After sophomore year, RISD students are permitted to live off campus if they desire. We encourage students to discuss and weigh the pros and cons of living on/off campus with their friends and families. For many students living on campus is ideal in location and convenience, but for others off campus housing may better suit their lifestyle needs. Each year we see students who regret their decision to move off campus and vice versa. To help ensure you make the best informed decision for you, following are some resources for students and parents regarding on and off campus housing.
Potential benefits to living off-campus
- Cost: For many students cost is a big deciding factor in deciding to move off campus. Rental rates are typically cheaper the further you are from campus. Doing your own cooking can also help reduce monthly expenses.
- Independence: Living off campus changes your social atmosphere from the typical ‘college setting’ to one of greater autonomy and independence.
- Responsibility: Living off campus requires you to adapt a high level of personal and financial responsibility. Most off campus leases do not include all utilities (water, heat, electricity, cable/wifi, trash etc.). Students are therefore responsible for contracting these services and for paying them all on time monthly – on top of their rent itself.
- Year-round housing: Most land lords prefer a year round lease instead of an academic year lease. Students that may want to stay around campus for the summer for an internship, classes, or a job can do so easily. With on campus housing, depending on location, students may need to pay extra and move for the summer months.
Benefits of living on-campus
- Cost: Although monthly rent for off campus apartment can seem significantly lower than on campus housing, students should carefully weigh in their utility costs. Be sure to find out the heating costs from past years. You don’t want to be surprised to find that during the winter months your oil bill is higher than your rent. Living on-campus means no hidden fees, no matter the temperature outside. Furniture is also not included in most off campus housing, so you may need to lay out money to invest in some. And with most RISD student schedules, cooking a balanced meal may at home not always be realistic, so you may end up spending more on take-out. Transportation to and from campus is another thing to consider, especially for more distant rentals.
- Room Changes: Too often students decide to live with their best friend or significant other. This usually comes about as a well-intentioned and exciting concept – who wouldn’t want to live with their BFF or the love of their life [for the moment]. In reality, this can and does often go poorly. Where breaking an off campus lease may require a lawyer and a drawn out battle with your landlord, on campus housing can accommodate a room change if your roommate situation requires it.
- Campus Connections: Oftentimes students feel isolated if they are not connected with their peers and on campus activities. Residence Halls and Houses provide residents with various opportunities to meet new friends. Resident Advisors are a great resource to help navigate campus life and better connect residents to campus resources
- Work orders: Depending on your lease, getting something fixed may prove difficult. With the RISD Facilities team on campus and available 24/7 for emergencies, you know that any problem you face can be addressed in a reasonable time. And for major problems like a frozen pipe or structural damage we are able to relocate students without any added costs.
- Security: On campus housing allows students’ access to Residence Halls with their ID card or keys. Locks are changed or deactivated immediately if the student has lost their key(s). Public Safety is on call and does rounds 24/7 to ensure all halls are safe and secure. Cameras add more security and Residence Life staff is always on call to assist students with challenging situations.
If you think that living off-campus might be in your future, we suggest that you do the following:
- Read ‘Before your Search‘ and ‘Searching Tips‘ page
- Be mindful of things you will need during your search
- Get help with looking at your lease to make sure its okay
- Remember to look into and get property insurance