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College Advice

Dorm vs Apartment: Pros & Cons Of Both

DormEssentials November 25, 2020

Moving out of your parents’ house and staying in a new environment is an exciting yet stressful time. Living away from home is one of the most exciting and best decisions you can do to help build your life skills. You will likely find yourself confronted with the choice between a dorm or an apartment just after you get your admission done. Even if you’ve lived in the dorms your freshman year, you now have to consider if you want to live in a dorm vs apartment for your sophomore year and beyond.  If you are still deciding whether you want to reside on your campus or move outdoors, you will reach an answer at the end of this article. Figuring out the best living solution might bring you plenty of benefits whereas a wrong decision can make your life miserable. What is best for you might depend on the perks and amenities you desire, and what year you are in. Both on-campus and off-campus life have their pros and cons and here is a detailed overview of what a dorm vs apartment has to offer. While there is no immediate right answer, the decision you make should be based on which pros and cons are more important to you in our list below. So, what is better, living in a dorm or apartment? In general, we recommend dorms for your earlier year, and apartments for your later years in the dorm vs apartment decision. Apartment living is generally a bit more isolated and for those getting older. You can learn more about apartment living at apartmentessentials.com.  For freshman and sophomores, we recommend living in a dorm over an apartment because you will be surrounded by more similar aged and minded students, but here are other factors to consider when picking a dorm vs apartment.


The majority of the universities provide a place in the student residence halls, for a reasonable fee. The university dorm might be a good option for those who have never been away from their family. In most situations, it is cheaper to live on campus than in apartments. Here are a few benefits in detail to let you weigh the pros of the college dorm.

  1. Alone, but Never Lonely

If you’re moving away from your family, friends, and surroundings for the very first time, college dorms can give you a once in a lifetime experience with likeminded and aged individuals. Dorm life will introduce you to a bunch of new people from around the world. You will notice the cultural differences and similarities from your fellow roommates, and classmates. You will get the golden chance of socializing every day. How about watching your favorite show, or playing games with your friends whenever you feel like it? You might have moved into the dorms from far away, but the dormitory will make you right at home at your new school.

  1. Save more money

Saving money in college is on almost everyone’s mind. Imagine living off-campus. Expenses like electricity, water, service charges, Wifi will start floating in your head now and then. If you are living in a dorm, no need to worry about paying for these services and their installation. You’ll enjoy greater bandwidth and free from more costly bills. An apartment may or may not be furnished but the dorms are often well-furnished with basic furniture. Most dorms feature meal plans, while other dorms have separate kitchens to cook your food. You will save some time by avoiding frequent trips to grocery stores, possibly saving a quick dime. Also, you will have access to dorm cafeterias for satisfying late-night cravings.

  1. Proximity to classes

It is much more convenient if you stay on-campus as your classes and other main areas of your campus might be just a few steps away. Even if some places might seem far, you can take a walk or a bicycle to reach there. That means, if you wake up late, you’ll easily be able to get to class on time. What’s more is, you will not need to find some mode of transportations and save additional bucks by preventing Uber bills, fuel costs, and metro rail fares. It is also convenient to live near other university buildings like the library, recreation center, and computer labs.

  1. More Involvement in Extracurricular Activities

One major benefit of living in a dorm is the opportunity to participate in different on-campus activities. You are most likely to attend a lot of competitions, debates, sports, leadership opportunities, and other artistic events. Some dorms also provide a common TV room, game room, laundry room, and even gym where you can nurture your hobbies. There is never a moment when activities are paused so there is no chance, you’ll have to sit idle. You can expand your social life by having more social events to add to your calendar.

  1. A Secured Environment

Students’ safety is the priority of colleges. Most colleges have security systems such as I.D. activated key locks in rooms and a night security guard on standby. You can just walk around at 2-3 A.M without any fear of getting robbed. Campuses have security cameras to monitor unusual events whereas a front desk to restrict unknown entrances. There is no such secure environment as this and you never need to get tensed by break-ins, thefts, and petty crime. Resident advisors generally exist on each dorm floor to help students navigate issues and conflicts as well.


