NYU Lipton Hall entrance.

A Deep Dive into the Pros and Cons of Living On Campus or Off Campus

During the summer, most NYU students must consider if living on campus or off campus is their next step. Well, luckily, I have done both! So I have insight into what it’s like tapping into a residence hall and scrambling on StreetEasy to find an apartment.

My On-Campus Living Experience

In my first year, I chose to live on campus in Lipton Hall. When I arrived at NYU, I was alone and scared. I was so nervous to make new friends because I had created strong friendships in South Africa. However, my experience living on campus opened me up to meeting new people. I had the best roommates who became my best friends. We spent our first night away from home helping one another unpack boxes and decorating. We spent the summer constantly texting!

Making friends is an immediate advantage of living on campus. It guarantees you’ll meet different people and cultures. NYU strives for diversity and inclusivity, so random room assignments factor in pairing people from different zip codes or even countries. My friends across the hall were fascinated by my South African culture. And I was curious about life in the United States. The First Year Residential Experience ensures you meet people living in the building through fun activities. Residential assistants host pizza night and pumpkin carving events, which is how I formed most of my friendships. I have fond memories of living on campus because I was surrounded by people who were as nervous yet ecstatic as I was. This made me feel safe.

Yes, There Are Safety Benefits!
Living on-campus means living in a 24/7-monitored and -secured building. NYU’s Campus Safety prioritizes the safety of students. That means all guests are required to sign in before accessing the residential halls. The Campus Safety officers are stationed by the entrances of the residence halls, which eased my mind about living in a city across the world. The officers get to know you too, which makes coming “home,” feel pretty good after a long day of learning. We shared smiles and laughter, and they helped me when I accidentally locked myself out of my room. 

Living on campus means being close to classes and various resources. I got to sleep for an extra 10 minutes because my theatre class was a five-minute walk from Lipton Hall. It also has a dining hall right in the building, which was a blessing during the cold days in the fall semester.

The Liption Hall entryway.
Lipton Hall
A dining hall staff member smiles while holding up a pancake.
Lipton Hall dining staff making pancakes.
Living Off Campus

All in all, I had a great experience living on campus. But I knew it was time for me to be more independent. I went to a boarding school in high school, so I was used to having roommates, dining halls, and people looking out for me. This played a major role in my feeling comfortable living on campus, but I wanted a new experience. Therefore, I decided to apartment hunt. My friend, who lived across from me in Lipton Hall, decided to embark on this stressful process with me. After touring multiple listings in a fly-off market, I learned that NYU provides lists of apartment search links to help students in their search. 

This helped me choose the right apartment. Finding a sense of independence is one of the advantages of living off campus as I go grocery shopping and host pasta nights for my friends. I have found a love for cooking. It functions as a stress reliever for me at the end of the day, and it’s exciting to come up with new recipes. I can unwind and be by myself, which isn’t a bad thing. Most people confuse solitude with loneliness, but I think learning to enjoy your own company is vital. 

The Benefits of Living Off Campus
When I signed the lease for my apartment, I pulled up my Pinterest board for decoration inspiration. I ordered, curated, and even created furniture, which was a fun adventure for me. Then, I explored all parts of the city to find the best deals for things. Living off campus pushed me to discover all of New York City’s unique neighborhoods.

New York City skyscrapers.
New York City skyscrapers.
Now onto the Issues of Both Living Situations

The main issue of living on campus or off campus boils down to the cost of living. Living in New York City is expensive, and it can become a financial burden for some people. The residential halls put in the effort to accommodate various students’ financial needs, but some students may opt for off-campus living for budgetary reasons. Alternatively, choosing to live off campus could easily become more expensive depending on the area, apartment size, and number of roommates.

Residential Life Advice

My best advice is to be realistic and research! By being realistic, I realized that some apartments didn’t match my current financial situation and that was OK. I remembered that I was a student who was just looking for a nice place to live with my friend, so I chose an apartment that matched my finances and needs. I recommend writing down your needs regarding how far you want to live from campus, finding a roommate, and determining if you’re ready to spread your wings. You would be surprised to know what you’re capable of doing if you listen to your instincts. I have done both, and I don’t regret it. Hopefully, I helped you to make a decision that encourages your growth as a person, student, and adventurist.

Tino Ngorima is a junior in Tisch School of the Arts studying drama with minors in producing and business of entertainment, media & technology. As an international student from South Africa, she enjoys working in diverse communities that embrace various cultures. Aside from acting, Tino has been a dancer since a young age and admires learning any new art form. She in an e-board member in WEST (Womxn of Excellence, Strength and Tenacity), a member in STEBA (Stern & Tisch Entertainment Business Association) as well as the Black Student Union know as BSU. Tino spends her free time finding pop up stores in Soho or waiting for upcoming Oscar nomination lists.