We’re birds, slowly flying out of our parent’s nest, and going to college is our first attempt to do so.

Ahhhh … college. For most students, it’s their ultimate opportunity to practice adulthood by living far away from their parents. Most probably, you’ve got an offer from a university far away from your hometown.

At times you feel excited. At times you feel a bit worried. All you want is a successful transition from your high school live-with-parents life to a responsible independent adult ready to conquer college life.

And the first thing that comes to your mind is, “Where do I live?”

This should be thought about way before moving to your new town.

Here are things you should consider when looking for your home as a college student:

1. Cost

First, determine how much you actually can set aside for rent. If you have a relatively low budget for this one, you can opt-in with living with relatives in the town.

On the other side, if you rather not live with relatives, renting a place outside your university might be a cheaper cost. And if you still want to save more, renting a smaller place or sharing the cost with a roommate might be a better option.

Out of all the options, staying in dorms within the campus is by far the most expensive option in terms of renting. However, if you also have plans of staying in that town or city for the long term, other college students opt for buying condominiums or a house of their own.

2. Proximity and commute

If traffic is prone to the area where your chosen university is, then staying in the walking distance might be the best way to avoid tardiness. If that’s the case, rent an on-campus dorm.

Off-campus dorms are good only if traffic is rampant. At most, your place should only be a 15- 30 minutes travel to your university. Unless you have your own car, your home should have enough vehicles or a bus to drive you to school. Facing the responsibilities of school can be challenging and stressful at times. Hence, commute should be the least of your worry.

3. Food

Noticing some of my friends living in dorms, their number one common complaint is that “Food sucks.”  Dorm food was actually sold in the cafeteria. I’ve eaten it and it actually tastes good. However, when it’s being “mass-cooked” for hundreds (maybe thousands) of dormers, the quality of the food has the tendency to suck. Meats are raw and difficult to chew. All the dishes taste the same but just differ in color.

Most likely, dorm food is paid in one lump sum along with the dorm fees. Hence, my friends felt like they were wasting money when they decided to eat out with friends to avoid dorm food for once.

Experiences differ depending on the university. So, make sure to assess your dorm food before deciding to pay for it. If you’re renting out, assess if you’re allowed to bring stoves inside your room. If not, you’re also going to have to pay a lot of money for eating out. All the same when food is not even allowed inside the room.

4. Policies and curfew

Some rooms don’t allow dogs. If you have one, look for a place that allows them. Some places have curfews. If you like staying late at night for projects and studying out, assess places for curfews. Some places don’t allow visitors. If that’s the case, assess if you’d like to bring some friends in your room to study together.

5. Environment optimal for studying

Dorms are the optimum place to stay in if you’re all in for studying. Why? Because it was made for students. There are policies against pets and visitors. Therefore, the noise will less likely be a problem. There’s also a lot of amenities, like a janitor to clean the halls and guards to ensure security. There are policies made to create the best environment for students who have upcoming exams and such. But if you plan to live off-campus, try to look for the same benefits that create an optimal environment for studying.

Bottom line

Finding the home to stay in during college strongly depends on your priorities. If you like low-cost places, renting off-campus with a roommate is your best choice. If you’re looking for a long-term place to stay in because you’re looking to live in that town even after college, buying a home is a good choice. If you like to be within walking distance from your rooms and classes, being in a dorm is great.

To find the best home as you venture into a new phase of your life, all you need to ask yourself is “What are my priorities?”