The concern of where to live on campus is something that lingers in the back of every student’s mind, particularly around this time of year. The thriftiest of us will start our search late in the fall semester, around a year in advance; many housing units are available on a first come first served basis, and getting a head start never hurts. For many of us, the fate of our housing situation remains uncertain until later in the year. We remain busy with all of our classes, all of our work, and then it hits us. Where and with whom do I live?
Incoming freshmen won’t have to worry about this. Although the selection of public University Housing (dormitories) is plentiful, the University does a fantastic job of letting you know what options are available to you from the moment you accept your enrollment.
For the rest of us, we have the “luxury” of choosing who to live with and where to live after freshman year. For some, that’s a sigh of relief; living with friends and making your own choices in regard to lifestyle is something many of us look forward to in college. However, too many choices can be overwhelming; comparing prices and locations can be a burden that we often reserve to the last of our to-do list.
I chose to live alone for personal reasons. I had just returned from the Korean army, where I had lived with a group of 8-10 fellow soldiers in one big barrack space for two years. I longed for a space to call mine; privacy was a key factor in my search. Location was also important; I was willing to pay a couple of extra bucks for a premium location. I remembered that proximity was often a deciding factor of whether or not I made it to class on those freezing cold Champaign days.
After living alone for about a year now, here are some pros and cons (in no particular order) to those who may be looking to live alone as well.
Pro #1. It feels like home (on campus). Whenever I go back to my apartment, it feels like a home away from home; I have the say in how my place looks and what belongings remain in my household. This sense of home and warmth has proven beneficial so many times throughout the stressful academic year.
Pro #2. Privacy is absolute. Only people I allow come into my apartment, and I have full control of who gets to see the place I call home (even if just a temporary home). This is probably my favorite part of living alone. If you get lonely easily, I do not recommend living alone, for obvious reasons. For me, it was exactly what I was looking for.
Pro #3. There is no stress of living with roommates (might be obvious, but this is important!) and there are no arguments over little things like who needs to do the dishes and who needs to clean the bathroom. All the dishes I do are my dishes, and the bathroom remains for my private use only. On a side note, I love to cook. Having a kitchen for myself remains one of my favorite parts of living alone. No need to share refrigerator space or mark what groceries are mine!
Pro #4. I work on my own time schedule. As someone who likes sleeping early and waking up early, there are no distractions to the kind of life I want to live. I can spend time doing the things I want to do, when I want to do them. No need to worry about bothering roommates at 8 a.m. or being bothered by roommates at 1 a.m.!
Now here are some cons to consider:
Con #1. Price. You pay a premium for the luxury of living alone, and it definitely hits the wallet hard. I didn’t notice it nearly as much at the beginning, but boy does the cost add up. If you’re looking to live on a tighter budget, I would seriously consider getting some roommates. It’ll save you an arm and a leg financially in the long run. It’s actually the only reason why I am looking to live with some friends in the near future.
Con #2. The apartment doesn’t clean itself. As much as it’s nice knowing that the dishes you have in the sink are yours to clean, it still is just that. Dishes to clean. There have been days where I just have not had the time or energy to finish doing my dishes, and I had hoped that they would magically disappear as they used to in high school. Alas, they did not. To that point, living at home is something I definitely do not take for granted anymore. Miss you, mom!
Con #3. Companionship is seldom. Many come to college with the idea of having a great time with friends and getting the full living away from home experience. Living alone mitigates a little bit of that, as it sometimes can get a little lonesome (really a two-edged sword, this one).
I think in the end, it just comes down to you and your personal values. What’s important to you? Do you value privacy and having a place to call home, or are you looking for the group experience and getting to live with others? I have had no regrets living alone and have re-signed the current apartment where I live. Although it may not be for everyone, I’ve learned a lot about myself through this process — you never know until you give it a try!