If you are leaving home for the first time to go to school, you might be trying to decide if living in the school’s residence is for you or if you are going to look for an apartment. There are some significant differences that you should consider before making the choice that is right for you. Here are the main advantages and disadvantages of life in residence vs having an apartment.


Meeting New People

If you are starting university or moving to a new city for school, living in residence is a great way to meet new people that are in your direct environment. All the other people living in your residence go to your school, therefore not only are you likely to meet new people, but you also already have something significant in common. Often, residences will have social events that help you get to know the other people in your building or even the extra curricular that your school has to offer.

Meal Plans

The majority of residences offer an optional meal plan to their tenants. Meal plans are a great perk to living in residence, especially if you are not a master chef yet! A meal plan can provide you with a certain number of daily breakfast, lunch or dinner options provided by the school’s cafeteria or partnering restaurants in the area. A meal plan is usually paid for monthly and can greatly reduce the stress of doing groceries, cooking meals and worrying about when things go bad.


Residences are often on campus or within walking distance of the school they are affiliated with. This means never having to worry about public transportation and potentially eliminating the need for a vehicle. Being close to school is not only convenient for late night studying and early morning classes but can also save costs!


The cost of a room in a university residence is often a lot less than trying to find an apartment on your own or even with a roommate. This is mainly because your living area, kitchen or bathroom facilities may be shared, greatly reducing costs.


If you are from out of town or moving out for the very first time, residence can be a great security blanket to ease this transition and help you get accustomed not only to living on your own but to discovering the city and everything it has to offer. There is no searching for furniture, worrying about food, fluctuating bills or being lonely.



Some universities require that you meet certain criteria in order to qualify for residence. Schools enforce requirements for residence living often when there is high demand and limited space in order to cater to those who will benefit the most from the service. Requirements can include: needing to be a first year student, moving from a location outside of the city or registration for a full year. Every school has different regulations so it is important to inform yourself ahead of time as the application process can sometimes be complex.


If you live in residence, you will automatically have less privacy than if you lived in an apartment, simply because a lot of space in the residence is shared. Some residences have bathrooms included in the individual rooms and others require that you share bathrooms, kitchen space and a common living area. There may also be a reduced number of private living quarters and sometimes one residence unit can have two or more bedrooms in it.


Along with a lack of privacy, there is also very little control over noise in a residence. There are rules and regulations about social hours, however you may not be able to find quite space at home to study. Trying to get a quite night of sleep can be tough especially on weekends or when you share space with an assigned roommate.

Limited Space

Residence bedrooms can often be very small and your only other living space may be shared. If you want to have a bathroom, kitchen and living room all to yourself, even if it isn’t huge, you might be better off looking for an apartment.

Summer Break

Some residences only permit you to live in res during the school year and force you to leave during the summer. If you are looking for a place to live all year round or don’t want to go through the headache of finding and subletting another place to live during the summer, residence can cause a headache.

Off Campus Housing

If you don’t think residence life is for you but are worried about finding an apartment or roommate, check out your university website for off campus housing services. Many universities have programs to help their students find housing outside of residence programs and some even have tools to help you find a roommate who is going to the same school as you.