Off-campus housing offers mixed bag for students, depending on desires

By Ebonique Wool

Living off-campus can give some students a sense of independence and freedom. It can also be a way to save money on room and board when looking to cut costs. For others, however, off-campus living provides an unwanted hassle. When living on campus, sleeping-in may not pose too great a threat to your attendance in class. When living off-campus, however, many students find the process of waking up early to catch the bus bothersome.

“It’s a problem getting to and from campus. It’s just a hassle,” said Isaac Burgess, sophomore in LAS and southeast Urbana resident.

“You have to get up earlier,” said Keanna Thompson, sophomore in LAS. “Last year when I was in dorms, I could get up five minutes before class and just ride the bus.”

Living at Sunnycrest Apartments now, Thompson gets rides from neighbors with cars, or takes the bus that comes every half hour. Some students prefer not to have to cook for themselves or don’t have the time to prepare well-balanced meals on a daily basis. The University offers flexible meal plans for those who live off-campus.

“I have the minimal dining plan so I can eat in the dorms as well,” said Jamie Crews, sophomore in LAS. Some students, however, do not miss the dining plans at all.”

“I like to eat organic and I’m a vegan. The dining hall didn’t have a lot of options for me,” said Michael Pennington, sophomore in LAS. “I didn’t like having to go to the dining halls at certain times.”

Pennington lives at La Casa Grande Colectiva, 906 S. Maple St., a housing co-op in Urbana. Living in a co-op dramatically reduces the cost of rent for the residents.

“It’s definitely cheaper,” said Pennington.

Pennington said he pays roughly $600 per semester, whereas University housing costs about $4,000 per semester. Paying apartment rents on campus can also be quite costly, according to Pennington.

“To get the same house on campus would cost two to three times as much,” he said.

Along with meal plans and the cost of rent, the constant distractions of dorm life were motivation for Pennington to move out.

“I’m definitely glad I’m out of the dorms. I can study a lot easier,” said Pennington, “The dorms have a party atmosphere.”

There is often greater privacy in apartments too, Thompson said.

She appreciates not having a resident advisor constantly looking over her shoulder or needing to share communal spaces with numerous other people, who are essentially randomly assigned to her floor.

“I love having my own room. I even have my own bathroom, I prefer not having to share with someone,” she said.

Some students, like Burgess, have said that they miss some aspects of the dorm environment. On the other hand, “it helps keep you focused on work,” he said.