I have a love hate relationship with my on campus living situation. Like many entry level professionals, I am required to live on campus in an apartment located in one of the residence halls. So basically I moved back into the dorms after five years of NOT living in them.
When I started looking for graduate assistantships, I loved the idea of provided housing. It meant I didn’t have to apartment hunt in a city I was unfamiliar with. THis was also true for when I was looking for my first big kid job. Another bonus is not having to pay rent. Some schools require that you pay a small amount but the numbers I’ve heard have always been ridiculously low, like $50 a month or something.
This brings me to another point. Apartments can vary greatly from campus to campus. Some of my friends have two or even THREE bedroom apartments. Others have a one bedroom apartment the size of a large closet. Even on the same campus there can be some drastic differences. The apartment I lived in my second year of grad school was much smaller than the one from my first year. Most schools will show you an apartment during your on campus interview, but at some larger schools, it might not be your exact apartment. I actually like my current apartment. It’s one bedroom, but both the bedroom and living room are pretty big.
Another bonus is not having to pay for utilities. That means I can blast my AC and take long, hot showers and not have to pay for it later. Sorry, environment. I also have cable and internet provided. It’s a pretty sweet deal. I also don’t have some scummy landlord. If something is wrong in my apartment, I contact my school’s facilities department.
So, this whole live on professional gig seems pretty sweet, right? Well. Because you are living on campus, you can be subjected to a lot of different rules. Some aren’t so different from renting an apartment off campus, like rules controlling painting your walls or owning pets. Some college specific rules could include not having candles or how much alcohol can be in your apartment. Yes. One school I interviewed at specified how much alcohol I was allowed to have. No. Not cool. Also, some schools don’t let your spouse/significant other/child live with you. That can pose a problem if you’re in a committed relationship.
An issue that doesn’t seem to be discussed much is what happens if you get promoted or move to a different department at the same institution. If you already live off campus, this is a no brainer. You don’t need to move unless you got a substantial pay raise and decide you WANT to move. If you are moving out of a live in role, you are FORCED to move. What’s worse (and this is a total first world problem) your pay increase for a promotion is most likely NOT going to equal the amount you are now going to be paying in rent which means you are getting promoted but taking home less money. Womp womp.
While there are definite cons to my current living situation, I enjoy my short commute, the ability to throw more money at my student loans, and my FREE AIR CONDITIONING. I recently visited a friend for a weekend and his apartment did not have AC. It was so hot that my lipstick started melting it it’s tube and I had to keep it in the fridge. Granted, he has a much bigger room than me…I guess you win some and you lose some.
For those of you living on campus, what do you like about your situation? Dislike? For those of you older and wiser, how did you adjust to moving off campus?