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4 Guidelines for Successful Off-Campus Living

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Your walls don't need to stay bare. Decorate!

Your walls don't need to stay bare. Decorate!

The switch from living in a dorm room to off-campus living in an apartment or house can be both challenging and rewarding. While you certainly have more freedom, you will not always have the ease and luxury of living in a dormitory. Having spent a year off campus myself, I found that there are a few necessary requirements for making the most of your time when living away from campus.

1. Meet the Landlord

First things first, I would highly recommend introducing yourself to your landlord. He or she will be in charge of your living space. It is with this person that you should establish rules, figure out what can be changed in your living space, and report anything that needs to be fixed.

2. Decorate Your Space

As you will quickly learn, you have a large amount of freedom in off-campus housing that you did not have in the dormitories. Take advantage of this. After discussing your plans with your landlord, personalize your living space as you would at home. Hang pictures, bring in your own furniture, and create a clean, welcoming environment where you can both study and relax.

My own roommates and I were able to paint our rooms any color we wanted. We also brought in multiple floor lamps to improve the lighting in our apartment. With this and other smaller adjustments, we were able to create a more welcoming and productive environment. Remember, this is the place where you will be living for at least a school year, so you might as well be comfortable in it!

3. Set Up a Meal Schedule

One of the most common problems that off-campus students face is buying and cooking food. While you may decide to have a full or partial meal plan in your school dining hall, students living off campus generally tend to eat more of their meals at home. This, of course, will involve shopping, storing, and cooking the food that you buy — a challenge you would not have to deal with when living on campus.

From my own experience, I would suggest that you talk to your fellow roommates and find a way to split food costs. Try to set up a meal schedule so that everyone can cook, eat, and clean up at the same time. This way, you can save money on food and not have to split up cupboards and refrigerators into individual sections.

4. Learn How to Live Independently

This may be your first time living without any supervision, so it's a good time to learn how to cook, clean, and manage your own living space. During my year off-campus, I learned how to manage bills and payments, thoroughly clean a house, and vastly improved my cooking prowess. Your year off campus can teach you valuable lessons that you will be able to use for the rest of your life!

Moving out of dorm can seem intimidating at first, but in no time, you will begin to see the joy of off-campus living. Having lived off campus for over a year, I found these guidelines to be extremely useful. Your experience off campus will be both challenging and rewarding, and will hopefully be a time that you remember as a positive experience during your college years.

Photo Source: Morguefile