So you think you are a big timer. Seeing as you are too old and mature to live in a dorm, christening yourself “too cool for school,” you decide to take the plunge and live off-campus. Oh the freedom, the financial savings and not to mention, living in your very own house.
It may sound like a dream come true, but in reality it’s not always a fairy tale. Without further ado, I present my guide to off-campus living to help make your experience enjoyable and as successful as possible.
Your first dilemma is parking. The number one serious bummer about living off-campus is the commute. No longer can you just roll out of bed and walk two minutes to your class. You have to deal with traffic and worst of all, parking far away. Park Lot is a never-ending desert of cars and you can either find yourself somewhat close to campus or in the next zip code. As it gets colder, a long walk may also mean terrible discomfort or even death.
My advice to conquering this beast is to leave yourself extra time in the morning to stalk people in Park Lot. Under no circumstances should you settle for that far away spot. Look for people walking back to their cars and follow them. If you’re feeling bold you could even ask them where they are parked. Waiting for a better spot may in fact save time and, if nothing else, you will thank yourself at the end of the day.
The mid-day ritual known to most as lunch poses another problem. Being the cool off-campus person that you are, you probably don’t have a meal plan. Do you pay the exorbitant prices for on-campus food? Or do you venture off-campus to demolish the Wendy’s $.99 menu? Off-campus is the obvious choice, there’s just one small problem.Once you leave campus there is the tendency to stay off-campus, class or no class. The sad answer here is that you probably want to consider getting a small meal plan – Aramark, please remember it’s Rosen with an “s” when you write the check.
The next few issues have to deal with the house itself regarding rent and utilities. Now that you are off-campus, you don’t just pay one lump sum to ResLife for the semester.
You have to pay this thing called “rent,” which is easy enough to handle as it comes at the same time every month and is the same amount of money. However, utilities come at a variety of times and – shudder – vary in price. Make sure you put someone in your house in charge of utilities who is responsible since late payments yield fines. For your electric bill, the big money items are appliances – notably your fridge – so don’t freak out about having the lights or TV on for too long. In the winter heat is going to cost you a lot. If you want to be thrifty, bundle up and keep the house at 60 degrees. Also, if your parents are paying utilities, this is a good place to defraud them by exaggerating costs.
Cleaning can also become a burden. It is not until you live off-campus that you come to truly respect the people who used to clean your suite or bathroom on campus.
The area that tends to get the worst is the kitchen. This is a tough one, but try to work out some form of cleaning rotation in order to maintain your house, which ultimately never works out. If nothing else, make sure you take out the trash on the appropriate day and if that happens to include the pile of dishes from the sink, so be it.
Well, those are the biggies. Obviously there are a multitude of other issues such as mutant rats, crazy landlords, ghosts, sublets, in-house theft, getting mugged or shot and successfully negotiating with the guy that steals your empty cans, but you are on your own there.
So throw a burger on your now-legal Foreman grill and gather around the keg, assuming you are 21 of course, because you are off-campus now and the sky is the limit.
Rosen can be reached at