On Campus vs Off Campus Accommodation

Choosing where to live during your international study adventure is a significant decision that can impact your overall experience. International students often find themselves weighing the pros and cons of living on campus vs living off campus. Each option offers a unique set of advantages and challenges. In this blog, we’ll explore those advantages to each of these options along with the considerable disadvantages to weigh in the on campus vs off campus accommodation comparison. We shall also take into account various aspects that can help compare both on-campus accommodation and off-campus accommodation. Let us now jump to discussing these two housing options individually since it is a significant part of studying abroad

On-Campus Accommodation: Pros and Cons to Live on Campus

On-campus accommodation refers to the residential accommodation that your educational institute provides within the premises. In most cases, the on-campus accommodation either provides a dormitory or sharing and indicates housing options within your school’s or college’s premises. However, sometimes when building an on-campus accommodation is not possible within the premises, you may be provided with options a little far from the institute, but it is run and managed by the institute itself.

5 Benefits of Living on Campus

Now, coming back to the discussion of choosing to live on campus or off campus, on-campus accommodation is considered more convenient. Convenience here is used in terms of amenities provided to the student, security by the school/university, pre-arranged meals, social interaction, and proximity to class. Living off campus does not usually deliver the above-mentioned benefits. Let us now discuss these pros in detail below to shed more clarity on the differences between on campus vs off campus housing.

It is Very Convenient

Needless to mention, if you live on campus, it will be very convenient in terms of commuting and accessing the facilities within the institute. Since a lot of facilities are already available within the on-campus accommodation, you don’t also have to arrange everything when you move in.

Better Chances of Social Interaction

Living off campus takes away the chance to interact with your classmates and other friends while at home. You go back to an empty room and homesickness is bound to kick in. However, when you live on campus, that is not the case. Vibrant campus housing and living with peers from college or school makes it easier to stay in an unknown land.

The Sense of Security

Many campuses prioritize safety and have security measures in place. This can provide peace of mind for international students who may be new to the area. But, when you stay on your own in an off-campus accommodation, it is not as secure as the institute premises.

Student Support Services

There are countless things that can go wrong when you start living in a new country. You can require immediate medical attention and not know the way to any of the nearest hospitals. Assistance with visa or travel arrangements is yet another concern for international students. On-campus accommodations have student support services who actively assist you with all such matters.

You Don’t Have to Plan Your Meals

One significant concern for an international student studying abroad is food. Not only is the food unfamiliar to the students but they also have a hard time cooking food for themselves. This is where it could be beneficial to live on campus. Your meals will be planned, arranged, and prepared by the on-campus accommodation system and you need not worry about the same.

5 Cons of Living on Campus

While we have discussed various benefits of living on campus, it is not always the ideal choice for international students. There are various cons to living on campus as well. From lack of privacy to limited space in dormitories or rooms, it is not all happy. Let us discuss the drawbacks of off-campus accommodation now. When you have both pros and cons, you can weigh the option of on-campus accommodation properly to make a choice between on campus vs off campus accommodation.

It is Known To be Quite Expensive

While cost can not be a determinative factor in the debate of choosing to live on campus or off campus, it can be one of the reasons you may prefer living off campus. As per a report by the Education Data Initiative, for four-year public schools, students who live on campus pay an average of $11,520 while students living off campus pay an average of $11,365.

The numbers vary a bit for private schools, too, but there as well, on-campus accommodation is more expensive than living off campus. However, note that this difference is merely when we have not weighed the option of staying in shared apartments off-campus, which can be even affordable.

You Can Struggle for Space

As an international student, it is quite justified if you carry a lot of stuff with you. However, how can you manage with rooms being so small that it can’t even accommodate all your stuff? Well, this is definitely a known concern for students who live on campus.

You Live By the Rules

We are all used to the freedom of staying at home and doing whatever we want. But, that is not the case when you choose on-campus accommodation. You need to follow the rules as stated in the accommodation guidelines. It can sometimes be frustrating and inconvenient as per different circumstances.

Lack of Privacy

Do not expect to enjoy some time alone or invite a friend over when living in an on-campus accommodation. Shared dormitories or rooms with shared walls eliminate the aspect of privacy from your daily life and you simply need to enjoy your life outside.

You Don’t Get to Choose Your Roommate

When you choose to live on campus, you are playing with luck when it comes to your roommate. You could end up with someone from an entirely different nation with a very different lifestyle. While not having to stay alone is one of the benefits of living on campus, it could be the other way around for you.

On-Campus Accommodation: Pros and Cons to Live on Campus

Off-Campus Accommodation: Pros and Cons of Living Off Campus

Off-campus accommodation is when you don’t live on campus and stay at a place of your own. Living off campus can have both pros and cons to it and here we shall discuss the same for international students studying abroad.

5 Benefits of Living Off Campus

Studying abroad is a huge opportunity itself and it is also a chance to build a strong network. When deciding between on campus vs off campus accommodation, knowing about the various benefits of off-campus accommodation can help. From no restrictions to lower expenses, let us discuss the advantages of living off campus.

