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Living off campus

By Kylee Weber, Alaina Burris
On September 3, 2021

Illustrations courtesy of Apple Maps

Kylee’s Perspective:


Living off campus is all fun and games until you see the gas prices. As someone who lives in a different city and commutes to Ottawa four times a week, I spend quite a bit of time in my car. If you are considering living off campus in another city when you are a senior, or over the age of 21, think about these pros and cons. 



  • You have your own space 100% of the time. While living off campus, you have the opportunity to make your home as cozy as you want it. You don’t have to worry about moving in and out of dorms throughout the semester. Another advantage is not having to pack up all your belongings to ship off to Ottawa. 

  • You have a getaway. Being on campus 24/7 can be tiring, especially if you are a homebody. Living off campus and commuting provides the opportunity to escape. This can be to get away and have peace and quiet or simply to get out of Ottawa. 

  • Living in a big city. I currently reside in Overland Park, where I don’t have to drive 40 minutes to find my favorite food like I did in Ottawa. Living off campus gives me the freedom to shop and eat wherever my heart desires

  • Job availability. Living in a bigger city has opened up many job opportunities. I can work retail, in an office or whenever I want to. There are limited jobs in Ottawa, and living off campus has allowed me to explore my options. 


  • GAS. GAS. GAS. I never thought about how much filling my tank up would cost before living off campus. Now I fill up at least once a week. As a broke college student, this is not fun because of the rising gas prices. 

  • Time in the car. Don’t get me wrong, some days I need a peaceful and quiet drive home to be with myself. However, after a long day, all I want to do is take a nap. I have to be in my car for 30 minutes, and by the time I get home, I’m wide awake. 

  • Away from the OU community. Not many people decide to live off campus and commute to school. Over the course of four years at Ottawa, you will make so many friendships. However, living far away from Ottawa limits my ability to see my friends on a last-minute hang out like we do on campus. 


Alaina’s Perspective:


There’s nothing insanely terrible about the gas prices when living off campus in Ottawa. Living within city limits, the farthest “commute” I have is probably going to Walmart. I can lounge around on my couch until 15 minutes before my class starts and still make it to school in time to take a breather before sitting in a classroom for 75 minutes. If you want to live off campus in Ottawa, after meeting the university’s requirements to live off campus, here are the pros and cons. 



  • Not having to fill up your gas tank as often. Since I work in town, and to get anywhere in town takes less than 10 minutes, my car doesn’t eat up that much gas. I think in the last month, I have filled up my gas tank once, even with driving to and from Lawrence occasionally. 

  • Being close to school. Aside from living on campus, residing in Ottawa is your best bet for still being able to wake up within the same hour that your class starts and not have to stress about traffic. It’s easy to find back roads to get somewhere quickly, so just from where I live, I can take about five different ways to get to school. 

  • Being close to the OU community without being fully inside of it. Sometimes you just need a break from what happens on campus, or even from the campus, but you’re still close enough to get right back into the festivities at school. 



  • Having to drive anywhere for non-basic food. Chick-Fil-A? Lawrence. Raising Cane’s? Lawrence. Pizza Shuttle? Lawrence. You know what we have in Ottawa? McDonald’s, Sonic, Taco Bell, etc. -- your basic fast food restaurants. 

  • It’s expensive to live in Ottawa. While it’s expensive to live anywhere, Ottawa seems to have some high-priced rentals, mostly out of the price range of college students, even if they do have roommates. Many rentals also don’t allow pets, so anyone wanting to add a furry friend might have to think twice about calling Ottawa “home.” 

  • Trying to find a job. Yes, there are jobs available in Ottawa, but a lot of them are restaurant jobs; a lot of employers aren’t willing to work with your availability as a student, especially a student athlete. It feels nearly impossible to pay your rent, and you are willing to take anything at that point. 


If you are considering living off campus, but you’re not entirely sure where you want to be, take into consideration the pros and cons of the best place that is worth it for you. Take into consideration who you want to live with, where would be beneficial to you and what pros outweigh the cons. 


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