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The pros and cons of living off campus

Housing selection at Brandeis can be a stressful time, especially for upperclassmen as the lottery seems to be less friendly and housing is not guaranteed. Worrying about housing while also trying to deal with midterms, finding summer internships and everything else going on in the world can definitely not be the most fun. However, I recently found an off-campus housing option that I am surprised more students don’t take advantage of that might help relieve some of that stress. 

Earlier this week, I moved into the Charles River apartments with two friends, as their previous roommate needed to go home and sublet their room for the rest of the semester. I thought it would be a fun experience, so I said why not (I previously lived at home and commuted to campus, but I live not too far from campus so the move wasn’t very hard). Although extremely close in proximity to Brandeis, the Charles River apartments are different from the Charles River housing offered by Brandeis and are actually an off-campus housing option. I do not know much about the Charles River housing offered by Brandeis, so I can not make much of a comparison between the two, but I do know that if I get a really bad housing lottery number this week I have another option I would definitely look into. So I thought I would get into the pros and cons of living at the Charles River apartments versus my time living on campus. Just as a disclaimer, I have not lived on campus during the pandemic, so I am sure things have changed, but I will be speaking about my experiences living on campus last year and the year before.

Starting with living off campus at the Charles River apartments, the rooms themselves are very large. The apartment that I am living in is made up of two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room and a bathroom. Each bedroom contains two sets of windows, a desk and a closet. The room itself is larger than a Skyline double, the housing I lived in my sophomore year. 

The kitchen area has all the necessities of an oven, stove, refrigerator and sink and is also relatively large. The bathroom is just a standard bathroom, with a toilet, sink, mirror and bathtub/shower. The largest room in the house is the living room, which is roughly 1.5 times the size of the Ziv common room. Therefore, I would say that the biggest advantages to living in these apartments is the overall size of the place (much bigger than any housing on campus), the price, and the kitchen and bathroom which allows you to make your own food (not dining hall food) and you get to use a non-communal bathroom. 

When on campus, my first year I lived in Scheffres (North) and my sophomore year I lived in the Skyline, so both years I was pretty lucky. The biggest advantage I would say to living on campus is just the location and how close it is to everything (classes, C-Store, dining halls, Gosman). During COVID-19, I assume this was less important, however it looks like things are going in the right direction so hopefully that will matter next year. 

Additionally, for people that are really busy so they don’t have much time or just don’t know how to cook, the accessibility of pre-made food either through the dining hall or any of the other locations on campus is really convenient. Lastly, the experience of just living with your friends and other students your age is probably something that you won’t experience past college, so for people who really enjoy that likely see the lack of that aspect when living off campus as a big con. 

Therefore, what’s the ultimate decision: should you live on or off campus? Either one! The goal of writing this is to show you that either option has its pros. The most important deciding factor right now is to just see what number you get. If you get a good housing number and you favor the pros of living on campus, live on campus! If you get a good housing number but you want to live off campus, live off campus! And if you are nervous about getting a bad housing number, I hope this has shown that living off campus is not so bad, and there are plenty of reasons that you could enjoy it!

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