If you are in college and considering living in student apartments in West Columbia, SC next semester here are some things to think about. Where you are going to live is one of the most important things you'll have to decide. While staying on campus has certain advantages, getting your own apartment may be the better choice. When you're trying to choose between apartment living and dorm life, weighing the pros and cons can help you make an educated decision.
Privacy can be hard to come by when you live in a dorm, especially when you're sharing a relatively small space with one or more roommates. If you're used to having a room all to yourself, living in the dorm can be a big adjustment. One of the biggest advantages of getting an apartment is that you don't have to worry about sacrificing your privacy. It's also easier to concentrate on your studies when you don't have people constantly going in and out. Even if you decide to have a roommate, you'll be sharing a larger space and you'll each have your own bedroom.
Living in the dorm means you're subject to the dorm rules. Typically, these include restrictions on things like how late you can have visitors and whether you can have visitors of the opposite sex. You may also be subject to periodic room inspections or be required to attend regular meetings with your Resident Advisor. When you live in an apartment, you have to abide by the lease agreement, but there are generally no restrictions on when you can have visitors. You'll still have to keep the noise down so you don't bother your neighbors, but you won't have to worry about the landlord showing up for a surprise inspection.
Room and board includes all the costs associated with living in the dorms, including your food, utilities, access to laundry services and other amenities. Depending on the school you attend and what the housing market is like in the area, renting an apartment can actually be cheaper than living in the dorms. You'll have to pay for your own groceries and extras such as cable TV or Internet access, but you could end up saving money in the long run. You can save even more when you use money in a 529 savings plan to pay for your off-campus housing costs.
While living in an apartment does have some advantages, there are some potential downsides to consider. If you don't live within walking distance of the campus, you may not save money if you have to pay for transportation costs. Safety may also be an issue; dorms are typically equipped with security systems and require a special ID card to gain access. This may not be the case with an apartment complex. You also need to consider the social aspect. Living in the dorm may offer more opportunities to meet new people and interact with your peers.