As the new year begins, many juniors find themselves living off-campus for the first time. This living situation can be very different from the well-known on-campus residential experience Macalester students share their first two years.
While living off-campus is not required, many students enjoy the financial advantage that living off-campus provides. Cameron Hill ’19 cited the main reason he decided to live off-campus as the overall cost: “It is cheaper to live off campus and pay rent for our duplex than it would be to live anywhere on campus. Additionally, paying for my own groceries for the semester is also cheaper than being on a meal plan,” wrote Hill.
KP Blake-Leibowitz ’19 shared similar sentiments. “Between the cost of living on versus off campus, the not guaranteed living available on campus, as well as the desire to step out of the Mac bubble and live with my partner, living off campus seemed like the best option,” Blake-Leibowitz said.
“Living off campus provided me with the opportunity to to deal with real world tasks such as paying rent and grocery shopping which I felt would be good experiences to have,” Ellie Galer ’19 wrote. For Galer, living off-campus was an opportunity to start having more food independence, while off-campus living provided a more budget-friendly option with more benefits and freedoms for Hill and Blake-Liebowitz.
Like any change in life, living off-campus comes with its own highs and lows. One of the perks of living of campus is independence: “I love, love, love being able to cook my own food,” wrote Blake-Liebowitz. Galer enjoys the freedom to do as she chooses, especially in regard to eating at Cafe Mac. On a different note, the best part of living off-campus for Hill is the cost, having his own space and knowing who he would be living with before the school year began. However, living off-campus has its downsides. Because of the physical distance between Hill’s house and campus, he wrote, “I have felt more isolated and distant from the social scene at Macalester.” In similar fashion, the commute for Blake-Liebowitz has been a learning curve on their travels to Macalester. Along with making up the distane to Macalester, Blake-Liebowitz is in the process of figuring out time for cleaning, shopping and cooking. Galer shares similar difficulties, “Besides the obvious challenges that come with having to cook for yourself for the first time, coming to campus is just slightly more of a bother than when you literally live on it,” wrote Galer.
Hill, Blake-Liebowitz and Galer had the same piece of advice for people living off-campus next year: start looking early. “I got stuck with scrambling and settling for a place at the last minute, which resulted in unnecessary stress. Starting to look for housing around November and December might be a good plan!” wrote Blake-Liebowitz. The process can be stressful, but it is not the be-all or end-all of stressful events. Galer also suggested, “Know that the more people you have in on the process the more complicated it can be to find a house. If you find a house you like, go after it, because the nicer house can be competitive to get.” Nonetheless, Galer advises not to get your heart set on one house, because of the competitive nature of the process. “It will work out and you’ll find a place to live, it just may require some time and effort. However, there are a lot of other people going through the same struggle trying to find somewhere to live, so use your resources to try to connect with people,” Hill said.
When asked whether they liked living off-campus more than on-campus, Blake-Liebowitz wrote, “Yes yes and yes, absolutely!” Although students must live on campus your first two years at Macalester,” Galer wrote, “I am really happy I’ve been able to experience both.” Hill had a slightly different take on the matter, writing, “Hard to say so far, but I believe it’s a mixed bag. I am happy to be saving money and to have my own space but I do miss being closer to campus sometimes.” Moving off campus is a big step for many students, but with the right resources and knowledge, it can make the ambiguity of the jump a lot less scary.