On Campus or Off Campus? That is the Question!

Only a month in and students are already facing the question: Where am I going to live next year? For some upperclassmen, the answer may be easy, but underclassman like me can sometimes feel like they’re scrambling to find a good option. So let us delve into the unknown, and sometimes expensive: Student Housing.

After about a month of living in good old Angell, my roommate and I pretty quickly came to the conclusion that while we both considered each other good roomies, we missed having our own personal spaces. So what options did we have? Quite a few it turns out…

Our first option would be to head back into the dorms. We could become RA’s, guiding kids through the year and planning activities. And if we ended up with a roommate due to lack of extra rooms, we would get paid for it! You also get free housing and food, which takes a big load off our funds! All around, it was a great deal to consider. However, RA positions can be very difficult to obtain, especially in your sophomore year. We also wanted to try to stick together, as we had become really good friends over the last month. Eventually, we decided we didn’t want to risk the chance of not getting chosen, and looked to our other options.

Our second option was off campus housing. Considering what we could get out of the deal, it was an exciting idea; our own rooms, perhaps a kitchen, a bathroom with just a few people in comparison to multiple… However, we did have several concerns. First off, we’d heard horror stories about some of the surrounding landlords, which was something we weren’t sure we were prepared to deal with yet. We also had to keep in mind that chances are, the buildings will be significantly farther than our current housing in Angell, and as we hadn’t yet experienced the awful reality of La Crosse winters, we didn’t want to risk it being more than we could handle. Our final concern was cost. My roommate brought up a good point: When paying for our housing on campus, we had more time to come up with the money in comparison to having to pay ASAP with off campus housing. We also would end up paying more. Based on the average costs of electricity, water, heating/AC, and cable, as well as how much rent costs on average in the surrounding apartments and such, it would all come out to about $7,350 a year, not including food. In comparison to our most expensive on campus option, Eagle, that’s almost $900 more every year. After this calculation, we very quickly decided this wasn’t an option for us just yet.

So what else was there? Eagle, considering it was three people to a room, didn’t solve our lack of privacy. Yet it should be noted, Eagle is not a bad option for others to consider when looking at housing for next year! You share a bathroom with only six people, rather than a full wing, you have air conditioning, and since it’s so new, you have a menagerie of updated amenities to use and look forward to. It is the most expensive on campus option though, coming in at $6,450 including the Eagle meal plan. However, many current residents I know argue the difference is worth it.

We were starting to get discouraged, but our RA mentioned an option we hadn’t yet considered; Reuter. It’s an apartment style dorm, with our own bathroom, our own kitchen, our own rooms, and even a dishwasher (that was more exciting than I could ever put into words). Coming in at $6,300 a year, only about $300 more than the average dorm price of $6,000, the price was more than manageable. The close price points were mostly thanks to the significantly cheaper meal plan provided, “The Talon”. Considering all this, Reuter was quickly becoming the best option for us. We both love to cook, so the reduced meal plan was no big concern for us either. After a tour, and finding two more girls who were also interested in joining our required group of four, we knew we were making a good decision.

For your future use, here’s a breakdown of the costs and differences over one year:

Most on-campus dorms- (i.e. Angell, Drake, Hutch, etc.)

Housing: $3,600

Meal Plan: $2,400

Total: $6,000


Eagle dorm-

Housing: $4,000

Meal Plan: $2,400

Total: $6,400



Housing: $5,500

Meal Plan: $800

Total: $6,300


Average Off Campus-

Housing *: $7,350

*Does not include food costs, but includes electricity, water, heat/AC, cable


So, to all my fellow underclassmen, consider your housing options for next year carefully. Unfortunately, applications for Reuter are already closed, and many off-campus locations have already arranged their tenants for the next year. However, all other on-campus options don’t open up until spring 2017, so consider the options you have! Talk to friends you may want as future roomies, their preferences, and how they feel about topics that are important to you as someone who will be living with them, i.e. do you keep a clean room, how late do you tend to go to bed, and the like. Do what you have to do in order to ensure you have a fantastic year!




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