Living on campus vs. commuting to college (with quiz) — (2023)

Should you live in a dorm on campus or commute instead?(with interactive quiz)

I remember deciding if I wanted to live on campus or commute when I went to college.

You might not have that option because of the university requirements, but if you do, it can be a tough decision.

I ended up living off campus, and my lifestyle was impacted. I still enjoyed the campus life but didn’t get as many opportunities to hang out with friends and go to events because I was living off campus.

I found myself staying in my apartment alone more, which had its perks, but some drawbacks too.

It’s an important decision so make sure you think hard about it before deciding and really consider the pros and cons.

I have a quiz below that will ask you ten questions to figure out the best living situation for you. And I have some serious considerations for you to think about when deciding on your college living situation.

Pros and Cons of living on campus and commuting to campus

You can save money

If you live on your own, you can decide where you live and possibly afford a lower monthly rent compared to your room and board on campus. If you can live at home, without any costs, I recommend that. Unless you feel like you will really enjoy the college life, try and save some cash by staying at home instead.

According to, the cost of room and board in the United States for a university is between $9,395 – $12,540. If you lived at home, you could save that additional money. But that’s only if your parents or family don’t charge you rent.

On the other end of the spectrum, you could live in an apartment off campus. This could be more or less expensive than room and board.

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment was a little over $1200 a month. Then you have all your additional living expenses, and that can add up to more than the dorm room cost I mentioned above.

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Now if you lived off campus and split the cost of an apartment with a roommate, you might be able to have a lower monthly living cost compared to a dorm room, but this would depend on your circumstances.

So, start crunching numbers to find out which one is right for you.

You can participate in campus life more

If you are on campus, and living in a dorm, you’ll have access to more campus activities. You’ll likely get to know more people living on campus and be invited to more events.

You’ll also hear about more events and be exposed to the campus life more because of your location.

Some residence halls will sponsor and host their own events, and if you’re living in a dorm, it will be easy to attend.

And you’ll be more likely to attend because you’ll know more people from campus and be invited more frequently. They’ll be plenty of groups to join,

If this is something you prefer, you might like living on campus more compared to the solo life.

You can network

Since you’ll be living on campus, going to college sponsored events won’t be so difficult.

You can walk to most campus events, and you will be more likely to go because of the ease of attending.

Also, you could get involved in student organizations, including sororities, or fraternities, and being on campus will make this engagement more possible.

Lastly, you can visit with professors more during their office hours to network and hopefully snag a letter of recommendation for later.

You can be a resident assistant

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While it might not be possible your first year, you could eventually be a resident assistant and get some perks. You may get some reduced tuition, room and board, or a stipend from serving as a resident assistant.

You can also enhance your leadership skills. You can help build these marketable skills for future employers by gaining these talents during your college career as a resident assistant.

Not only that but you can boost your resume with this experience.

You can show off your leadership capabilities by snagging one of these positions at your college.

Closer to amenities (walking distance)

When you live on campus, you’ll be able to quickly walk to your classes and might be more likely to attend every lecture.

If you live at home, and must commute, it might seem troublesome to attend every lecture. You could find yourself skipping class more often.

But when you are literally steps away from your classroom, you might be more likely to roll out of bed and make it to class instead of skipping.

Less transportation costs

When you are on campus, you will have fewer transportation costs. I have known plenty of college students who didn’t own a car. Think of the savings!

You can walk to all your classes, eat your meals on campus, and socialize on or near campus instead of commuting.

If you didn’t own a car, and have to pay for gas, car payment, parking, upkeep, registration, etc., you could save tons. Average rent payments for a car are easily over $600 right now.

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And sure, you could already have one paid for, but what about all the additional expenses. It’s estimated that owning a car costs its owner nearly $10,000 per year. Living on campus can help offset those costs.

More alone time

If you live by yourself off campus, you will inevitably be alone more compared to the dorm lifestyle. In a dorm room, at least for your first two years, you’ll likely have a roommate. This can definitely be tiring if you prefer to be alone more often, and consider yourself an introvert.

