Kevin Wu drives 20 minutes to school; he pays $650 a month for his apt. Nancy Clarke walks to school in five minutes, and her rent is $900. Paying for housing is one of the most important issues every student faces. Some students choose to live on campus; some choose to live further but with lower rent. How do these students make their decisions?

The USC main campus is located in downtown Los Angeles, which means students have to pay higher rent if they live on or near campus. According to the USC Housing Office, on-campus apartment rentals vary from $2,040 to $4,700 every semester. Students who live in the most expensive apartments pay approximately $1,200 every month.

One of the biggest perks about living near campus is you do not have to drive to school; instead, you can walk or ride a bike. Or you can live anywhere you want – Santa Monica, Culver City, Alhambra – and drive or take the bus to school.

Jessica Liu, a senior majoring in Finance, lives on Ellendale Place near the USC campus. She chooses to live off campus because she does not like to share a room with others; but she says, “It’s not easy to get a room [and] not to share with others.”

Now she lives with a roommate in a one-bedroom apartment and gets the bedroom. Liu explains that although she has to pay more for utilities and Internet, she would like to choose her own house rather than the uncertainty of being assigned a USC apartment.

Tomiyama Shoutarou, a graduate student, moved out of a USC apartment because “the apartment [was] too expensive, but the conditions and service [were] not better.” He complains that the apartment he lived in was too small. The heater was out of order most of the time in the winter, and lots of bugs made him itchy in the summer. Besides, he couldn’t bear his roommate returning home with lots of friends. As a result, he decided to move out.

Shoutarou says, “I have a larger space and a better studying environment now. I’ll never live in USC apartments again.”

Compared with USC apartments, off-campus housing provides more choices. Kevin Wu, a graduate student majoring in Engineering, lives in Monterey Park. He claims that rentals in his area are much lower than on campus and in other areas. He lives in a two bedroom with his roommate; the rent is $650 every month.

What’s more, he says, “A lot of Chinese food and supermarkets [are] here. I don’t have to worry about what to eat; besides, it is much safer than the USC area.”

Mary Ann Ammons, an apartment owner near USC, believes that students choose off-campus because they have more freedom to do what they want, like inviting friends home, flexibility with planning the space and they do not have to worry whether they can stay in the same room the next semester or not. In addition, there are fewer residents in off-campus apartments than in campus apartments. Take Ammons’ apartment, for example, there are only 10 apartments in the building, and up to 20 people live in the building.

Most of the USC apartments are located near campus in a safe area, and USC authorities have set campus bus stops outside USC apartments that are not located on campus. Students do not have to worry about transportation and safety problems even when they have to go home late. Furthermore, USC apartments do provide better management for the whole building.

Nancy Clarke, a junior majoring in Communications, insists that living in USC apartments exempts her from worrying about opening utility or Internet accounts.

And, she says, “I can get more activity information and hang out with my friends easily.”

Whether you live on the USC campus or off campus, nothing is perfect. Students make the best choices they can about where to live based on what suits them best.