Your living arrangements in college can have a massive impact on your overall experience. I personally loved living on campus, as I had easy access to the dining halls, and my classes were only a few minutes away. However, as the years went on more and more of my friends started to live off campus. Upperclassmen can live on or off campus, but my friends and I were determined to have our own house senior year.
The search for off-campus housing should ideally start in September/October of the year before you plan on living somewhere. By mid-October my friends and I were touring different places to find the right fit! UMass Amherst has an off-campus website where you can find available listings that you can trust. In addition, my friends and I took advantage of the available house tours by local real estate agents so that we could get a feel of the different options.
I have friends that live in both apartment complexes and houses; choosing between the two is up to personal preference! When touring around, it’s important to know what you’re willing to compromise on and what you absolutely need. Some things to consider include:
- Proximity to a bus stop
- Washer/dryer in the facility
- Is heat and/or hot water included?
- Proximity to campus
- Is snow plowed driveway included?
- Reputation of the landlord
Another piece of advice is to keep an open mind. The house I live in now used to be very rundown and dirty when the previous inhabitants lived there. However, it just took a little cleaning and decorating to make it into a home.
Once you have found your ideal location and have settled in, you’ll find some key differences between living on and off-campus. For me, the biggest adjustment was having to use the bus. I used to be terrified of the PVTA bus system because I didn’t know how to use it. However, after a couple days it became second nature. My favorite thing is how frequently the buses come — if you miss one you can just hop on the next!
Another big change for me was learning to cook for myself. While on campus I always had large meal plans so that I could eat in the dining commons. However, now I have a much smaller plan (consisting mostly of dining dollars), and I go grocery shopping for myself. This shift has made me feel more independent and ready for life after college.
Living off campus is a great way to experience UMass in a different way. With so many different housing options to choose from, you are sure to find something that will fit your style.