Your dorm roommate might have friends over often, and this could be overwhelming if you don’t want to socialize all the time. Not to mention the dorm hall life too.

There will be lots of people in the halls, late nights, and plenty of events in the residence halls.

You may prefer more solitude than what a dorm room can offer.

Distance to campus

Before you decide to live at home, you need to think about the distance to your campus.

If you must travel 20 minutes or more to get to campus, you might find that you’re having to drag yourself out of bed and dreading class because of the awful commute.

And the amenities that you are paying for with your tuition, you won’t get to use those as often because of the distance.

Think about on-campus computer labs, the library, and the campus amenities (gym, walking trails, etc).

You’ll miss out on those things more if you live off campus.


You may miss out on the campus lifestyle, but you might prefer your suburban or city lifestyle much more.

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Maybe you already have an amazing home or an apartment in the center of everything you love and call home.

Perhaps you enjoy your friends, and family way more than a few college parties.

It might be best to stay put then.


Almost all campuses have student jobs available. Getting a job on campus would be very convenient if you lived on campus.

These opportunities are usually plentiful and give you the ability to easily get to and from your job as opposed to having to commute instead.

And the job may prefer someone who lives on campus because of your responsibilities.


And now it just comes down to what you love most.

Did your whole family attend a particular college and you are excited to experience that lifestyle too?

Or you already purchased season tickets to every football game at your parent’s alma matter?

If you have a distinct love for a university, and will really relish in the college atmosphere, living on campus may be for you.

I have encountered other students who prefer more solitude and want to avoid the college lifestyle. Maybe you already have an amazing living situation and just need a degree. You might want to pass on the dorm life.

Whatever you decide, make sure you think of every angle before you make any decisions because you don’t want to look back and regret it. You only get this opportunity once.

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Well most of us do anyway.

And if you absolutely hate living on or off campus, you can make that change the next semester.

You aren’t stuck either way.

Take my quiz to help you decide if you should live on campus or commute to college


Is it better to live on campus or commute? ›

You Can Feel More Connected to Other Students

Students who live on campus often enjoy a greater sense of community than commuters. Living close to school facilities can make it easier for you to connect with classmates through campus activities and events.

Why is dorming better than commuting? ›

From missing out on opportunities, whether they be social events late at night or other on-campus activities, commuting can lead to a sense of exclusion from the campus community. There's also less time for homework depending on what time you have to leave the house or what time you return.

Do students living on campus do better academically? ›

Studies show that students who live on campus tend to: Complete more credit hours and have higher grade point averages. Become more involved with the campus community.

Is it better to commute to college? ›

The benefits of commuting to college are numerous, and it can help you save money in the long run. While commuting isn't for everyone, it can be a good way to focus on your studies with fewer distractions, and it could help you graduate on time.

What are two disadvantages of living off campus while attending college? ›

The Cons of Living Off-Campus
  • A longer commute is required unless your apartment is adjacent to campus. ...
  • Parking on campus may be an issue (and can be costly). ...
  • You may feel disconnected from campus life. ...
  • Costs may be higher. ...
  • An apartment complex may not be as flexible to student needs.
Jun 2, 2020

What are the disadvantages of living on campus? ›

  • Noise: Dorming means living with the rowdiest people on earth; teenagers. ...
  • No privacy: Living in student dorms will mean having a multitude in your room, your bathroom, your kitchen, and even your toilet. ...
  • Room checks and laundry struggles: Dorming has a way of reminding you that you're not independent.

