Living on campus vs. off campus in the US

Campus life makes the US university experience all the more memorable.

You’ll learn so much inside the classroom, but the memories you make outside the classroom will last a lifetime!

Rakin, from Bangladesh completed an Undergraduate Pathway in Business, and graduated with a BS in Marketing from the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa, Florida.  

He gives us the lowdown on living on and off campus.

I’ve enjoyed my time here in the Sunshine State.

As an international student who has lived on and off campus, I’m excited to share my experience to help you make the right choice for you!

Living on campus – what I loved!

It’s easy living

When I lived on campus, during my first year at USF, I was only a short walk away from the library, dining halls, gym and classrooms – you’ll appreciate this when you have 8am classes!

Rakin (right) with #INTOfriends.

My room had Wi-Fi, the bathroom and common areas were cleaned often, and all the furniture was included.

If you live on campus, you’ll have the option to take advantage of the excellent university meal plans too. I enjoyed this option, as I didn’t have to worry about cooking, buying groceries or doing the dishes – thanks dining services!

In the heart of the action

When you’re living right in the center of campus, you’ll feel part of the community and more likely to go to events happening around you. Learn more about campus life at USF here.

This is especially helpful when making new friends and you may even land a job on campus.

Meeting people outside of your classes

Living in a dorm gives you the opportunity to meet lots of new people. I’ve made some great friends.

Living on campus – what I overcame

Space and privacy

You’ll most likely be sharing your room with at least one other person. It can sometimes be an issue when you want alone time.


There are rules that you have to follow when living on campus. These ensure there’s always a pleasant environment.

Overall, the University strongly encourages first-year international students to live on campus because it helps with the transition into American college life.

Study in Florida, USF

Living off campus – what I loved

Space and privacy

When you live off campus, you’ll have more space and most likely you won’t have to share a room with another person. Also, apartments are usually much quieter than dorms.

It can be cheaper

Depending on the school and the location, off campus housing may be cheaper than living on-campus.

However, when comparing prices, it is important to take into account that off campus housing pricing usually doesn’t include utilities. You’ll also have to think about  food, transportation and cable/internet costs.

Independence and responsibilities

You’ll have the opportunity to live independently; where you can learn how to cook, clean and pay your own bills.

Living off campus – what I overcame

Longer commute

Depending on where you live, it might take you longer to travel to university.

In my experience, this was the biggest challenge I had to overcome because I didn’t have a car and had to rely on the University bus or my own bicycle to get to my classes on time.

You may not live in a student area

Living off campus means you may not be surrounded by students, or living next to the University.

It’s your choice!

When it comes to choosing on or off campus housing, it really depends on your personal preferences.

Looking back, I’m really happy that I lived on campus for some time as I was able to make lifelong friends.

It was also a great way to avoid loneliness being so far away from home, especially being a bit of a shy freshman! There was always someone around, to study with or just talk to.

I did enjoy living off-campus later on because I was able to save money, become more independent, cook for myself and manage my time better.

I’m happy I experienced both and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

campus life in the US

You may also like to read Uraz’s story about adapting to US culture. Or, if you’re about to begin your study abroad adventure, you may like this handy packing checklist!

To find out more about studying in the US, head over to our website.

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