Photo credit: Kaleigh Robichaud

Choosing to live completely on your own for the first time is a big deal, and while it’s exciting, there is a lot to consider. Moving off campus could mean cooking your own meals, changing your transportation methods to classes and having a new freedom not often found in dorm life. So with so many choices between apartments, houses, co-ops and dorms, making the right decision requires some serious research.

Students at MSU are able to move off campus after they have successfully completely their freshman year, or have completed 28 credits to become sophomore status. There are approximately 13,972 students on campus here this year, or about one-third of the student body. Similar numbers for students living on campus are expected for the 2011-2012 academic year, with an incoming freshman class of about 7,200.

About two-thirds of the student body is living in off campus residents of some sort, whether they commute or live in an apartment or other living arrangement. So how do the majority of MSU students make the important decision to live on their own, free of the restrictions of the dorms? Some students attribute their decisions to financial reasons, while some say it’s all about the exploring the new found freedom of living as an adult.

Psychology freshman, Courtney Jarvis, explains how a need for independence was the driving force for her decision to live in the Delta Arms apartment complex for her upcoming sophomore year. “The prime reason for moving off campus was the independence, but there are added benefits such as being able to make the food I want to eat, and not having to worry about Resident Assistants,” said Jarvis.

Appealing perks for living in any off campus residence include freedom from authority figures like Resident Assistants (RAs), having more choices regarding students’ diet, locations in close proximity to popular places to study and of course places for entertainment. For many college students, living near local bars and restaurants, fraternity houses and places to shop are high-ranking priorities when selecting a place to move off campus. Jarvis admits location is key when choosing to live off campus.

“Price and location were the most important factors in making my decision to move out of the dorms next year. In my opinion, I’d rather live closer with a smaller square footage than far away with a larger living space. I’d feel distant and more of a commuter than full time student,” Jarvis explains.

Campus Village apartments (Photo credit: Jenna Chabot)

However, with a diverse student body at MSU, not all prefer to be on their own so young and in the mix of the Downtown East Lansing setting that many of the student apartments and homes are in the middle of. Packaging freshman, Sam Savich, and pre-vet freshman, Emily Von Linsowe, rooming together next year in Gilchrist hall, located in the West Circle neighborhood on campus. Savich claims that the dorms still provide a certain convenience that you cannot necessarily find in off campus apartments and other types of housing

“The convenience of being close to class is more motivating to do good in classes. I just love actually living on MSU’s campus. Some benefits of the dorms are having a food plan, having many areas to study, and the proximity to classes and the library,” said Savich.

Just as selecting an optimal place to reside of MSU’s campus is based on location, price and other contributing factors, choosing a dorm to live in for students staying on campus is no cake walk either.

“Since campus is huge, picking a dorm can be quite tricky. It all depends if you want to be close to classes, sporting areas, or Grand River. I am living in Gilchrist and choose to live there because I am always on Grand River. I also think that west circle holds the most beauty throughout campus,” said Savich.

Savich’s roommate, Von Linsowe sees similar benefits to remaining in the dorms for her sophomore year at MSU.

“It’s just more convenient for me and it’s easier to just walk to places. Cafeterias are always pretty close to you as well, which is an added benefit,” said Von Linsowe.

Since MSU has such a large campus and student population, it also offers a wide range of living options. While dorms are home to one-third of student population, including MSU’s freshman, many students look to apartments, houses, co-ops and university owned apartments for alternative living arrangements.

University Village, Spartan Village and Cherry Lane Apartments are considered university owned apartments, meaning MSU is the owner of these establishments and leases them to different demographics of students.

University Village, located on the West side of campus on Kalamazoo Street, provides living space for about 300 students. For students looking for an apartment with similar freedom to living off campus, yet the benefits of living on campus, this is the place for that. University Village offers ample parking (something many off campus apartments unfortunately lack), convenient meal plans suitable for living in close proximity to the dorms, community centers and four large, private bedrooms for each apartment. Sounds like it’s too good to be true? While there are a myriad of benefits to living in an establishment like this, naturally, there are also downfalls.

University Village seems to have all of the convenience, space, privacy and other perks that are appealing to our student body, but one major draw back students note about the university owned apartments are the presence of Resident Assistants, people students often try to avoid by moving into an apartment.

Additional university apartment options include Spartan Village, apartments typically reserved for families, graduate students and single room undergraduate students. Spartan Village makes a great community for people looking for a more serious academic atmosphere and for people looking to expand their worldview right here on campus. Spartan Village offers suitable arrangements for international students looking to acclimate to a new setting.

Cherry Lane apartments as well as Faculty Bricks apartments, originally part of the university owned apartments have been approved for demolition beginning in July 2010, according to

With so much to consider when choosing where to live in the East Lansing or Lansing community, location and apartment/home amenities are certainly factors to explore. But for most college students, living arrangements must be made with their wallets in mind, and budgets become very important.

As recent as the 2010-2011 academic year, living in the MSU dorms cost approximately $7,820 per semester, including a Silver meal plan, which is the smallest meal plan offered of the three (silver, gold and platinum.) This price is noted for a double room and with the smallest dining plan, meaning students seeking more privacy who choose a single room, or request a more filling meal plan, have an even larger bill. However, scholarships often cover students’ room and board, which can help with the pricey listings.

While living in the dorms may provide the convenience and structure many students find appealing, the prices can’t exactly be met with pocket change. Many students choose to live off campus because they find the majority of listings are cheaper than university housing, but there are some exceptions. Properties range from homes, to apartments, to duplexes and townhouses, so a wide variety of living styles often suites a lot of people.

Photo credit: Emily Lawler

According to Jarvis, she is looking forward to living in the freedom of her apartment next year, but still sees perks to dorm life. “The benefits of the dorms are that many of my friends were on the same floor so i never had to travel too far to chill with people, places to eat everywhere, bus stops right outside, classes in my building,” Jarvis said.

As for prices, apartments can range anywhere from $200 per person per month, to roughly $1,500 per month per person, so a myriad of budgets can be met. Houses, townhouses and duplexes are often filled by a larger group of students to compensate for the higher prices.  However, many of the homes and other living arrangements are sometimes still cheaper than the dorms at MSU.

A large property company called DTN Management owns many of the properties near campus including houses, townhouses, apartments and duplexes. With several leasing offices all over campus, DTN is one of the more well-known companies that MSU students lease from, including Jarvis, who is excited to move into her apartment at Delta Arms this coming school year.

Whether you’re pushing a budget, looking for a great location near campus buildings or Downtown East Lansing, or seeking the privacy of a place to yourself, MSU’s campus and the surrounding community has a variety of options for students in a wide range of situations.

Choosing a place to live is exciting no matter if you select an MSU dorm or a place off campus, but one thing is certain, the decision is not an easy one, and people cannot forget what they are at MSU for in the first place.

“Regardless of where you live, you still need to go to class and if it’s not easily accessible…that’s a problem. But I do agree that if you’re a more independent person, you can live more successfully farther away from campus than someone who is deeply involved with on campus activity,” said Jarvis.

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