Pros and Cons of Living On and Off Campus

By University of Waterloo Modified on April 12, 2024
Tags : Campus Life | Community | Relationships

Get a clearer picture of your choices by detailing the pros and cons of living on and off campus.

Pros and Cons of Living On- and Off-Campus

Figuring out where to live during your university years is an exciting decision, but there's so much to consider! Trying to choose between living in residence, commuting, or living in off-campus student housing can get overwhelming.

Whether you're looking into the University of Waterloo, or exploring other institutions, understanding your housing options will help make sure you're choosing the right environment for you.

Here are some pros and cons to make your decision a little easier!

Living on campus: pros and cons

Living in residence makes life easier for many first-year students. At Waterloo, we have a first-year residence guarantee that makes living in residence an even more appealing choice.

Pros to living on campus:

  • Lots of opportunities to make new friends.
  • Very close to your classes (so you can sleep in a little longer!)
  • On-site dining and cleaning staff.
  • Easy access to on-campus resources.
  • Residence fees are all-inclusive and paid like your tuition.

Cons to living on campus:

  • Can be more expensive than living at home.
  • You might not like who you live with. (This doesn't happen often, but if it does there are staff to help).

Living off campus: pros and cons

Opting for off-campus housing provides you with more independence and flexibility. Whether you're sharing a space with friends or living alone, off-campus living has its own set of advantages and challenges.

Pros to living off campus:

  • Large variety of housing options.
  • Usually close to campus with access to the same campus services and supports.
  • You may save money (it's usually cheaper than living on campus and buying a meal plan).
  • Choice of living arrangements (e.g., who you live with and how many people you live with).

Cons to living off campus:

  • Potential difficulty finding a place and roommates before you've even started school.
  • Responsible for your own cooking and cleaning.
  • Cost of living expenses add up (commuting, groceries, ordering out etc.).
  • Could be caught having to pay hidden fees or unexpected charges (e.g., large utility bills, deposits).
  • Leases are typically a minimum of one year (If you go home for the summer or you're in a co-op program, you'll either need to sublet your room or continue to pay for a place even though you aren't living in it).

Staying at home and commuting: pros and cons

For some students, the comfort and familiarity of home outweighs the appeal of on-campus living. Commuting to school while living at home, or with relatives, allows you to maintain a close connection with your family while also working toward your academic goals.

Pros of commuting from home:

  • Commuting can be free if you aren't expected to pay rent and a parent or someone else drops you off.
  • Don't have to cook and do chores (any more than you already were, of course).
  • No moving in and out.
  • Can make the transition to university easier (one less change to navigate).

Cons of commuting from home:

  • Cost of public transit and rideshares.
  • Driving yourself leads to extra costs (e.g., gas, insurance, car repairs, parking, etc.).
  • Time spent commuting to and from school (instead of studying, hanging out with friends, or working).
  • Living further from your new friends and campus resources.

Regardless of where you choose to live, there are so many opportunities to get involved. From joining a sports team or one of the many clubs offered by your chosen school, to attending campus events, your university experience is what you make of it.

Learn more about the benefits of living on campus

account_balanceMore About This School