Deciding on Which is Better Between A Dorm or an Apartment

dorm vs apartment

When it comes to deciding where to live during college, one of the biggest decisions students face is whether to opt for a dormitory or an apartment. Both options offer their own set of advantages and disadvantages, making it essential for students to carefully consider which living arrangement best suits their needs and preferences.

How dorms and apartments differ

Dorms, also called dormitories, are like big student houses found right on or near college grounds. They make it super easy for students to get to classes, the library, and places to eat. In dorms, students usually share rooms or live in small groups. They also have common areas where everyone can hang out, study, do laundry, and cook.

On the flip side, apartments offer students more freedom and privacy. They’re like renting your place, either on or off campus. Apartments can be small studios or big enough for several roommates. Unlike dorms, you have to sign a lease, which means agreeing to stay for a certain amount of time, usually a year.

The pros of living in a dorm

  • It’s Super Handy: Dorms are like living right next door to your classes, the library, and all the fun stuff happening on campus. You don’t have to worry about long commutes or getting stuck in traffic. Everything you need is right there, making college life a breeze.
  • Fun Events: Dorms are known for throwing cool events like movie nights, game tournaments, and study sessions. It’s a great way to meet new people, make friends, and have a blast without even leaving your building.
  • Being Part of Campus Life: When you live on campus, you’re right in the middle of all the action. You can easily join clubs, hit the gym, or catch a game whenever you want. Plus, it’s easier to study with friends or get help from classmates when you’re all living in the same place.

The cons of living in a dorm

Living in a dorm has some downsides too:

  • Cramped Space: Dorm rooms can be pretty small, especially when you’re sharing with someone else. It might feel crowded, and you might have to get used to not having much privacy or personal space.
  • Roommate Roulette: Sometimes, you don’t get to choose your roommate. You might end up with someone you get along with great, or it could be a bit of a challenge. Either way, it’s important to communicate and find ways to get along.
  • Rules, Rules, Rules: Dorms usually have rules to keep everyone safe and happy. While this is good for making sure everyone behaves, it can also feel a bit like being watched all the time, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

The pros of living in an apartment

Living in an apartment has its perks:

  • Privacy and Freedom: Apartments give students more independence. They get their own space with bedrooms and living areas, so they can live how they want. This freedom helps them learn to be responsible and take care of themselves.
  • Choice and Flexibility: Renting an apartment lets students pick their roommates and set up their living space how they like. Unlike dorms where roommates are often assigned, apartments give students the chance to choose who they live with and make living arrangements that fit their needs.
  • Explore Off-Campus: Apartments can be located away from the college, giving students the chance to explore different neighborhoods and communities. Living off-campus exposes them to new places and experiences, making their college life more exciting and diverse.
  • Extra Goodies: Many apartment complexes offer cool stuff like gyms, pools, and hangout areas. These perks make living in an apartment more enjoyable and help students feel at home with their neighbors.

The cons of living in an apartment

Living in an apartment comes with some tough parts: 

  • Longer Travel: Students who live in apartments off-campus might have to travel further to get to class. This means they may need a car or take the bus, which can cost more money. Spending more time traveling can also make it harder to juggle school, activities, and personal stuff.
  • Less Campus Fun: Living away from campus could mean missing out on on-campus events and hanging out with friends. Being less involved in campus life might make it harder to make connections and enjoy all the perks of college. It could also make students feel less connected to their school community.
  • Stuck in a Lease: Renting an apartment means signing a lease, which is like a contract for a set amount of time, usually six months to a year. Being tied to a lease can make it tricky to change plans or move if something comes up.

Which costs less?

Many students wonder if living in a dormitory or an apartment is cheaper. Let’s break it down:


  • Dormitory fees are often part of the total college costs, but they can vary from college to college.
  • Some colleges make meal plans mandatory for dorm residents, adding to the overall expenses.
  • While dorms may seem cheaper upfront, remember to consider any extra costs that might come up.


  • Renting an apartment means paying monthly rent, which can change depending on where you live, how big the place is, and what it offers.
  • On top of rent, you might also have to pay for utilities like electricity, water, and internet, which adds to the total cost.
  • Unlike dorms, apartments may not include meal plans or other extras, so you’ll need to budget for those separately.

Which should you choose?

When choosing between a dormitory and an apartment, it’s important to think about what’s best for you. 

Dormitories are great for students who

  • Like being close to campus: Dorms are right there, so it’s easy to get to class and other campus stuff without a long commute.
  • Want to be part of campus life: Living in a dorm means you’re surrounded by other students, making it easy to join clubs, go to events, and meet new people.
  • Enjoy socializing: Dorms have lots of activities and hangout spots, making it easy to make friends and have fun with other students.

But apartments might be better for students who

  • Value privacy and independence: With your own space, you can set things up just how you like and have more control over who you live with.
  • Need flexibility: Apartments usually have fewer rules, so you can make your own decisions about things like guests and noise.
  • Prefer a quiet study spot: Apartments can be calmer than dorms, which can be noisy and busy with lots of people around.

In the end, whether you pick a dorm or an apartment depends on what matters most to you. Think about what you want from your college experience and choose the option that fits you best.

Choose the best living situation for you

Whether it’s better to live in a dorm or an apartment depends on various factors, including cost, location, privacy, and lifestyle preferences. By carefully weighing the pros and cons of each option and considering their own needs and priorities, college students can choose the living situation that offers the most value for their money and enhances their overall college experience.


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