Student dorm vs Renting an apartment

by Will Martins/ Updated February 14, 2019

Hey everyone!

It goes without saying that the life of students is full of challenges, surprises and adventures. Obviously, one of such challenges for each and every student is figuring out whether they should live in a student dorm or rent an apartment. Of course, I won’t deny the fact that certain students would be capable of buying their own apartment or someone will buy it for them. However, let’s be honest and accept the fact that most of us will be living in either a student dorm or a rented apartment during out university years.Therefore, you gotta decide what is more convenient, attractive and affordable for you. Personally, I’m clearly aware about the benefits of both these options; so, I won’t provide any recommendations. It’s the choice you have to make by yourself. I’ll just provide several factors below discussing peculiarities of both these options for living.

It’s all about money!

I get it, everybody has different budgets and there’s no shame in accepting the fact that you cannot afford to rent an apartment and pay on a monthly basis. However, also be aware that living in a dorm will not be the cheapest option for you, either. Especially, in the long-term perspective.Of course, the prices vary depending on a certain college or university, its location and number of additional services provided by the dorm. For example, during my sophomore year, I was required to pay almost $14,000 for Room & Board plan. In other words, I was supposed to pay $14k a year for having a place to live and a standard meal plan. It’s a significant sum of money, right? (at least for me). So, I started looking for apartment that was closest to my college. Imagine how surprised I was, when I figured out I could rent an apartment with another student from my college for $800 (including utilities) per month. So, $800*12 = $9,600 a year for a private place to live in an apartment.

Location matters

You might not be lucky finding an apartment for rent that is near your college. Moreover, you might find yourself spending considerable sums of money on transportation. Therefore, unless you’ve got stable and affordable transportation option that is also reliable, I’d suggest living in a dorm because it’s the closest you can be to your college. Otherwise, you might be spending not only money, but also much time and efforts to get to the college and get back home.Also, safety is also of high concern here. Especially, if you’re moving to a completely new city that you know nothing about. Therefore, you should either figure out the safest regions of the city, where you will be capable of living safely, or don’t test your luck and live in a dorm because it’s the safest option you can get if you don’t want to spend time looking for a safe neighborhood to live in.

Be prepared for different lifestyles

  • First and foremost, due to the fact that any dorm is organized and run by the university, you will be required to follow its rules and regulations. For example, you might be given a certain schedule when you’re allowed to leave and enter the dorm, a limited number of guest visits, a vast list of “dos and don’ts” etc. Therefore, you might be expected to follow the rules that would appear absurd to you if you lived your life in an apartment. For example, in majority of cases, dorms won’t allow you to stay during the vacations (you’ll be expected to go back home to your family, but what if you don’t want to?).
  • Second, if you’re to live in a dorm – forget about privacy. Like, just accept the fact that your privacy never existed. It’s because you won’t live by yourself in a separate bedroom. Obviously, you’ll share your room with several people that have different schedules, different behaviors and different traits of character. Also, don’t forget that the bathrooms here are common, so no privacy there, as well. If that’s an issue for you, consider renting an apartment. However, I also know several people who enjoy such lifestyle that is full of people and social interactions.
  • Thirdly, food. To be short, dorms rarely provide adequate nutrition plans and meals. Of course, it’s a matter of taste, but I’d rather cook my own food that I like instead of wasting money on dorm meals. The issue here is that my dorm had no stove in a kitchen (and I believe mine was not the only one). So, if you prefer cooking your own food, consider renting an apartment. Otherwise, if you don’t have time or any wish to cook, go with the dorm meals, they’re still better than some fast-food you could find instead.


Therefore, just like you’ve seen, both dorm and apartment offer certain advantages and disadvantages. It’s just up to you what you prefer the most and how you’re going to live during the college years to spend them safely and comfortably.

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