Finding Your Home Away From Home

By Concordia University Modified on May 17, 2019

The pros and cons of on-campus and off-campus housing

So you’re headed to university this fall — congratulations!

Finding and securing housing should be one of the main priorities on your list as you prepare for your first year. Students arriving from out of town generally have two options: 1) living in a campus residence or 2) living off-campus.

Find out about the pros and cons of each option.

Living in a residence or dorm

Whether you’re living away from home for the first time or want a stress-free living arrangement for your first year in university, staying in a room in residence comes with many benefits:

  1. 1. The basics are covered

  2. When you live in residence, a lot of the things that require advance planning — i.e.: utility bills, furnishing, storage and grocery shopping –are taken care of.

    For instance, Concordia residence rooms are furnished with the basic necessities including a bed, dresser and desk. The added bonus of the residence meal plan eliminates the hassle of budgeting and planning for groceries and cooking.

  3. 2. It’s safe and conveniently located

  4. Residence buildings are secure facilities, usually with 24-hour security.

    Because most residence buildings are located within walking distance of campus buildings, commuting may not be a concern, particularly if your campus is in the downtown core, like Concordia University is. An added advantage to this is that restaurants, shops and pharmacies are readily accessible.

  5. 3. It gives you an occasion to be social

  6. Living in residence gives you opportunities to meet and hang out with other students. Concordia’s Resident Assistants host year-round activities to let you explore the city, such as tobogganing on Mount Royal, an art crawl through the city, video game tournaments, coffee houses, jam nights and more!

    Living off-campus

    Many students, new and returning, opt for the freedom and added flexibility of renting a room or an apartment on their own for the following reasons:

  7. 1. Independence and flexibility

  8. When you rent an apartment, caring for it is your responsibility for the duration of your stay. You (and your roommates) can establish your own rules, such as a cleaning schedule and agreement for visitors.

    Added bonuses of living in your own place: you can keep a pet (with permission from your landlord), decorate your space to your own liking and cook your own meals.

  9. 2. Affordable and budget-friendly

  10. Depending on your budget, renting a room or apartment can be the more cost-effective option. But before starting your search, it’s a good idea to compare your rent budget with the city’s monthly average so you know what to expect.
    Rent in Montreal, for instance, is relatively affordable compared to other major cities in Canada such as Toronto and Vancouver. Splitting the rent with one or multiple roommates is a common housing situation for Montreal students — and can save you money.

    Also, don’t forget to calculate utilities into your monthly expenses. Many apartments don’t include hot water, electricity and internet in their rent, and the cost of heating peaks during winter months in Canada. Setting aside a small budget for laundry is also necessary if your apartment isn’t equipped with a washer and dryer.

  11. 3. Your own space and added privacy

  12. An apartment offers more space and privacy than a dorm room in a residence, where common areas like a kitchen and dining space are shared by many other people.

  13. 4. Useful resources for renting

    • Find out if your university offers resources for students searching for off-campus housing. For instance, Concordia University’s Off-campus Housing and Job Resource Centre (HOJO) is committed to helping students navigate Montreal’s rental market. Another HOJO-based resource,, provides in-depth information on popular neighbourhoods, tips and tricks for newcomers and legal advice on how to deal with landlords.
    • Websites with classified ads are updated on a regular basis with new apartment listings.
    • Join housing-related Facebook groups for your city or neighbourhood of choice.
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