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What to know about living off campus: Rachel Gifeisman ’19

With housing numbers recently released, many students may be considering living off-campus next year. Rachel Gifeisman ’19 has been living off campus for a full year in a house on South Street about a block away from campus with four other members of the debate team, Brandeis Academic Debate and Speech Society.

Gifeisman found the space through students on the debate team, which she is a part of, since members of the team have occupied that house for a few years, and “we just replace the people [who live there] year by year.” While some of the people she lives with have a car, Gifeisman does not and often walks to campus. She also has a job on campus in a lab and babysits off campus occasionally.

Some of her reasoning for living off campus include that it’s “a lot cheaper,” and you don’t always have a roommate like you would in dorms, which Gifeisman said felt like “rat cages.” She said she liked that you can control your space a lot more effectively, and choose exactly who you want to live with without the fear of having someone thrown into your living arrangements with you unexpectedly.

More pros include that for her, studying and doing work is easier off-campus as opposed to in a dorm room, because she feels more at home. Gifeisman enjoys being able to have a TV and cook in a real kitchen. “There are no boundaries,” within reasonable limits, as opposed to in a dorm where the Community Advisor or Area Coordinator are on watch, and it’s also “easier to kick people out of the house!”

Some negative aspects of living off campus for Gifeisman are that she doesn’t have free laundry in her building. She also pointed out that South Street last year faced some problems with safety, so that is something to take into consideration.

However, living off campus does feel more independent than a dorm, and it prepares you in a personal sense for living like an adult. Gifeisman said she learned a better sense of scheduling, because you have to drive yourself to do work on time, and plan shopping trips to the grocery store.

Gifeisman’s advice to those hoping to live off-campus next year is that almost “anything you find off-campus will be cheaper [than living on campus],” but don’t disregard easy-to-ignore living costs like groceries and Internet. She also said to be careful about landlords and do research on the living space, since many “cycle through college students.” Also, distance shouldn’t always be sacrificed for price, because the further away you live, you might be less likely to attend all of your classes, as Gifeisman said based on the experience of someone she knows who lives close to Hannaford. Lastly, try to find a house with free laundry.

Living off campus isn’t for everyone, but for some, it is a great opportunity to experience living independently with more responsibilities than you would experience living on campus in a dorm. If that interests you, try to get in contact with a landlord or a friend currently living off campus soon.

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