Dorm Vs. Apartment Living: Weigh the Pros and Cons

By: ROS Team

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Many first-year college students struggle with whether or not to live on or off campus. What you choose to do about where you live and what you study will have implications for the rest of your life.

When selecting whether to live in a college dorm or an apartment, here are a few factors to keep in mind.

Is It Better To Live In an Apartment or a Dorm?

Choosing a place to call home is something you’ll have to do immediately. Should you live in a dorm on campus or in a city apartment? Examining your choices, evaluating what characteristics are most important to you, and then selecting the best match will help you make a clear decision regarding your college housing.

When considering whether to live in a dorm or an apartment, it is essential to thoroughly weigh the pros and drawbacks of both kinds of housing options. Any configuration may be effective, but one may be preferred. Since this is an entirely personal decision, what is great for you may not necessarily be the best choice for your high school buddy attending the same institution like you. So consider their different features to discover the accommodation that suits your needs.

Pros of Dorm Living

Should I Rent a Dorm?

If you are up to renting a dorm, the internet, phone, cable, water, and power are often included in the cost of a student’s tuition. The monthly rent in an apartment is much more costly than the minor connection fees charged by some institutions for cable or Internet so you might consider it.


Nothing compares to the ease of living in a college dorm. They’re frequently in the heart of campus, close to eating halls, popular study spots, and lecture rooms. This adds to a sense of belonging to your campus and the distinctiveness of the college experience. Because on-campus events are conveniently accessible, living in a dorm may tickle your curiosity.

Social Factor

In college, roommates may become some of our closest lifetime friends, and living in a dorm enables you to meet and hang out with others via communal meals, washing, and study space. Free social events in dorms are also well-known for fostering community and fostering a sense of belonging among residents.

Save Energy, Time, and Money

There are several more advantages to living on campus. You won’t have to worry about a long trip to and from class, and you won’t have to worry about additional expenditures like gas or power bills.

Cons of College Dorm Living

Reduced Privacy

One of the well-known drawbacks of living on-campus is the lack of personal space. Most tenants will share a room with at least one person, and dormitories typically only feature shared facilities and showers.

Few Amenities

Dormitories and bedrooms are often quite simple, as is the rest of the building. The majority are simply furnished with a bed, a desk, and a tiny closet. Because some dormitories do not provide housekeeping services, you and your roommates will be responsible for regular vacuuming and light cleaning.

Pros of Apartment Living

Space and Privacy

It’s common for apartment dwellers to have more fabulous rooms. By default, you are not required to share your bedroom with a stranger; it is yours alone. At the very least, you’ll be able to do so with your fellow travelers in the restroom. In addition, you’ll have access to a gym, a swimming pool, and a community clubhouse.

Apartment Selection

It’s your choice rather than being allocated a room when you reside in an apartment. That implies you may select between a high-rise or a lower-rise apartment. On the other hand, even if you submit room preferences, your dorm room assignment is nearly always at someone else’s discretion.

Cons of Apartment Living

Commuting is Necessary

This is the main drawback of living off-campus. Every day, you will confront the difficulty of campus, exacerbated by parking shortages. This means extra gas money and often risking your sanity to get to class on time.

Roommate Selection

Choosing a roommate in an apartment is more challenging than a roommate in a dorm since you’re responsible for screening who that individual is. If you and many college pals decide to rent an apartment together, things may be more accessible. However, if you’re a first-year student, you won’t have the luxury of time.

Cost Comparison

When wondering about living on or off-campus, it’s good to think about which is more cost-effective. Let’s break that down.

Cost of Living: Dorm

$8,887 per typical academic year is the average cost of room and board at a medium-sized public college or university. For private schools, this expense might rise tremendously. While attending summer school or other special winter courses on campus, room and board are not included in this fee.

Cost of Living: Apartment

You can expect to pay around $1,178 per month in rent for a two-bedroom apartment. The average monthly utility expense for a similar residence is $150. You’ll still need to factor in other expenditures, such as food and transportation while calculating your budget. However, keep in mind that this will differ according to your city and region of the nation. If you live with a roommate, you may share part of the costs of the home.

From this breakdown, it’s reasonable to deduce that apartments are often less expensive than dormitories.

Why Freshman Year Should Live in College Dorms

Living in a college dorm as you start your post-high school career has certain benefits that everyone should experience. These include:

  • Learning to transition from living at home to becoming more independent.
  • Learning how to live with others, either as roommates or in shared environments.
  • Meeting new people from all over the country and making new friends.


Is Living in a Dorm More Expensive than an Apartment?

The cost of living in a dorm varies by institution and location, but it’s generally less expensive than renting an apartment. However, apartments offer more flexibility in terms of lease length and roommate options.

Are Dorms Safe?

Most colleges and universities take safety seriously and have security measures in place to protect students. However, dorms can be more vulnerable to theft and other crimes due to the shared living spaces and frequent turnover of residents.

Is it Harder to Study in a Dorm or Apartment?

This can vary depending on personal preferences and the living environment. Dorms may offer more opportunities for socializing and distractions, while apartments can provide a quieter and more private space for studying.

What are the Meal Options like in a Dorm Versus an Apartment?

Dorms typically offer meal plans or dining options on-site, while apartments require residents to prepare their own meals or purchase food off campus. However, apartments offer more flexibility in terms of dietary restrictions and preferences.

Can I have Guests Over in a Dorm or Apartment?

This depends on the specific rules and policies of the institution or landlord. Generally, dorms have more restrictions on guests and overnight stays, while apartments allow for more freedom in terms of visitors and socializing.

What are the Lease Terms for a Dorm Versus an Apartment?

Dorms typically operate on a semester or academic year basis, while apartments often require a longer lease commitment, such as a year or more.


Consider all of the expenditures connected with different living arrangements before selecting which may be the best choice for you: a dorm or an apartment. Each will have its own set of problems and benefits, but they will aid you in your journey toward maturity and parent-free living arrangements. There is no one-size-fits-all option for deciding whether to live in a dorm or an apartment while in college.

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