Living off campus means you have to budget for travel, either money for gas or time to get the bus. Fortunately, each student at Edgewood College gets a free metro bus pass each semester. But in my opinion the travel is worth it for the experience of being on your own. Whether you live by yourself or split a place with friends, living off campus makes you more independent. Instead of having a meal plan, you have to get groceries and cook. It’s also a learning experience to balance the rent, energy and cable bills. If you start looking for a place early enough, though, you will have no problem finding a good deal or a place with some utilities included.
Mostly I enjoy the freedom of being a commuter student. I still have friends who live on campus, but I get to meet more people in my neighborhood. I also find that students who live off campus get to know the city and directions to places faster than students who live in the residence halls.
The city of Madison has a lot of different aspects to explore. I’ve lived in three different areas so far, and it’s exciting to find out what’s going on in the new neighborhood; where to find food, where the music’s at, or where the nearest park is. Having your own place can give you the benefits of having both a quiet place to study and do homework without being disturbed, and also a place to be free from noise curfews, personal space limitations, and other authoritative bummers.
I think that when one is on their own and must learn how to balance these different things and be successful, it’s much closer to “real life”.