What are the disadvantages of commuting? ›

4 cons of commuting to work
  • Commuting can affect your free time. Commuting can occupy a significant portion of an employee's day, so it may affect the amount of free time they have on weekdays. ...
  • It may be necessary to pay for your transportation. ...
  • Commuting may affect when you wake up. ...
  • You may experience traffic.
Jun 24, 2022

How do commuters survive college? ›

  1. 10 Tips for Commuters in College. Britney Amzler. ...
  2. Always Leave Early. Leave a little earlier than you have to. ...
  3. Don't Be Afraid To Talk to People. It's easy to feel disconnected as a commuter. ...
  4. Join Clubs or Get Involved. ...
  5. Make Friends with Residents. ...
  6. Keep Extra Supplies in Your Car. ...
  7. Take Advantage of Breaks. ...
  8. Use Campus Resources.
Mar 4, 2019

Why do people choose to live off campus? ›

Living off campus is cheaper than living in the on-campus dorms. Many college students are on a budget and need to be selective as to where they spend their money. If funds are tight, there are a number of options to live off campus in apartments that fit your budget.

What campus has the happiest students? ›

The 10 Colleges With the Happiest Students
  • Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Terre Haute, IN) ...
  • University of Dallas (Irving, TX) ...
  • Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, TX) ...
  • Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS) ...
  • Auburn University (Auburn, AL) ...
  • Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN) ...
  • Tulane University (New Orleans, LA)
Jan 4, 2023

What are some advantages and disadvantages of living on a college or university campus? ›

The Pros and Cons of Campus Housing
  • Socialization. One of the main purposes of on-campus housing, after providing students with a place to sleep when they're not studying, is to create a community. ...
  • Convenience. ...
  • Infrastructure. ...
  • Less Privacy. ...
  • Less Freedom. ...
  • More Expensive.

What college has the most students living on campus? ›

11 National Universities Where the Most Students Live on Campus
National University (state)Percent of undergrads living on campusU.S. News rank
California Institute of Technology8612 (tie)
Boston College8431
Clarkson University (NY)84129 (tie)
Yale University (CT)843 (tie)
8 more rows
Nov 15, 2016

How long is too long for a commute to college? ›

To maximize your chances of success in college, you should try to keep your commuting distance to less than 10 miles, or 30 minutes (whichever comes first), each way. Students who commute are at a natural “disadvantage” when it comes to academic success.

How much money do you save by commuting to college? ›

NBC News Freshman Year Experience contributor Darian Stevenson, who's in her first year at Southern Illinois University, chose to commute to save money. Stevenson estimates she saves $10,000 a year by commuting from home, and is paying for school entirely with scholarships and FAFSA.

Why do students choose to commute? ›

College students choose to commute, rather than live on campus, for a number of reasons. Cost is the most obvious reason. Students can save money by living at home and reducing the amount of college loans they will need to pay back. For other students, though, commuting simply feels more comfortable.

Is living at home during college worth it? ›

Living at home during college can allow you to save up and eventually get your own apartment. It can help reduce financial stress while in school for both the student and their parents, since college tuition fees can already be very hefty.

Is it cheaper to live on or off-campus in college? ›

The rental cost of living off-campus is cheaper than the price of a room or bed in the school, although additional running costs on utility, furniture, and fixtures might eventually scale up the cost of living outside the campus and bring it to par and sometimes more than the cost of college dorms.

Is it OK to stay at home during college? ›

Living at home during college can make it harder to feel connected to a campus. But students can still find plenty of opportunities to engage with their academic community. This list highlights some of the many campus resources available to help students connect with peers and create a satisfying college experience.

Why should college students live at home? ›

Your home is an ideal option with fewer distractions and noise. You can focus better on your studies without unwanted interruptions. One of the main advantages of staying at home is the chance actually to save some money. Your expenses for food and rent is less than what you would pay at the campus.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of living on or off campus? ›

Living off campus can help the process that allows students to mature into an adult. However, leaving on campus you don't have to worry about transportation, responsibility, social life, and cost. With living on campus students can easily walk to classes, the library, and the café.

What is the advantage of living in dorm? ›

Dorm rooms are equipped with features students need to succeed, and community amenities are tailored to students including quiet study rooms and fast Internet speeds. Form study groups with roommates and other students and stay focused on why you here in the first place.

What is considered too long of a commute? ›

The average U.S. commute to work of 26.1 minutes each way looks like a quick trip around the block compared to the travel times posted by extreme commuters. The U.S. Census Bureau defines extreme commuters as workers who travel 90 minutes or more each way to work.

