For many college students, living on campus remains mandatory for one or two years. Luckily, Western Michigan University housing regulations allow students to live on campus or rent an apartment off-campus as early as their freshman year.
When making the decision to move into a house or rent an apartment, students must consider many variables — as the perfect solution depends on their specific situation. For many students, living off-campus provides a number of advantages that make all the difference.
1. Pay much less in rent
The average cost of living in a residence hall at WMU for the academic year totals around $10,000 and, given that an academic year lasts only 9 months, students pay roughly $1,100 a month.
According to data from the American Community Survey, the median rent in Kalamazoo hovers just above $700 a month, and can be much less if you are sharing a house with a few friends.
It is easy to forget how much on-campus housing really costs when the price gets rolled into your overall tuition bill, but don’t ignore an opportunity to save thousands of dollars while you earn your degree.
2. Avoid annoying dorm rules
Living in a dorm means answering to a resident advisor responsible for enforcing the university’s housing regulations.
Much stricter than apartments or homes, dorms make it difficult to stay up late, have guests overnight or host gatherings and events.
Having a resident advisor looking over your shoulder makes you feel like you still live at home with your parents, but off-campus living provides the freedom to live as you see fit.
3. Enjoy local arts and entertainment
Everyone who has spent enough time at a college campus knows that, eventually, you need to go out and mix things up.
Kalamazoo houses many concert venues, restaurant and art exhibits, and living off-campus makes it easier to indulge in exciting activities. New places give you a chance to meet people outside of your own communities and encourages new friendships or networking opportunities.
The on-campus experience shouldn’t be underestimated, but the wealth of opportunity from living off-campus proves irresistible.
4. Prepare for life after college
Living on campus helps with a few things early on. It’s easy to check out community events or grab food from campus dining, and staying walking distance from class saves time and energy.
However, luxuries like these are unique to college and prevent you from developing individuality and responsibility.
Living off campus teaches you how to work with landlords, negotiate housing contracts, manage utility payments and care for your property — all skills that you will practice regularly after college.
5. Live closer to work
WMU offers on-campus employment, but these jobs are often very competitive and may be restricted to work study programs not available to all students.
Also, as students approach graduation and search for career-oriented jobs, they often look away from the college setting and seek out business-rich areas like downtown Kalamazoo.
Living off-campus doesn’t prevent you from working on-campus, but does offer you more options for choosing the most convenient job.