By ARIANA BARRETT
After serving my time in residence halls for the obligatory two-year period required for UMW students, I decided to rent a house with some friends. So far, I like it a lot better than I liked living in a dorm. While there are some benefits to living on campus, overall there are a lot more perks to living off-campus.
One of the main reasons I moved off campus is because of the fire drills. Nothing is worse than those middle of the night fire drills, especially when you have class early the next morning. Not only did they wake me up, but while I lived in Eagle Landing they’d have us waiting over half an hour outside while they examined the building. They also run fire drills in any type of weather or temperature. One time my hair was wet and it was so cold that it froze while I was waiting outside.
The rules of the Office of Residence Life was a huge factor in my decision to live off campus. I do not want to be told when to be quiet, what I cannot hang on the walls and what I am not allowed to have in my room.
Employees of Residence Life were constantly knocking on my door telling me that I was doing something wrong but whenever we complained about the inevitable upstairs neighbor who sounded like they were constantly herding cattle, nothing ever changed. I think we used the broom to hit the ceiling more than we used it to sweep. ResLife is without a doubt the number one reason I moved off campus. I went to college to get away from my mom – not to get a new one.
Besides all the factors I just listed, there were problems with the rooming situation as well, such as privacy. First of all, you have a roommate in the same space as you at all times so you have to coordinate schedules when you want to be alone. Second, there were maintenance people constantly knocking on my door. Whenever something needed to fixed or inspected they would give a quick knock then come in if nobody answered, assuming nobody was home. There were several instances where I woke up to a stranger in my room working on something.
Sharing a room with someone means you get half the space for your own stuff. I constantly found myself making shopping runs to buy cheap, plastic drawers to make room for my ever expanding closet because the closets were small and the drawers were limited. Some dorm rooms only have one set of drawers for both roommates to share.
With a small room comes small beds. Not only are the beds small, but they’re uncomfortable and some of the mattress pads that actually make a difference cost more than actual mattresses themselves. Before college, I had not slept in a twin bed since I was in elementary school and when my friends came to visit they had nowhere to sleep. You also have to buy special Twin XL sheets for the beds, which can be difficult to find.
Money also played a large factor in my decision. By living on campus, I was forced to have a meal plan because it is a requirement for residential students. The food here lacks variety, is not healthy and is not very good. Also, the dining hall has limited hours. I got the cheapest meal plan that somebody living on campus could get and it was still over $1,000.
At the end of every semester, I found myself buying food I didn’t even want just so I could feel like I didn’t waste my money. I realized that I was paying more to eat, live and park my car on campus than I was on tuition and I wasn’t even getting everything I wanted.
Just the housing allowance alone is ridiculously expensive. It cost more than my house rent and utilities combined. You don’t even get to live on campus year round. I also paid hundreds of dollars to park on campus and I could only park in one area. Now I can park in my driveway for free.
Although it was nice living in the middle of my community and being up to date with everything that was happening on campus, it still doesn’t top the freedom and opportunity of having your own house gives you. As stressful as it was to set up the utilities for my house, I feel like I am more prepared for the real world. I have to pay my bills on time and I make a conscious effort to conserve energy, which is definitely a good skill to have throughout your whole life.