Life In College: Finding The Perfect Home

Student accommodation can be more expensive closer to campus. Pexels image (CC0).
Girl Study College
She studies in her own place, which she chose using the advice in this post. Pexels photo, CC0.

It’s that time of year again, where you need to start getting ready for the college semester. Depending on what point you’re at in your college career, you might not be living in student accommodation. Instead, you might have been left to find your own place to live in the world, far from the security of a student dorm room. Actually, choosing where you want to live is one of the first important independent decisions that you will make as a student. You need to make the right choice here, and there are numerous considerations. Let’s look at them and ensure you find the right place to live for your life in college.

Bare Minimum Or Big And Beautiful?

Where to Live College
Do you really need all the bells and whistles in the place where you live while going to university? Photo via Pexels, CC0.

If you have some money in your account or you don’t mind borrowing, you may be tempted to get a big and beautiful place to live when you start your next year of college. But is this the smart decision? Sure, it would be nice to come home to a luxury place to live where you can lie back after a long day of lectures in a massive bathtub. Or, sink into a leather sofa and watch TV on a massive screen. But be careful, because if it’s too comfortable, you might never want to leave. You could miss a lot of lectures and classes simply because you don’t want to leave the comfort of your beautiful home. College should really be like a budget holiday. The place you choose to stay should have the essentials, but you can forget the bells and whistles. Basically, what you need is a place with a comfortable bed, a small TV, a place where you can sit with friends, a nice enough bathroom, and a working kitchen. Anything else is just going to distract you from your commitment to college.

Oh, there is one other factor that definitely needs to be a part of your college accommodation, and that’s internet. Wherever you choose to live should be a place that provides you with high internet speeds that you can count on. You don’t want to be in the position where you can’t download the information that you need because the internet is too slow. Nor, do you want to be in a position where you have to head to college every time you want to work online. That’s going quickly become incredibly annoying. Luckily, there is a way around this issue, and that’s to rent a place in the right area. This brings us to our next question.

Where Should Your College Accommodation Be?

Where to Live
Student accommodation can be more expensive closer to campus. Pexels image (CC0).

Ideally, you want to be as close as possible. That’s going to make the early morning trudge to lectures a lot easier for you. Unfortunately, you’ll typically find that student accommodation near the university is a lot more expensive. As such, you will probably want to live a little further away. The typical rule is that you don’t want to spend more than forty minutes getting to and from university each day. A twenty-minute walk would be the ideal situation and will mean that you are far enough away that you don’t have to deal with the noise from the university.

Who Should You Live With?

Girl Roommates Uni
Roommates, yay or nay? Pexels, CC0 license.

During your first year of university, you will be making different groups of friends. At this point, there may be a time when it could be worth bringing up living arrangements for the next semester. You will usually find that there are at least a few people who have the same idea. You don’t want it to be like a dorm where there are ten people. If you do this, there will always be a divide between those who want to keep things quiet and peaceful and those who want to party. Unless of course, you select people very carefully, but even then things tend to go awry. You should be aiming to live with four or five other people. The benefit here is that you’ll be keeping costs of accommodation super low because you can share it out evenly. It also makes chores a little easier because everyone can pull their own weight.

The best idea when you’re living with a group is to look at houses rather than apartments. If you are getting a house rental, then you can make sure that everyone has enough space to breathe freely. It means that someone can be cooking and watching TV while another can be happily studying in their room, hopefully without one disturbing the other.

Other Essential Features

Security Features Home
Safe and secure accommodation is essential. Pexels, CC0 License.

There are a few other features that you need to look for in your student accommodation. You need to make sure that is safe and secure. If you are buying an apartment, it is worth considering the possibility of getting one that has the best security features. For instance, there should be electronic locks on the door and possibly even CCTV systems. If you live in a building with low levels of security, you could find yourself in trouble with both thefts and break ins. Don’t trust the landlord when they tell you it’s a safe neighborhood. They will say anything to get a tenant staying there. You might want to ask people in other apartments whether they have had an issue with break ins or any crimes in the building before. Ask around, and you can make sure you’re not making the wrong decision here.

This is another advantage of renting a home rather than an apartment. You’ll often find houses are in neighborhoods or on streets that have low crime rates. Of course, there’s no guarantee that a house will be more secure and you really need to think carefully about the level of security on offer before you agree to rent.

As well as security look at both maintenance and cleanliness. While we agree that you should be looking for a place that is fairly budget friendly, that doesn’t mean you should be living in a cesspit. Any issues with your accommodation will distract you from college and could lead you to get lower grades as a result. No one wants to come back after a long day and find their place is crawling with insects or perhaps have issues with the plumbing.

Again, if possible, it’s worth asking other tenants of the landlord what their experiences have been. If the issues are fixed quickly for them, you can bet the same will be true for you. However, if they constantly struggle to get in touch with the landlord, you may want to think twice about living there. Be sure to check out reviews of different buildings online. You’ll generally find that past tenants are more than happy to divulge bad experiences in the hope of making sure others don’t make the same mistake that they did.