Now that you know about the benefits of living on-campus, there are a few reasons you might need to look for apartments. Not everything comes with advantages only. Here are some of the cons of living in a dorm that you need to know.

  1. Struggles of not getting enough privacy

You will be living with hundreds of other students near you 24/7. You might feel strange if you are not accustomed to this kind of surroundings.  Since you have to share your bedroom with other roommates you might not get the privacy you had in your house. Some dorms also have community bathrooms for the entire floor which adds difficulties to privacy and tranquility. Finding alone time can be tough.

  1. Strict rules and regulations to follow

With all the fun and excitement going around, dorms are subjected to strict rules and regulations. Resident advisors are always toiling around to make sure every student and dorm is complying with the campus policies. Genders restrictions, alcohol consumptions, overnight guests, and quiet hours. Any kind of reported incident can result in serious punishment or expulsion.

  1. Distractions all around

It’s obvious with thousands of other students nearby you have to bear with the noises around you. Some may get distracted from studies and spend more time on-campus activities, social gatherings, and other sports. This may hamper the flow of your studies and eventually result in failing grades. If you are a person who likes to live on your own, your personality might clash with the noisy environment. Or, if you don’t have good self control, there are a lot of temptations which will make it hard to properly balance studying, work, and social life.

  1. Expensive meal plans

If you love cooking and choose what you want to eat every day, living off-campus is the way to go. However, a lot of dorms don’t have a kitchen so you cant cook anytime. You either have to go to the dining hall, the food court, or order your food. Some dorms have expensive meal plans that you are bound to choose from whereas if you would live in your apartment, you can eat well on a small budget.

Now that we have discussed the pros and cons of the dorm, it is time to see what the apartment has to offer. Dorm vs apartment has no clear winner but by analyzing the merits and demerits you will come to a conclusion that suits your personality and lifestyle best. Staying in an apartment also has both pros and cons and here is a brief discussion analyzing the factors.


  1. Better amenities

A typical dorm includes a bed, study table, and dressers. The room isn’t quite spacious and the fact that it is being shared with one or more people can feel suffocating. Apartments appeal to college students who want spacious, multiple rooms to roam around freely and have their private space. You get your bedroom, dining, private bathroom, and living space which is not possible to get in dorms. There may be on-site amenities like tennis courts, fitness centers, and swimming pools. An apartment is not very noisy like dorms so you can study peacefully without any distractions.

  1. More independence and freedom

As said earlier, dorms often have strict rules and regulations to follow and more importantly, students are always monitored by resident advisors. Any violation of the dorm policies can cost you a lot, even in disciplinary action. While the policies and restrictions are for your safety, some of them can be annoying. On the contrary, if you are staying in an apartment you are free to do whatever you want unless it is illegal or getting too loud. You are free to move in and out anytime, invite friends over, and experience the freedom that comes in. Also, you have complete control over choosing your roommates or choosing to live on your own.

  1. Additional financial benefits

The financial benefit of living in an apartment other than a dorm will mostly depend on apartment size and location. You might arrange an apartment with lower rent than what dorms will cost you. Even if the apartment seems expensive, you will have the options to share with your friends and split the costs. You can also save additional bucks by avoiding the meal plans that dorms require dorm residents to purchase. Living in an apartment means you are likely to cook your food within your budget. Dorms require you to pay additional costs like utilities, laundry services, maintenance, and service fees. In the case of apartments, you only pay for what you need.

  1. More concentration and complete privacy

Though you will need to share the apartment with your roommates, you will generally have your own private room that allows you to enjoy your complete privacy and keep your door shut when needed. While in a dorm, you will be sharing a room with few others and so privacy is hampered. What adds more to the struggle is the noisy environment that prevents you from concentrating harder on your lessons. Being surrounded by more people might result in conflicts and arguments between friends, roommates, or others.

  1. Gain some life lessons

Just when you step into a life away from your family, new responsibilities come in. Living off-campus gives you a gentle push into adulthood and gets mature by time. Though you might struggle in the initial period, the new responsibilities will let you learn life lessons every day. From cleaning, grocery shopping, basic maintenance, and cooking you have to deal with these all alone. You might also need to communicate and build professional relationships with the landlord, property manager, and other concerns.


