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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Alternatives to DCL

Published: December 7, 2012
Section: Opinions

When housing selection rolls along, a few lucky participants will receive great numbers. These low numbers earn them selection among the best housing on campus, which is generally agreed upon as Ridgewood suites for upperclassmen: there is air conditioning and new modern architecture. Life at Brandeis is good. If your friends are lucky, you will include them and make their lives better for the year as well. A low lottery number, however, may be hard to come by.

Unfortunately, a large number of students receive high lottery numbers. At the very least, high numbers can get you anything but your top choice housing. With extremely high numbers, your search for on-campus housing turns to a search for off-campus housing. People utilize the Facebook housing group to search for openings, post their interest in finding off-campus housing and find people who are also looking for roommates.

A similar sort of housing dilemma occurs if you, like myself, were planning on studying abroad next semester but no longer plan to do so. We are being replaced by Midyears in the Village and have a few on-campus options but are limited because not too many rooms are still available. Those without housing, who no longer wish to live in the dorms, or are not happy with the choices available, have the world of off-campus housing to browse through. There are a plethora of options, ranging from large houses with many rooms to smaller apartments with several occupants, and you can search based on preferences.

Finding off-campus housing is far more time-consuming than the room selection process on campus. Because of the time crunch, I found myself desperately searching for a comfortable place not too far from campus. When looking at off-campus housing, you must consider utilities and commute distance; whether or not the room is furnished; who you’re roommates will be; and the number of rooms/bathrooms are also important considerations. When searching for last minute off-campus housing, you may not know your roommates well, or only have met them briefly. If you have a car, you have to switch to an off-campus parking permit. You may also have to pay additional rent if your landlord only wants to lease for a minimum amount of time but longer than the semester period.

Still there are many benefits to making the move. The cost may be cheaper or similar even though there are many more amenities in the apartment or house. Living on South Street, to where many students move off campus, there are plenty of other students in houses surrounding you. Many parties are also held off campus and so you may end up meeting more people and increasing social activity. You can also invite more people over to your house off campus rather than in a crowded dorm room.

Some of the suites on campus are attractive but having a house is more beneficial: having laundry machines that you only have to share with your housemates, a spacious kitchen (which saves money by avoiding a meal plan) and a parking spot right by the house.

You may also feel more immersed in the Waltham community if you are living off campus. In fact, one is less inclined to explore the surrounding neighborhoods when studying for class and sleeping on campus. Community members live in the neighborhoods as well, adding to a feeling of being more a part of the Waltham community outside of Brandeis.

Living off campus provides more of a taste of living on your own than on-campus housing. While you do have to deal with utilities and other bills, this is how the real world works. It’s a beneficial experience when looking for a place to live after you graduate.

It’s especially appealing when you can find an off-campus gem, a reasonably-priced option with furnishing and other amenities.

The best of both worlds can be achieved if you beat the rush, look in advance and find a place close to campus that has several room openings so you can convince your friends to join you.