You Live As You Want

At the end of the day, when a person is free from study and work, all they need is to relax and live as they want. This is a major aspect when choosing between on campus vs off campus housing. Because when you live on campus, you need to follow their rules and regulations. Independence is hence a huge benefit of living off campus.

Lower-Expenses, Sometimes

Well honestly, this is a rather debatable pointer. While in numbers, it is seen that the rent and living expenses of on-campus accommodation is more than that of off-campus accommodation, it is not entirely true.

Sometimes, when making this comparison, we miss out on the point that living off campus involves expenditure on assets that are usually provided to you on campus. This includes furniture, utensils, and many uncountable items. So, while you spend lower on rent, you might be spending a lot on assets.

You Get to Choose Your Room Space

It would have been wrong to mention that you get more space when living off campus. It is not always the case. Some people can not afford spacious rooms off campus and end up with smaller rooms than on-campus accommodation. But, one benefit is that when you choose off-campus accommodation, you get to pick your space yourself.

Privacy As You Want

Besides not living by rules, you also get a lot of privacy when living off campus (unless you share a room with someone of course). You can invite people, party, or do whatever you want without worrying about other people eyeing it or hearing all your conversations.

You Learn to Live On Your Own

While this will be pretty much covered as you move to a different country alone, it is also important to learn life skills. You do that when you take care of your groceries, laundry, expenses, and maintenance of the house amongst other things. Staying off campus teaches you that.

5 Cons of Living Off Campus

Like everything else, choosing to stay off campus has its own pros and cons and now we will discuss the cons. This will help you make an informed choice between On Campus vs Off Campus Accommodation.

You Will Be Tired From All The Travel

One thing a person usually hates is to spend hours commuting to their destination. This will be your life when choosing to live off campus. It is not only difficult but also very expensive to get a place close to your college. So, you will either be paying a lot of rent or be traveling a lot when living off campus.

Initial Cost is Too Much

As we mentioned above, the cost when comparing the differences between on campus vs off campus housing can not be a determining factor. If someone says that living off campus is simply more affordable, he/she probably does not know about the hefty security deposits you need to pay.

You Can End Up Isolating Yourself

One benefit we discussed about the on-campus housing was that there, you are always surrounded by people. Living off campus with friends does not happen in the beginning. It will take time. So, starting off and staying off campus and ending up with you feeling isolated. Do it only if you are prepared.

You are Responsible for Everything

Think about it. Will you have time to go grocery-shopping after a busy day at school and work? Well, if you live off campus, that is not the only thing you need to do. From laundry, maintenance, dusting, and more, you will have to do everything around the place.

You Will Feel a Lack of Amenities

When living by yourself, it is not easy to simply purchase a coffee machine. That costs a lot and you won’t do that. On the other hand, such amenities are always available when it comes to on-campus accommodation.

Off-Campus Accommodation: Pros and Cons of Living Off Campus

Factors to Consider For On Campus vs Off Campus Accommodation

Budget: Determine your budget and compare the costs of on-campus and off-campus housing options, including rent, utilities, and transportation.

Personal Preferences: Consider your lifestyle and personal preferences. Do you value independence and privacy, or do you thrive in a more communal environment?

Location: Think about the location of the housing in relation to campus. How far is it, and is public transportation readily available?

Community and Social Life: Consider how important it is for you to be part of the campus community and social events. If this is a priority, on-campus housing might be more suitable.

Amenities and Facilities: Evaluate the amenities and facilities provided by both on-campus and off-campus options. What do you value most in your living space?

Roommates: If you choose off-campus housing with roommates, be sure to consider their compatibility and your living arrangements carefully.

Safety: Research the safety and security of both on-campus and off-campus areas. Your peace of mind is crucial.

Availability: Sometimes, housing options can be limited, so it’s essential to start your search early and secure a spot that meets your needs.

Cultural Experience: Think about how living on or off-campus will affect your cultural immersion and adjustment to the new environment.


The decision to live on campus or off-campus as an international student is a personal one and depends on various factors, including your budget, preferences, and priorities. Weigh the pros and cons of On Campus vs Off Campus Accommodation carefully, and consider the unique aspects of your university and location. Keep in mind that your housing choice can significantly influence your overall study abroad experience, so make a choice that aligns with your goals and values. Whether you opt for the vibrant campus community or the independence of off-campus living, your international adventure will undoubtedly be a transformative and enriching journey.

We can help you get started with this journey with our visa services. Contact VIS to know more. We can also help if you need help with budgeting tips with our blog.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is living on campus better than living off campus?

Living on campus can have various benefits over living off campus including more convenience, less commute, better chances for social interaction, security, and student support services.

Can International Students live off campus?

Yes. International students can choose to live off campus. However, it is advisable to check with your college because some colleges have residential programs.

Is it smarter to live on campus or off campus?

None amongst the two is a smarter choice. It depends upon your priorities in terms of finance, space and more. However, in the beginning as you go to a new country, it might be better to stay on campus and learn about the place first.

Is living on campus more expensive than living off campus?

In strict rental numbers, living on campus seems to be more expensive as per some reports. However, you should also take into account various other expenses like furniture, amenities, groceries, and more that you pay for when you live off campus.

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