Who would want to cook and clean on their own when it’s all-ready in dorms? Also staying isolated, you will be far away from all the fun activities, giveaways, and adventures. Have a look at some of the drawbacks of living in an apartment.

  1. Increased Responsibility

A huge benefit of living in a dorm is that you are free from a lot of responsibilities and liabilities. You don’t have to stress about your grocery ending up, bills on due, or laundry and cleaning. Installing amenities such as cable or internet is also a matter of concern wherein dorms you get all these pre-installed. Do you really enjoy cooking every day? While you might be an expert in cooking, this can eat much of your scheduled work.

  1. Sense of Isolation

If you are residing in an apartment far away from your campus, you might feel isolated from your peers and school. Socializing gets tougher if you are staying away and there is a chance you miss important events, gatherings, and enjoyment. By staying on campus you will get opportunities to contribute to group projects and meet diverse people in the way. However, if you are staying in a separate apartment you are most likely to sit in your bedroom alone.

  1. No way to skip the commute

One of the hardest things about living off-campus is waking way too early to catch up with daily classes. Even if you stay nearby you have to get up 10-15 minutes before your class. What if the weather is bad? A 10 minutes’ drive in a heavy storm can ruin your mood to attend classes. On the other hand, if you choose to stay on-campus you could just run into your pajamas and also have an option to take a short nap after class.

  1. Depriving yourself of social benefits

When you are on campus you will meet new people almost every day. You will have friends from people around the world. Isn’t that something you would fear missing out on? Yes, you probably will if you choose to rent an apartment and stay isolated from all the fun. Dorm supervisors also arrange different cultural events, movie nights, disco parties that help build communication skills and a great way to make more friends. By staying off-campus you will be deprived of all fun, excitement, and enjoyment that comes along with dorm life.

  1.  Financial Stress

Living in an apartment can be financially stressful too. Would you like to spend extra bucks for just some private space? Not that separate apartments will be expensive, sometimes dorms will cost you more including all the additional fees. But factors like utility bills, internet, grocery, maintenance, transportation costs, and other things will create financial complexities if you choose an apartment over dorms. Make sure you look at the numbers closely before you step into a decision.


Now that you know the breakdown of the positives and negatives of the dorm vs apartment debate, you might be still struggling with the decision. To help you weigh the cost we are here to help you. If you have never been away from your family, dorms can be a great choice. Also, the off-campus expenses such as food, cable/internet, and utilities can create an extra hassle for you. You must do the calculations as sometimes a nearby apartment might end up being more affordable than dorms. However, apartments can be a good choice for students who desire freedom, privacy, and peaceful environment.

Budgeting is more challenging when analyzing the dorm vs apartment argument. An apartment may sound fun and all-private but the struggles of setting furniture, household supplies, longer commutes are in no way thrown apart. Dorms are more secure than apartments and offer a chance of socializing. Apartment communities now offer a social experience like resident parties, movie and game nights, yoga/gym classes with minimal fees.

Dorms are much more secure than apartments and you will be glad to find out that there are only a few things to worry about if you choose a dorm. From finding someone to fix your leaking kitchen taps to managing your time everything is a bit easier when you are selecting dorms.


So, is it better to live in a dorm or apartment? Based on our factors, a dorm is better for early years like freshman and sophomore, and a apartment is better for junior and senior years as you mature towards graduation. Who do you think won the dorm vs apartment debate? There is no best or worst choice here. This choice is as confusing as deciding which college to go for. However, each of the options has its own unique perks and challenges and taking decisions gets a lot easier when you know what you desire. You will need to weigh all the costs associated with dorm and apartment living to determine which is a better fit for you. According to our choice, for the initial period, you can choose to stay in the dorm to test the waters, and then move outdoors after the first year if you think it’s time. In the end, it is a decision that truly comes down to individual needs and preferences. We hope this guide makes the tough choice a little easier to make.

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