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Columnist Clash: Is it better to live in an apartment or a house?

A debate on the best living situation for students.
Students have a plethora of houses and apartments to choose from when it comes to living on or near campus.
Image by Ava Weinreis
Students have a plethora of houses and apartments to choose from when it comes to living on or near campus.

Our columnists are here to determine the ideal living situation for students: Apartments or houses?

Isabella’s Take:

Choosing to live in an apartment is a simpler choice than choosing to live in a house. 

Apartments offer convenience. There is on-site staff that can answer your questions and help with anything you need. If something is broken, you can submit a maintenance request and someone comes to fix it. 

Amenities are a huge plus. They can include gyms, coffee machines, study spaces and outdoor seating. I live in FloCo Fusion apartments, and they offer grab-and-go breakfasts on Mondays and Thursdays on top of occasional giveaways. My roommate won a yoga mat.

Moving is stressful, and moving out of the dorms is stressful. Apartments allow for an easier transition because they require less responsibility than a house. When living in a dorm, students essentially just pay and everything is handled for them. 

An apartment is slightly more in the student’s control, but not overtly so. It is a digestible stepping stone toward adulthood responsibility. Not everything is in your hands, so there is wiggle room to make mistakes and ask questions. You just have to pay the bills on time. 

Apartments are also less maintenance. There is less space to clean, and you do not have to worry about getting the trash out on time. 

Additionally, they provide a community environment reminiscent of the dorms. Everyone is living in close quarters so you can make friends with your neighbors. Instead of walking a couple blocks in the rain or snow to a bar or house party, you can slip between floors in your apartment. 

Jasmine’s Take:

I never made a conscious choice to live in houses rather than apartments while in college. It was something that happened naturally because houses offer the flexibility that college life demands.

Most college students have very strict budgets, and the most affordable living option is almost always a room in a house. I am only paying $380 per month for a private room in a house in Como this summer, which cannot be matched when searching for apartments.

Most houses near campus are relatively older buildings compared to large apartment complexes, allowing houses to be rented at lower prices. And the older age of houses does not necessarily make them any less comfortable or charming.

Location also contributes to the lower price of living in a house, as most houses are situated slightly further from campus than large apartment buildings. This distance is a small sacrifice considering the wide variety of transportation options. Biking, walking and riding a bus are all quick and costless.  

Living further from campus also has perks such as more affordable parking. Parking a car at an apartment building can cost upwards of $150 per month while parking at a house costs a fraction of that if anything at all. My current house has free parking behind the house and out front on the street.

Houses are more varied and flexible to suit different students’ lifestyles. Apartment units tend to be cookie-cutter copies of each other, while almost every house near campus is unique in its own way.  

Some houses allow as few as four students to live together, while others enable communities of 30 or more to grow. Students can take this as an opportunity to live with their existing friends or meet new people. Private bedrooms are easier to come by, and every house has a variety of shared spaces that usually feel far less cramped than an apartment.

Isabella’s Rebuttal:

One large factor of upkeep a house needs is security, and the farther you live from campus, the more necessary it gets.

Houses are more likely to get broken into than an apartment building with 10-plus units. 

In the 2022 fall semester, a handful of my friends and I were planning on getting a house together because of the low prices. We ended up backing out because a large number of students left reviews on the landlord’s website cautioning not to rent from him. Landlords require a whole different level of extensive research to make sure they do not screw you over. 

Nevertheless, that same semester a man murdered four University of Idaho students in a house and we were grateful that renting a house did not work out for us. I have heard many scary stories from students living in houses, such as break-ins or creepy men.

For me, the issue of safety is not worth it, as I feel much safer in an apartment. 

Jasmine’s Rebuttal:

The massive scale of apartment buildings does not eliminate security risks. It introduces different problems entirely.

Even though apartments may appear to have more advanced security on the surface, the fact remains that most are too large for anyone to get to know all their neighbors or recognize a stranger, making it dubious whether apartments are truly safer.

Apartment landlords may appear more competent due to the high quantity of tenants they manage, but this makes their relationships with residents far more impersonal.  

Many apartment landlords on campus are known to ignore their tenants’ complaints or rip them off entirely, such as when students sued Identity Dinkytown last fall for allegedly misleading them into paying rent before the apartment complex even opened.

I am also not enthralled by the idea that apartments have a community similar to dorms. My community experience in my freshman-year dorm was so poor that when considering the exorbitant prices, I moved out after just one semester and into a house. 

There is a simple reason why dorms did not even receive a place in this debate — they are awful. I will always prefer the living option that shares as little in common with dorms as possible.

What do you think?

Do apartments or houses make better living spaces? Let us know your opinion in the comments.

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  • Kat
    Jun 26, 2024 at 8:16 pm

    I’m really confused about the logic behind the argument that an apartment is safer than a house because “one time four students got murdered in a house.” One time my friend threw up on a rug but that doesn’t mean that rugs induce vomiting.