Moving off campus is more than just crossing over an invisible line that marks what is Lehigh’s campus. It comes with new responsibilities like paying electrical and utility bills, going food shopping, cleaning the house and dividing chores between housemates.
While most students who move off campus wait until their senior year, some do move off campus in their junior year because they find it more appealing than living in a residence hall.
Eli Hess, ’17, chose to live off campus this year after living in the Pi Kappa Alpha chapter house last year. He said that while living in a fraternity was great, he found it somewhat distracting.
“I had a great experience (living) on campus freshman and sophomore (years), but living off campus teaches you a lot about how to live on your own without being entirely on your own,” Hess said.
Olivia Conover, ’16, lived in Campus Square last year and described her experience there as a combination of on- and off-campus living. She and her roommates had a living room and a kitchen, but a cleaning service that cleaned up after them.
Now, Conover lives in an off-campus house with some of her close friends. She says that the most difficult part is keeping the house clean and splitting up chores between roommates.
Conover advises students who are thinking of living off campus to think of who they are living with and to start looking at locations because leases are signed very far in advance.
Local landlord Ida Kelenski, who owns seven homes in Bethlehem that she rents out to Lehigh students, said that in her 20 years of working in the area, she has never had a problem with the students to whom she rents her properties.
The responsibilities that come with renting a home prepare students for life after Lehigh. Renters are held responsible for damage done to the house, so students have a sense of ownership and feel the need to take care of where they live.
“Students are not completely alone when they live off campus,” Kelenski said. “The landlords here care for Lehigh students and know the importance of safety.”
The recent release of the CORE report has caused some criticism from students. The CORE report recommends that the residential environment would be greatly enhanced by expanding the current housing arrangements to require all third year students live on campus, as opposed to giving them the option.
“To be honest, I understand why they’re trying to do it but to me it just seems like they’re taking away a lot of the students’ personal freedom,” Ryan Mann, ’17, who has been living off campus since the beginning of this school year. “It seems like they’re limiting the options and as a junior you want to be more independent, you want to be on your own and you don’t want to be sequestered in a dorm.”
The CORE report’s recommendations aim to better the campus safety, social atmosphere and Lehigh experience for all students. However, on-campus housing can be costly to students who are unable to afford living three on campus housing is costly and not every student has the luxury to afford three years of living in a dorm.
“I believe that most people this age have the ability to live off campus, it’s not that big of a difference you’re just in charge of a bit more stuff,” Mann said. “It prepares you for living as an adult.”