How commuting affects your mental health? ›

Your Risk of Depression and Anxiety Escalate

The study also showed that those with a long commute were 33 percent more likely to deal with depression. All that stress also contributed to the physical health issues. While dealing with the anxiety and depression, commuters also struggled with obesity and less sleep.

Is commuting depressing? ›

Long-term effects of dealing with a stressful commute can be significant, including depression, ongoing anxiety, and a dread of the commute cycle. "Research proves that ongoing stress is detrimental to overall physical and psychological health," says Manly.

What are lifestyle challenges for commuter students? ›

A few of the numerous difficulties commuter students face include academic responsibility, family obligations, work, maintaining personal relationships, time management, financial obligations, and becoming acclimated to the university environment (Negga et al., 2007).

How stressful is commuting? ›

Commuting also has significant psychological and social costs. It can be a major cause of stress, due to its unpredictability and a sense of loss of control. Commuters can experience boredom, social isolation, anger, and frustration from problems like traffic or delays.

Does fafsa give more money if you live on campus? ›

The truth is that most students do not receive more financial aid if they live off campus. In fact, in many cases, they will receive less financial aid. Ultimately, the amount of aid you receive is determined by the university's estimates for on-campus and off-campus housing.

Does fafsa check if you live off campus? ›

Any student who plans to live off-campus must declare so in their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

How important is it to live on campus? ›

Benefits of Living On Campus

Research shows college students that live on campus experience the following in comparison to those that live off campus: Higher rates of retention, persistence, bachelor's degree attainment and graduate school entry. Higher grade point averages.

What college has the nicest people? ›

Friendliest Colleges in the US
  • Vanderbilt University – Nashville, Tennessee. ...
  • Rice University – Houston, TX. ...
  • Tulane University – New Orleans, LA. ...
  • College of William and Mary – Williamsburg, VA. ...
  • Colby College — Waterville, ME. ...
  • Clemson University – Clemson, SC. ...
  • University of California-Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara, CA.
Jan 1, 2023

What majors have the happiest students? ›

Computer science majors, with an average annual starting salary of almost $100,000, were the happiest overall, according to ZipRecruiter.

Is living in dorms better than apartments when in university? ›

Dorm life offers many perks and conveniences for college students, such as close proximity to campus and other students, shared living spaces, and more convenient meal plans. Dorms also often provide more privacy than apartments, which can be beneficial for some college students.

Where do the wealthiest students go to college? ›

The Colleges With The Richest Students
  • Stanford University. ...
  • Harvard University. ...
  • Princeton University. ...
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ...
  • University of Southern California (USC) ...
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ...
  • Duke University. ...
  • University of Pennsylvania.
Jan 16, 2023

What is the nicest college campus? ›

1Elon University Elon, North CarolinaVisit Site
2Kenyon College Gambier, OhioVisit Site
3Sewanee - The University of the South Sewanee, TennesseeVisit Site
4Pepperdine University Malibu, CaliforniaVisit Site
5Lewis & Clark College Portland, OregonVisit Site
45 more rows
Apr 23, 2021

What US city has the most college students? ›

Leading Large U.S. Metros for College Students
MetroTotal College Students
New York1,057,288
Los Angeles974,013
6 more rows
Sep 8, 2016

Is a long commute unhealthy? ›

Research has linked long commutes to a host of negative health impacts, from increased stress and poorer cardiovascular health to greater pollution exposure.

Do most college students commute? ›

Commuter students are defined as those who do not live in institution-owned housing on campuses. They make up more than 85 percent of today's college students.

Is it worth commuting 1 hour to college? ›

Well, even if not living in a dorm a student must live somewhere. Often living at home with parents is rent-free, and meals may be provided as well. In this case, with free rent and meals, the cost of a 1 hour commute to college may be worth it.

Is it better to be a commuter or live on campus? ›

Commuting to Campus

Cost Savings: Perhaps the most convincing reason to live at home and commute to class each day is the cost. Living on campus is an added investment. If you live within an hour of campus and want to save money, commuting may be an option for you.

