As with most four-year universities, first years are highly encouraged, even required at some universities, to reside in on-campus residential halls. While its purpose may be to ease students’ adjustment to the campus and its culture, dorms’ amenities often fall short of its monetary cost. From the communal bathrooms to the mediocre meal plan to being confined to a cramped living space with another human being, let alone two in my case, within a proverbial hotel full of also eager, socially anxious, and immature seventeen to eighteen-year-olds, who could blame you for wanting to move out the following year? So you’re planning to leave the dorms, but where should you move to, how much are you willing to pay for rent, and with whom and how many should you decide to live with? Well, here are my thoughts on what I felt attributed to the success of my first semester of living off-campus.
Established Friend Groups
There has always been this notion that deciding to move-in with your closest friends will, in time, only pull you all further apart from each other. While there have been a number of cases where this has definitely been the case, there have also been a number of cases, mine included, that debunk this idea. With this, I wondered. Why have my housemates and I made it this far? A whole semester had gone by, some of us together even the summer before this past semester, yet we were not constantly at each other’s throats? Then I figured. Yes, we were all good friends, but we did not necessarily know a lot about each other. We did not have the slightest clue on how living with each other would play out, just that we probably would not end up hating each other.
A friendship initially developed out of a shared organization, built on somewhat of a “mutual weirdness.” I guess you could say that we each have a sort of random sense of humor that complements each other’s. That’s probably also the reason why we can never productively study as a group… In addition to this mutual oddness, the diversity of majors, interests, and overall personalities of this household is an essential balance. There is always something to talk about and the different contributing perspectives make it that much more interesting. Also, the variety in our schedules make it so that we aren’t with each other 24/7 and aren’t suffocated by each other’s presence. So if you decide to live with your friends, which many, including myself, prefer over complete strangers, I would suggest that you keep an open mind, avoid smothering each other, and do not hesitate to see how the group dynamic is before committing.
So you’ve got your group. Your posse. What now? Well, now you need to figure out the logistics of your housing plans. This would include what the agreeable distance from campus, rooming arrangements, and financial budget are. Once you’ve established these, and the earlier you do so, the easier it’ll be to find a location to accommodate all, if not most, of your group’s criteria. Keep in mind that the larger the group, the more likely it will be that some will need to double, maybe even triple up, to stay together.
Housemates? Check. Housing? Check. One last thing, then. Not everything is going to go exactly the way you want them to and that’s totally fine. We’re human, stubborn creatures of habit. Throw college students into the mix and you’re sure to not get anything done…at least, not immediately. Let’s be real here. That chore system you were hoping to implement? Yeah, you should probably just throw that out. The trash will get taken out. The floors will be vacuumed/wiped. The bathrooms will get clean. In due time, my friend. In due time. Group outings? We’re all college kids. Everyone’s schedule is hectic when it comes to planning a group function, even if it’s something as simple as a food outing.