Student Housing Options: Residence vs. Apartment

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Once you have chosen which college or university to attend, the next important decision is where to live. Many first year students opt to live in a residence on campus, but if dorm life isn’t for you, off-campus living is also an option!

Living in residence is easy living. It is set up to be simple and structured to help ease students into independent living. Living off campus can be more complicated but offers the chance for you to make your space your own and live very independently.

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Some of the major differences between living in residence and living off-campus include:


Residence can be more expensive to live in because it is all inclusive. The cost of living in residence is fixed and usually includes Wi-Fi, furnishings, utilities, and your meal plan. Meal plans are convenient because you will likely not have your own kitchen or place to store food, but they may lead to unhealthy eating habits as you will have to eat whatever food your school has available.

When you live in residence you will only pay for the length of the school year. You may have to vacate your room on holidays when the school closes.

Apartments can be much cheaper to live in but may include additional costs for utilities and commuting. You may also have to furnish your apartment. Even with these additional costs, it is much easier to cut costs when living in an apartment because the costs are not fixed. You will most likely have to sign a 12-month lease, but you will always have access to your apartment – no need to vacate for the holidays!

Social Life

Residence offers a great opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. It is close to campus life, classes, and everything else you may need. There are also usually organized social events for you to attend. Keep in mind that residence will have rules though such as quiet hours and limits to when people can visit.

Depending on where you find an apartment and if you choose to have roommates or not, it can be isolating. However, you will be able to live with friends if you make those arrangements with them, and you do not have to follow the same rules as residence in terms of quiet hours and visitor restrictions.


Living in residence means very little privacy. You will have to share a room with another person; probably a stranger! You may also have to share a bathroom with many other people. It can also be very loud in residence, and you will have little time to yourself. You may also find it difficult to focus and study, especially if there is lots going on in your residence.

Living off campus can offer a lot more privacy. You can choose your roommate (if you want one) and you will have a room to yourself. Living in an apartment can be a nice break from the student life. It is also quieter than living in residence and you will have a lot more space to call your own.


Residence is usually located right on campus which means you’re close to classes, food, friends, and anything else you may need.

Apartments may be close to campus or they may require a bit of a commute. Keep in mind that parking may also be difficult on campus and there are additional costs to factor in if you plan on commuting each day.

Where you decide to live is an individual choice that will depend on what you want from your experience away at school. They both have benefits and downsides that you must consider.

If you’re looking for an apartment near a university or college, check out this Accommodation Comparison Chart that will help you ask the right questions as you’re searching.