How prepared are you for living on your own?

The top floor of the Square on Fifth, the off-campus student housing in Midtown that plans on coming to the Georgia State University campus in Aug. 2019. Photo by Vanessa Johnson | The Signal

One of the perks of attending college is the opportunity to live on campus. With the campus just a few blocks away, you can roll right out of bed and make it to class in five minutes. There’s no need to commute, so fighting for a parking space in one of our campus lots isn’t an issue. Best of all, the food. Right in the heart of Downtown, Georgia State students have a plethora of options when it comes to food. Georgia State offers three PantherDining locations: Patton Hall, Piedmont Central and Piedmont North. But, when you have pretty much everything at your fingertips for four years or more, when it’s time to live off campus, are you really prepared for everything that comes with living on your own?

Let’s find out.

RENT. With housing, room and board is already covered. Inexpensive housing options come up to $6,058 per semester; a meal plan is not included in this option. Once students move off campus for the first time, one of the first things they must worry about is paying their monthly rent. How much can you afford to pay every month? Will you split your rent with friends or a significant other? This usually determines the distance between you and the campus. Location. Location. Location. Georgia State is located in an urban landscape, making the surrounding apartments far more expensive than an apartment outside the perimeter. No more housing directors or resident assistants to talk to when you have an issue with your room. Landlords won’t be wearing a blue Georgia State blazer or greet you with a smile.

UTILITIES. Rent typically doesn’t include utilities. With housing, most of these amenities are included in the semesterly fee—you pay it once in August or January and forget about it. ut when renting off campus, things get a little more tricky. Every month, bills will land at your doorstep whether you can pay them or not— internet, heat and air conditioning, electricity and water, just to name a few. Oh, and don’t forget that security deposit. A security deposit acts as insurance against the unpredictable; your landlord will ask this of every new resident in an addition to advance rent payments. On the bright side, security deposits are refundable! Do keep in mind all these new utilities will be in your name; now credit might become an issue.

COMMUTING. Because Georgia State is located downtown, apartments close by are going to cost a pretty penny. Unless you group up with a few friends and agree to each pay part of the rent and utilities, chances are you’re going to have to commute in some way to get on campus. That equals additional time to get ready in the morning or afternoon in order to make it to class on time. No more rolling out of bed ten minutes before and walking into class just in time for the attendance roll. Chances are if you commute to campus, you either need gas money or a MARTA pass to travel quickly. If you’re driving to campus, you’re also going to need somewhere to park your car. A parking permit at Georgia State is $215 per semester in M Deck and the University Lofts deck.

FOOD. Housing offers three dining options: Patton Hall, Piedmont Central and Piedmont North. Piedmont Central offers such delights as an international station, salad station, a smoothie station and even a brick oven pizza station—ll buffet style. Sounds pretty sweet, if you can afford a meal plan or a small one-time fee of $8 – $10 to walk in and dine at your pleasure. Trips to your local supermarket will turn into a learning experience all on its own. Meal preparation is a popular option for college students. Cooking in bulk and sorting portions of meat, veggies and snacks that can save you more in the long run than eating Chick-fil-A three times a day. But if neither of those options work for you, ramen is still the go-to meal for college students.

SAFETY. One of the biggest issues living off or on campus is safety. Two weeks ago, a Campus Broadcast was sent out in regards to asexual battery on Piedmont Avenue. Did the student live on campus or commute? In any living environment comes a certain risk associated with living there. Some have a higher risk than others.

RESPONSIBILITY. Students need to have a certain amount of responsibility when venturing off campus and living on their own. Paying rent, utility bills, commuting to and from campus, cooking, all while maintaining a good academic standing is very difficult. Students are also responsible for keeping their living space on campus clean and livable. It’s more than just making your bed in the morning or learning not to mix darks and whites in the washing machine. In an apartment, expect to do everything on your own!

SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT. Everyone loves being social in college—whether it’s clubs, organizations, parties, joining a fraternity, it’s all part of connecting with other students on campus who share similar interests. But most activities at Georgia State happen in the evening. If you live on campus that’s not an issue just swing by your dorm after class, take a nap, shower and change and you’re ready for the night’s festivities and when it’s over, you’re just a few minutes away from home. However, if you live off campus, you might have to plan out your social activities more carefully. Sure, that club meeting starts at 5 p.m. but what time does it end? 6 p.m.? 7 p.m.? Now it’s late and you have to head to your apartment. Will there be traffic or do you take MARTA? Will you have time to study, to complete any assignments that might be due?

There is nothing inherently wrong with student housing—it’s a booming market, in fact very soon Georgia State students will have a new swanky option for on-campus living. Located on the corner of Piedmont Avenue and John Wesley Dobbs Avenue, “The Mix” seeks to offer 26 stories of relatively high-brow living in the heart of Georgia State’s downtown campus. The 8,200 square foot project costs $90 million and should be ready by August 2019, just in time for fall and a horde of new freshmen eager for the full college experience.

Every college student should have the privilege of living on campus at least once to soak up as much of the college experience as possible but living in a dorm is nowhere close to what it’s like living in the real world. There are bills, you have to work, pay rent and learn to manage your free time as well as your money just to make ends meet, even if it’s for a little while before you get the hang of things. Before long, you’ll be Adulting just like the rest of the world.