From Tuscany to M Section: on-campus vs. off

It’s that time of year again:  housing season. Whether you’re in your first year at Sonoma State or you’ve already been here for a few, this short window of time is crucial for a smooth living situation next year. This is the time to make the big decision: live on campus or off campus. 

Both have taught me a lot about how to interact with roommates and neighbors and how to start dealing with real world issues. As a junior going into my fourth year next fall at SSU and having experienced both on and off campus living, I prefer the off campus lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong, living on campus is a great way to start building independence and friendships and lay a foundation to possibly make the move off campus at some point. In reality, there are positives and negatives for both. 

Living on campus is fun because you get to be so close to all of the campus events. You also don’t have to worry about a parking spot for class because almost everything is a short walk away. Students can meet their neighbors through building events all semester long and there are constant workshops being put on through ResLife about choosing careers and majors. Paying bills is also made easy for students by having one set bill per semester for housing and all its amenities. 

On the flipside, on campus housing may not always bring back pleasant memories for past residents. We have all heard those roommate horror stories from time to time and no one wants to be a part of that nightmare. Unless you reserve your house ahead of time, filled with the people you want to live with, there is no guarantee that the living situation will be smooth sailing. 

If you have experienced bad roommates in the past or even heard about it through friends, you know what I’m talking about. On top of the unpredictability of roommates, on campus housing also comes with lack luster laundry rooms and the ever-popular CSAs enforcing appropriate noise levels and quiet hours. 

For many, off campus housing clearly seems like the way to go. Students have the opportunity to be completely independent and start their adult lives if they haven’t yet already. There are so many factors that go into off campus housing but in the end, the reward is worth it. 

Especially living in a smaller community like Rohnert Park with the number of students rising, housing options are limited but not impossible. There are plenty of apartments, houses and townhouses that are put up for rent each year around this time, and the sooner you go out looking the better chances you have of finding one that you like. You do have to pay bills for rent, cable and utilities separately, but with reliable roommates of your choosing it shouldn’t be a problem. 

Reliable roommate selection is so important when living off campus because you no longer have a CSA to talk to if there’s a conflict. You want to make sure your potential roommates can consistently pay their share of the bills as well. It seems like an obvious standard, but you’d be surprised how often someone forgets to pay for electricity or their portion of rent and before you know it you’re swimming in fines and—poof!—there goes your credit score. The cost of off campus living with all the bills included is more often than not cheaper than living on campus anyway. 

Before making any moves, take the time to think about housing because it’s a big commitment. Evaluate your finances and find people that you can trust and who you wouldn’t mind living with for a year. Then make a decision as a group whether to live on or off campus. I think it’s a matter of preference and whether or not you’re ready to make the move to live independently. 

Some students can spend their entire college experience living on campus and it works for them; others want to explore the real world outside of dorm life. College is the time to find yourself and start your future as an individual. It is definitely high risk, high reward, but other off campus students could tell you that having a place to literally call your own is truly such an empowering feeling, and you can’t get that from inside a dorm.