this big decision blindfolded. While living off campus, I had my most exciting year of college, and the feel of having your own place is pretty rad. Find the place that’s right for you. I think everybody should experience it at least once in their college career; you learn a lot about growing up and get a feel for what living on your own is like before you are cast off into the “real world” to fend for yourself.

Are you considering off-campus housing?