Off campus living preferred among CSUN students

Caitlin Martin

When students move away from home, the decision about where to live is key. Deciding between living in the dorms or in an off-campus apartment is about more than just comparing costs.

One year of living in the dorms will cost a student between $5,000-$6,500 depending on what floor plan they choose, though living with a roommate is standard. Adding a meal plan, which is mandatory if the student’s floor plan does include a kitchen, will tack on another $3,150, according to the CSUN housing website.

The cost for apartments near CSUN varies depending on whether the student chooses to have a roommate, and if amenities are offered in the building.

A studio in Candlewood North Apartments located on Reseda costs about $1,200 a month. A one-bedroom apartment at Meridian Place, also on Reseda, costs about $1,525 a month, according to their websites.The Meridian Pointe apartments on Zelzah and Plummer, cost about $886-$976 a month for a single studio.

Freshman psychology major Terrence Harris, 18, said the dorms are a financial stretch for him because he did not receive as much financial aid as he would have liked, but he does not regret choosing to live on campus.

“I’m glad that I chose to stay on campus regardless of the price, because I am meeting more Matadors,” Harris said.

Living in the dorms could provide a more structured social setting, with events set up by the Residential Halls Association, like pool parties and games, said Melissa Giles, associate director for residential life.

“There is more support, and we have trained staff for academic as well as personal issues,” Giles said.

Rules associated with living on campus could be a deterrent for some students, though, with strict rules on guests, quiet hours and alcohol.

Many students, including junior biochemical engineering major Yenwo Likiteri, chose to live off-campus to get away from the rules and structure of dorm life.

“It gives me the opportunity to take control of my daily schedule,” Likiteri, who lives at the Meridian Pointe apartments, said in a Facebook interview.  “It also permits me to live as an individual in my own studio, thus more privacy in my life as a student.”

The monthly breakdown for the residential halls comes to about $1,053 a month for the room and meal plan when you add up the costs and divide them by the 10 months you would be living in the dorms, though this does not include any additional fees or parking.

But saving about a quarter on living expenses is not the only reason students choose off-campus housing.

“Living here gives me the opportunity to welcome my friends at any time of my taste, without actually having to go through rules,” Likiteri said.

Living among students and nonstudents helps Likiteri prepare for life after graduation, where neighbors will be of mixed ages and lifestyles, he said.

As an older student, business major Amy Hsuing, 27, said she appreciates the luxury of being able to live alone in her studio at Meridian Pointe, not to mention it’s more cost effective than sharing a dorm.

“I like to live by myself better than share a room with someone I don’t really know, and plus (a) dorm is way too expensive (compared to) getting an apartment of my own,” Hsuing said.

Hsuing said she pays about the same monthly to live alone as she would had she lived on campus, sharing a room with one other person and a bathroom with three others.

“Living in off campus is a better deal,” Hsuing said.