By: Michaela Shifley –
Where should I live? Every year, thousands of college students across the country come face- to-face with this question, and for many, the off-campus option seems preferable. But why is commuting supposedly so much better? What makes being a student nomad so appealing?
Student Kaelea Price (‘16) of Laurel, Montana, said that she made the decision to live off-campus because “of how much money I would be able to save.”
Cost is certainly a factor that many students consider when determining where they will live. Currently, underclassmen housing in Anderson and Widenhouse Halls are priced from $927 to $1,368 per semester, respectively, for a triple room and a quad room. Upperclassmen that choose to live in Rimview pay approximately $2,160 per semester for a standard suite, while Jorgensen Hall residents pay $2,320 per semester, plus a $250 unit deposit. These prices, though, may not exceed off-campus expenses.
Many students at Rocky seem to be of the same mindset as Price. According to the RMC website, of the 967 full-time, degree-seeking students at Rocky Mountain College, approximately 446 of them choose to make their homes off campus – over 51% of the student body.
However, according to Price, commuting is not without costs of its own. “One disadvantage of being a commuter is the cost of gas and the extra time it takes to travel to and from campus,”
she said. For a car that gets around 30 miles to the gallon, the average monthly gas bill of someone driving to and from Laurel every day is approximately $200, less if the student lives within a closer proximity to the school. Median gross rent in Billings was approximately $713 in 2013.
Ultimately, however, more factors than just cost must be taken into consideration when deciding where to make one’s college home. Kaelea’s older brother, Kaleb Price (‘17), also of Laurel, says that, in addition to being cheaper, “there are less distractions from my peers when I am off campus.” According to the elder Price, “A really good consequence of commuting every day is the necessity to create a schedule and stick to it. There is less time to sit around and think about doing homework; I simply have to do it.”
Kaelea Price adds that “commuting to school gives [me] time away from campus, as sometimes campus can become somewhat claustrophobic.” Besides, “my family [also] still lives in Laurel, so living off campus with them was [more] desirable to me rather than living on campus.”
There are certainly advantages for the student nomads and their way of living. In the long run, there may be cost savings to living off campus, and certainly commuting can serve a deeper purpose than just saving money.
Stay tuned for a deeper look into the other side of the coin in a later issue of the Summit: why Rocky students may prefer on-campus living to being a commuter.