It’s that time of year again, the time where students are frantically touring crappy apartments and signing leases that are far too pricey for the value. As winter’s end approaches, the rush around campus to figure out your housing for next year is stressful and frightening, especially if you’re a freshman. Below is a list of some of the pros and cons of living in South Oakland so you can decide whether or not you’re ready to take this huge step.
1. Pro: No more mean security guards!
We’ve all come across them, the grumpy, “I obviously hate my job” type of guards that angrily swipe your card and grunts as you politely try to get into your dorm. They’re cold, judgmental, and rude even if you’re on your best behavior, which is always a real mood killer. Moving off campus takes you away from all those guards and ensures that you’ll never have to sign another friend, family member, or boyfriend into your dorm AND never have to sign them out (obviously the most annoying part) again!
Con: Being further away from campus.
Most apartments and houses in South Oakland are a good walk away from campus, especially if you’re all the way down by the Boulevard. In the warmer months, this is no big deal…it’s actually a pretty pleasant walk! But as winter, and the accompanying 0-20 degree winds, settle on the ‘Burgh, that walk gets a little more brutal and a little bit longer. Maybe you love exercise and the outdoors, if that’s the case then good for you! But if you don’t like walking or sweating under 3 layers of coats on your way to Chevron, then maybe you should find a place closer to campus.
2. Pro: No more nosy RAs!
You know, those RAs that stroll through the bathrooms and parole the hallways to make sure no shenanigans are taking place under their watch. The RAs that knock on your doors when your music is *barely* audible and scold you for just trying to have fun with your friends. When you move off campus there’s no more RAs, no more quiet hours, and no more awkward bathroom run-ins with male RAs. You are on your own to deal with your issues and free to play your music at whatever volume you want!
Con: Having to pay bills and manage money between friends.
This, while obvious, is a big one. Managing rent, water, heat, electricity, cable, internet, and any other bills you might have is a lot, especially when you start to add more people to the house. Money is always a tough subject amongst friends and if you and your friends aren’t mature enough to handle all of the adult responsibilities that come with leasing a property then you should consider living on campus.
3. Pro: Freedom!
The apartment is yours! The room is yours! You can decorate it however you want, with whatever kitchen appliances you want and you can have as many, or as few, people over as you want! You can come and go as you please with ease and you can really make it your own and make it a home. You can throw parties, discreetly of course….you do have neighbors, and have movie nights and play outside to your hearts’ galore! It’s a great big step into adulthood and it’s a super amazing, fun experience to have as you gain more and more freedom.
Con: Lack of AC in the hot summer months.
Fact: Pittsburgh summers can get pretty steamy, especially during those last few weeks of August. Another fact: most, if not all, South Oakland apartments don’t have that luxury that we call air conditioning so those summer weeks that bookend the school year can be hot and sweaty. Keep in mind too, most people, once they move off-campus, tend to stay in Oakland over the summer because most leases are year-long, so you’d be dealing with that summer heat for more than a few weeks.
4. Pro: More responsibility and choice!
With this big step towards adulthood and freedom comes tons of responsibility, which can be exciting and fun! You get to choose decorations and furniture and host parties and do all sorts of fun “adult” things! All this new adulthood responsibility is thrilling, especially at the beginning, and for the first time, you really feel like a grown-up, a feeling you’ve been wishing for since you were a little kid.
Con: More responsibility and choice.
On, the flip side, that big, huge, adult step into freedom brings a lot of responsibility that you don’t get to mess up. If you make mistakes with your rent or bills, or if you destroy that leased property that you’re paying good money for, the consequences fall on you and are very very real. This isn’t a slap on the wrist, it’s money out of your pocket. With great freedom comes great responsibility, that’s the downside of wanting all that freedom at once.
Obviously, there are lengthier lists that can be made that are specific to your needs and situation but these cover most of the basics. If you think that you and your friends are ready for the responsibility, and the fun, of leasing a house or apartment off-campus then go for it! No matter what upper-classmen tell you, there are always properties available for rent, you just have to search a little. If you’re not, that’s perfectly fine too! Pitt has an awesome, 3-year guaranteed housing program and you can take baby steps to that first apartment by living in halls like Ruskin or Panther, independent but not on your own 🙂 Whatever you choose, just make sure you have a safe, comfortable place to study and have fun with your friends!