Off-campus living: Is it worth it?

Alexander Furman

Time is running out to find the perfect apartment off campus, and some may wonder if it’s really worth it to move away from campus living.

All the things to consider when thinking about moving away from the comfort zone of the residence halls can be overwhelming, but taking it one step at a time can make things more manageable.

Even with the glamour of living by yourself and doing your own thing, there are students who believe it’s not always the best step.

Zaak Barnes, sophomore in political science, feels that he and many of his classmates aren’t ready to take the big leap.

“I’m not comfortable signing the lease for an apartment,” Barnes said. “For example, when’s the last time you read the terms and agreements for something like iTunes or an online gaming site?” 

There are properties in Ames that cater specifically to college students, including University West, which is located by Ames Middle School.

Places like these understand how hard the transition can be from having structured living like a dorm floor to off-campus living, and take steps to make it as easy as possible.

“We do everything we can to be student-friendly with the mindset that ISU students will be living here,” said Laura Kilbride, community manager at University West.

“All of our leasing consultants are current ISU students, so they are easily relatable and can understand the residents’ position,” Kilbride said. “Moving off campus is a big transition and our leasing consultants have experienced this transition, so we are as helpful as possible when guiding new residents.”

Kilbride said another benefit of University West properties is the location, which is near three CyRide stops.

“We have several resident activities throughout the year, such as finals week biscuits and gravy, pool parties in the summer, cutest pet contest and Cyclone football trivia during the fall,” Kilbride said.

Then there’s the question of how much money you’ll be spending to live off campus versus living on campus.

Students in the dorms can expect to pay anywhere from $2000 to as high as $5000 in halls such as Eaton or Martin per semester.

However, a typical apartment can range between upper $200s to $600 per month depending on how many roommates you choose to have.

Another cost to consider is food. Most students have a meal plan, which can often lead to wasted money with leftover meals. Many have to ask themselves if it is worth it to trade easy, accessible meals for cheaper, do-it-yourself meals.

Taya Ohms, junior in mechanical engineering, thinks it’s not worth it.

“I stayed in my dorm this year mostly because of the time and the convenience; it’s right by the food, the gym and my classes,” Ohms said.  “I don’t have to worry about driving anywhere.”

A lot of apartment complexes in Ames offer free or cheap amenities such as cable and Internet features, but students often forget the trade-offs.

Some bus routes can take up to 15 minutes to campus from locations that are farther away, a hassle for getting to class on time.

Places are filling up quickly, but remember to do your research first. Moving off campus has its perks and drawbacks, but students need to be ready for that kind of commitment.