Is commuting to college tax deductible? ›

Generally, commuting expenses can not be deducted on your tax return.

Why living on campus is better than commuting? ›

You Can Feel More Connected to Other Students

Students who live on campus often enjoy a greater sense of community than commuters. Living close to school facilities can make it easier for you to connect with classmates through campus activities and events.

Do people hate commuting? ›

Many employees detest the commute.

After all, who wants to spend hours of their week on an unproductive task before and after their 9-to-5? Commuting's unproductive nature can make work itself harder. A 2020 Springer survey of 26,000 workers uncovered a negative correlation between commute length and job satisfaction.

How does commuting affect college students? ›

Our study concluded that students having longer commutes experienced significant physical difficulties, higher levels of stress, and an increased risk of accidents. Furthermore, we found that students with increased commute times also seemed to lose sleep more frequently than those with shorter commute times.

Is it cheaper to live on campus or in an apartment? ›

Is it cheaper to live on or off campus? If you rely on public transit and cook most of your meals at home, living in an off-campus, one-bedroom apartment might run you roughly $1,500-$1,800 per month — more than the monthly cost of on-campus room and board. But with roommates, off-campus living could save you money.

Is it cheaper to live on or off campus in college? ›

The rental cost of living off-campus is cheaper than the price of a room or bed in the school, although additional running costs on utility, furniture, and fixtures might eventually scale up the cost of living outside the campus and bring it to par and sometimes more than the cost of college dorms.

What is the advantage of living on campus? ›

Higher grade point averages. Higher levels of participation in co-curricular activities, promoting their professional development and marketability to employers. Higher levels of interaction with faculty and peers. Higher degree of satisfaction with the college experience.

Do you get more money living on or off campus? ›

Do you receive more financial aid if you live off-campus? The short answer is no. For many students, financial aid is an important consideration when going to college, and even more so when deciding to live off-campus.

Is it better to rent an apartment or live in a dorm? ›

Apartments are Usually Cheaper than Dorms

While it may seem surprising, apartments are cheaper than college dorms. This is because dorms require students to pay semester fees for room and board. These fees cover the costs for utilities, laundry, and other services.

Is it worth it to live on campus? ›

Living on-campus is ideal for students who want to immerse themselves into the campus culture so much better and have easy access to school activities, organizations and parties. But it may not be the best option for those who are on a tight budget or value their privacy or being around their loved ones always.

Should I live at home or on campus? ›

Living on campus can be expensive choice. If you already have a room at home and are afforded decent amounts of independence and privacy there, you might consider saving some money by commuting to your classes rather than living on campus. The money that you save by living at home extends beyond housing costs as well.

Is staying at home for college worth it? ›

Living at home during college can allow you to save up and eventually get your own apartment. It can help reduce financial stress while in school for both the student and their parents, since college tuition fees can already be very hefty.

How much do college students spend on groceries a month? ›

The average cost of food per month for a college student is $667. College students spend on average $410 a month eating off-campus. Meals cooked at home average $257 a month when the cost of eating off-campus is included. A campus meal plan averages $450 a month.

Is it better to live on or off campus freshman year? ›

In most cases, students will find that living on campus their freshman year is a powerful way to be in touch with their college community. That's why so many Colleges of Distinction make residence life a dynamic and desired highlight of their first-year experience.

Do you get more financial aid if you live on your own? ›

Students who are independent do not have to supply their parents' information and often qualify for more student financial aid as a result.

Do you get more money from FAFSA if you live with your parents? ›

Schools then offer a financial aid package covering the difference between attendance costs and expected family contribution. Students who live at home enjoy lower attendance costs than those who live on campus or independently. As a result, these students may receive lower financial aid awards.

Is it better to say off campus or with parent on FAFSA? ›

A: You would select “off-campus.” Students should not select “With Parent” as their housing plan if they plan to live with a foster parent, relative caregiver, or legal guardian. Instead, select “Off-Campus.” This is crucial for getting all the money that is available to you to pay for your living expenses.


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