Is It Worth Buying?

Buy or Not College Years
Is buying a home while going to university a smart idea? Pexels, CC0 photo.

This is something you’re most likely going to have to discuss with your parents. If you have enough money collectively, you might think about putting down a deposit and buying a place to live for college. Particularly, if you know, you are going to be there for four or five years. It might seem like a practical move and perhaps even a relatively good investment. Rather than pay rent, you can pay a mortgage. The problem is that a house often takes more than four or five years to pay off, even with four or more people paying into mortgage repayments. It also puts a lot of financial pressure on you at a time when people already often struggle with debt. If you can, avoid this option completely. The last thing you want is to be tied down to a location where you can’t get a job once you finish college because you bought a home.

Hopefully this helps you settle into college, finding the best place for you to live.


  1. Amazing tips, although I personally don’t think buying a house is a good option because there’s a very fair chance one will have to move for job but it’s just a personal opinion. As always, loved your post ❤

    • Hi Bhavya! The post actually doesn’t recommend the home buying activity; it’s an option available, which is why it’s included here, but it ties down the student’s money and can become a burden on top of school costs. Thanks for being here <3

  2. Great article, Christy. I have another suggestion to add.

    ASK current TENANTS directly – don’t rely on internet posts (or letters on a management wall) for housing reviews – especially if the landlords own a number of rental properties in college areas.

    My college area appt. is pricey because it is big enough for 4 students to share. The landlords get tons of GREAT reviews because they do a regular “win a free month’s rent by posting a review on FaceBook” contest – each student responds to increase their chances of winning.

    And yet, asking around in person, you’ll discover that there is a high turnover (and not just because students graduate) Be suspicious, ASK how long tenants typically stay and why they leave *before* you are locked into a lease.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    • Hi Madelyn, you opened my eyes to the “deal” of a free month of rent in return for a positive review on social media. I thank you for the additional info here! Asking someone directly would absolutely be more reliable then!

      • I’m sure other landlords have other ways to skew reviews and feedback as well. After all, who wants to rankle the person who owns the roof over your head? I even worry that they will consider me “a complainer” when I tell them about even important maintenance issues (repeatedly, btw).

        My LL doesn’t insist on “positive” reviews, btw – but the point above still stands. Not surprising that there are no negative reviews on their page!

        I tweak the old adage a bit: “If you can’t say something TRUTHFUL, don’t say anything at all!”

  3. Accomodation is such a tricky matter. My daughters year 1 wasn’t great, she ended up in a flat which wasn’t very homely, Year 2 was better but year three they were ripped off by the landlady who took a whopping amount off for supposed damages, messiness, uncleanliness. It was ridiculous the only thing that had been neglected was the garden (and that they were happy to pay for.) My husband had even helped clean the place up so we were incredulous. The landlady complained about dust in the drawers of cupboards! So talk to previous tenants before you secure accommodation. In this case the girls had left their accommodation choice late so were limited in choice and we had little time to argue with the landlady as Tasha was going to South Korea so reluctantly the girls split the amount and we washed our hands off the whole sorry episode!

    • Oh MJ! Your daughter has certainly had to grow up fast in the area of accommodations. I hope she won’t let that dampen her spirits when she seeks future residences. I recently read an article that said get rid of the bad apples and don’t let them spoil the good apples.. Let’s keep thinking that way. Big hugs ~ It’s Friday <3

    • I was lucky with my college roommates. One of them always cleaned up after himself so well I never would have known he puked in my trash can if he hadn’t told me. The other was very studious. The third partied a lot, but it was only a problem once when he called me at 2 am to bail him out of jail… which is a whole other story.

  4. When I studied in England, I had two friends who where up happy with their dorm situations. One of them just didn’t like living in a dorm, so moved off campus into an apartment with a married couple also attending the university. The other was Chinese living with a bunch of other Chinese and was sick of how spoiled and annoying the guys were (raised by parents who gave them more cents than sense, I like to say); she moved into a small dorm room. Both were happier, and when I introduced them to each other, it turned out that my Chinese friend had moved into the same room the first friend had just abandoned.

    • How nice that he is enjoying dorm life 🙂 It’s amazing how much learning is done outside of the classroom in addition to inside of it during the college years. Wishing you a great weekend ahead!

  5. When each of my kids started college, they were required by the school to live on campus for their freshmen years. After that, they both choose to move off campus because not only could they get more space and privacy that way, but it was actually much cheaper to pay rent and prepare their own meals than to depend on the over-priced meal plans the college offered.
    My daughter is still in school, and shares a house with four other girls that is only a ten-minute walk from campus, and has its own laundry. She is much happier there than she ever was on campus.

    • That’s interesting, Amy! I’m glad they are happy and it sounds like off-campus housing was perfect for their needs. Thank goodness for choices 🙂 I’m hoping you and your family are doing great! <3

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