Campus Chronicles: Welcome to the "Real World" of Off-Campus Housing
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Making the first payments on your house or apartment and dreaming of the parties and independence that comes with leaving the RAs are the moments that make off-campus life so appealing. The hundreds of calls to cable companies and $300 trips to the supermarket, combined with the stress and sweat spent finding and moving in furniture are the things that off-campus students dread.
Leaving home and becoming part of the dorms of Boston College is the first step to independence that most of us make, but the transition to off-campus living is one that really kicks “the real world” into gear. Move-in day is a struggle, but this year I was thrown into the community that is off-campus housing and the furniture, bills, and groceries that come along with that.
For students living in apartments and houses, from Comm. Ave. to Chiswick, the initial excitement of the first weeks of school is combined with the new step of owning property. Change is always stressful, and the jump to living off-campus is not a small change. Trying to decide whether to leave the comfort of the dorms and the campus is a struggle, but only a week into the experience, making the transition to off-campus housing has been amazing.
There are definitely things that an off-campus student has to keep in mind, however. While RAs are no longer a concern, there is a new authority to report to: the police—and the streets of Boston are not in the same vacuum as a college campus. The transition to becoming a real person means that you are surrounded by other real people, who may not be as understanding when you stumble home at all hours of the night on weekends.
Sure, there are times when walking home at 2 a.m. after Heights production or having to buy dining hall food with real money make me question my decision, but the perks of living off campus definitely outweigh the negatives. The weight lifted off my shoulders last year knowing I did not have to take part in the housing lottery alone makes the decision worth it.
For students with financial concerns, off-campus housing is also a good option. If you talk to different realtors and put in the research, buying a house or apartment can be very economical. For a two-bedroom apartment with significantly more space than my nine-man in Vanderslice last year, I am paying just over half as much as I would for a year in a two-bedroom Voute townhouse. Combined with the money saved on the reduced meal plan, living off-campus was a financial decision I could not pass up.
Living off-campus adds to the college experience in a way that nothing else can. Although college students gain independence from their parents and finally get to make their own decisions, food prepared in dining halls bought with meal-plan “fake money” and dorm living do not prepare students for living outside the cozy greens of the Heights. For the first time, I have been introduced to signing a lease, budgeting my rent, decorating an apartment, and not losing keys. Spending hours furnishing my kitchen with everything surpassed the welcome-back parties as my favorite part of last weekend.
Some people argue that moving off campus means that you leave the community that a college campus offers, but you just switch to a new one. You move to the community of weekend barbeques and dinner parties with friends who live right down the street from you and those friends who still live on campus that you can count on for that atmosphere. No matter where you live, however, who you live with is what truly matters. Decorating my apartment with my two roommates who are also my two best friends makes the experience real and has let me know that the transition to off-campus living will be one of the most fun transitions of my life.