Deciding between living on or off-campus
accomodation expenses cost of living

Deciding between living on or off-campus

Ashok R

Table of Contents

You're leaving home and settling in a new country. And this means settling into a whole new way of life. One of the more critical decisions you have to make is whether you want to live on campus or off-campus. And given that you'll be paying in dollars, you need to give the choice you make some thought.

Difference between On and Off-Campus accommodation

On-Campus Housing: This is when you stay in a hostel or dorm on campus.

Off-Campus Housing: This is when you choose to take a house or flat for rent and stay off-campus. If you go down this path, it's on you to find a home, find roommates to share the rent and figure out how to pay the security deposit.

Choosing between living on and off-campus

Take into account living costs

If you want to live off-campus, you need to familiarize yourself with the rules. Some campuses need you to rent from university-approved apartments, and others might require you to live on campus for some time as a part of their policy.

Staying off-campus will require you to decide how to commute to college. Do you need a car? If so, you'll need to make a down payment and incur monthly bills for gas, parking and insurance. Is there some form of public transport that links your home to the college? Then you might need a transport pass of some sort. If you look for accommodation closer to the office, the rents might be higher as that will be a coveted area by other students.

If you stay on-campus, you won't have to pay for your daily commute and your utility and internet bills will be covered in your fees. That doesn't mean it will always be cheaper. So do a cost analysis before deciding.

Meal options (chomp, chomp)

While food is essential, you might think it isn't that big of a deal when it comes to costs. But it forms a big chunk of your expenses (and skipping meals isn't a solution or a good idea). But you can get clever here and choose your meal plans accordingly. Universities often offer different meal plans, and you can select the most cost-effective one for you.

If you're staying off-campus, you can still have your meals in college. You might also consider buying food items and storing them in your room to reduce your overall costs. Hat-tip - If you have extended family or relatives nearby, try and drop in on occasion for a meal. You'll get some great home-cooked food and also save on costs.

Making the choice that works for you

Ultimately, your choice wrests on more than one thing. If you think staying on campus will help you make more friends as you're in a new country, you can consider that. If you need to support yourself with a part-time job off-campus, that might influence your decision on where you want to stay. If your relatives stay in the same area, you might want to stay with them (provided they are willing to accommodate you). As a student, you will have limited resources and will need to work around them.


Whether you're staying on or off-campus, you'll still incur expenses from the moment you land in the U.S. Zolve gives you a high-limit U.S. Credit Card (up to $5,000 credit limit) and U.S. Bank Account, which you can apply for from your home country itself. What's more, the entire process takes less than 5 minutes, and you can start building your credit score in the U.S. from day one.