On Campus vs. Off Campus – Are You Ready to Make the Move?

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College student moving out of parents house

Most college students get to the point where they want to spread their wings and leave dorm life behind. The decision to move into off-campus housing can be a little stressful and confusing. Take a look at some of the things to consider when helping your child make this important decision.

How much will housing expenses cost?
Will living off campus save money or cost more? Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into when signing a rental agreement. While the rent may seem cheap at first glance, you’ll also need to factor in the initial or security deposit, utilities, parking, furniture and appliances. Depending on the apartment complex, these extra costs may add up. Additionally, be sure the contract is for the semester(s) your child will attend school and not for the entire year.

How much money will be needed for food?
When living in a dorm, students may have a fixed amount that covers three meals a day and some snacks. However, when living off campus, what your child eats will be up to him or her. You’ll need to determine a realistic budget for monthly food expenses – whether your child is going to a grocery store or eating out.

Will your child have access to campus activities?
Dorm living offers unparalleled access to campus activities and university life. An apartment will undoubtedly provide more space and privacy, but students usually have to work a little harder to stay connected to the school once they move off campus. Dorm life also encourages students to get to know other students in their dorm. Depending on how social the off-campus apartment complex is, it may be a bit tougher for your child to make new friends because people are in different stages of their university experience.

Can your child live on a budget?
Typically, living off campus requires students to stick to a tighter budget. You may want to suggest that your child register for online banking and download a mobile banking app to help track spending in his or her checking account and set up alerts for various purposes, such as low account balance, checks clearing, etc.

There are benefits to living on and off campus. It’s important to sit down with your child and answer these questions (and any others you can think of) before any contract is signed. If your child does decide to live off campus, be sure to establish a realistic budget for saving and spending money for the coming year.