I’m planning on living off campus next year. I’ve spent the last few weeks house-hunting and the few months preceding that, procrastinating on doing the same thing. Why, you may ask, am I doing so when there are a number of perfectly good options for juniors and seniors on campus? Well, to put it lightly, RPI’s on-campus housing options are fairly expensive for what they get you, especially if, like me, you want to live with four or more other friends, and despite their higher piece of mind, they lack the steadiness of “owning” a property.
The main reason I’m planning on living off campus next year is the financial one. In terms of cost, RPI is at least $7000/year per student for a single, and usually more, up to nearly $9000/year. Add to that the fact that a number of residence halls restrict access during winter break and summer break—which equals about four months in total—rent on the RPI campus ends up being at least $875 per month. Even including utilities, this is far more than most properties around campus charge—the highest I saw was around $600, but nearly all houses are lower than that.
The search for new housing can be a tedious yet rewarding process. RPI has recently partnered with Jump Off Campus, where you can view a number of listings that landlords create. Their site is by no means a comprehensive list, of course, but it does have a number of listings and can be sorted by a few criteria, such as number of beds and cost. Once you talk to a landlord and express interest, it’s a good idea for everyone to see the house and go over a copy of the lease. RPI provides legal services too, if you think having someone more trained in so-called “legalese” to go over the document is a good idea. After you sign it and pay the deposit, you can get ready to move in once the previous lease has expired, and start living off campus!
Of course, there are a few “dangers” to living off campus, as well. There aren’t the constant security patrols or blue light boxes nearby. While most parts of Troy are generally fairly safe, there have been cases of break-ins and the like during vacations, and sometimes, there are even more bizarre cases that occur, such as finding a dead body in your basement. These occurrences, though, are few and far between, and most can be prevented through simple measures, like locking doors and windows, hiding valuables, and keeping an eye out for suspicious activity.
Despite the possible caveats, living off campus is a no-brainer for me—between the kitchen, the lawn, free parking, and the increased independence (Foreman grills and toasters, here I come!), the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Whether or not you want to live off campus is up to you, but I urge you to take a look—you might be surprised at what you find.