How to choose between renting a house versus an apartment

College students are often faced with making a crucial decision when trying to find their first home away from home. Knowing the pros and cons of renting a house versus an apartment can be a difficult assessment.

Gianna Consenti

College students are often faced with making a crucial decision. For students who start their higher-learning experience living in a dorm, eventually they are charged with choosing to either continue to live on or move off-campus.  Assuming the student decides to live off campus, the next fork in the road becomes choosing between a house or apartment complex in which to live. 

Kent Property Manager David Shumann has been in the rental business since he bought his first unit in 1975 and has gained a good amount of experience while taking care of his properties and tenants. Additionally, apartment complexes around the Kent area including Holly Park, Campus Pointe and The Province offer many benefits to Kent State students.

Shumann said finding a good house is quite difficult and they’re tough to find in good shape. Shumann discussed the pros and cons of living in a house compared to living in an apartment complex. 

“Cost is probably going to be a factor.  Apartments will probably be more money depending on what size you get, but the house experience is totally different than an apartment complex. The complex might have 250 rooms with 250 occupants or more, with a lot more chances to have a lot more problems,” Shumann said. “Parking becomes a very tight issue – for my house here every tenant will always have a spot, but no guest parking.”

Junior public relations major Hailey Phillips is a Kent State student who lives off-campus near Akron. Phillips moved off-campus for financial reasons, stating there are many benefits to living off-campus as a college student, including not having to borrow money to pay room and board on campus.

“I personally recommend living off-campus because it saved me money,” Phillips said. “I’ve had a really fun experience with being on my own for the first time.”

College students who’ve lived in and experienced an apartment one year and a house the next year have a good stance on comparing and contrasting the two. There are pros and cons to living in a house compared to an apartment. Junior speech pathology major Allison Hughes can attest to both experiences.

“I lived at Campus Pointe last year. I do recommend living off campus concerning having more freedom and saving money. I’ve learned some lessons regarding safety, make sure you’re living somewhere safe,” Hughes said. “But now, I like living in a house better than my apartment experience because personally I love where I live now with living right by downtown and campus. I feel a lot closer to the community as a whole.” 

Kent State has its own club for commuter students with the Commuter & Off-Campus Student Organization. COSO advocates for the commuter population and provides services that it hopes will benefit commuter students. 

“We aim to be there when a student has a question about moving from the dorms to an apartment or off-campus somewhere, we try to direct them to different sites or apartments that would be the easiest or best option out there for them when making that transition,” said Ariel Tarbay, secretary for COSO. “For freshmen, new transfer students and commuters we try to get them more involved so they feel more welcomed and connected at the university.” 

Sophia Kiriakou, COSO community outreach chair shares one of the events they put on within the club to help promote their student organization.

“We just had an event called ‘Warm up with COSO’ where we passed out hot chocolate at the bus stops for students, trying to make it more laid back for commuter life,” Kiriakou said. “We ask people if they were interested in our email and stuff like that.”

“We plan events every month to get more involved and to come and meet new people,” Tarbay said. “We send out weekly emails with commuter tips and telling commuter students where we’re going to be to pass out treats and things of that type. Apartment complexes reach out to us and if any student is looking for a place to live we try to direct them there. We also put on a housing fair in the fall for the apartment complexes to attend and show students what they have to offer.” 

Every apartment complex is different in what they offer their own residents as well as what services they provide. Holly Park is one complex that is filled with Kent State commuters.

“What we offer is a simplified look of what apartments are. If you’re looking for an apartment with space and includes all utilities except for electric and is also close to campus. We are pet friendly, parking is free as well as free parking passes for guests,” said Travis Brant, Holly Park’s leasing administrator. “Laundry is on the first floor of every building and costs $1.70 to dry and wash. Living in an apartment complex, you have a place to go if you have problems. We don’t shy away from issues and we do take care of them as fast as we can versus private landlords who may not have the resources an apartment complex has.”

Holly Park apartment complex starts out at $875 a month total, compared to property manager David Shumann’s houses, which start at $435 plus utilities per month. Housing tends to be less expensive than apartment complexes; however, apartments include many benefits to make up the difference.

“Our apartments are cheaper than living off campus with having the benefit of your own bedroom, bathroom and fully furnished common room starting from $536 a month and the highest being $720 a month,” said Bailey Gillem, Campus Pointe’s community assistant. We are pet-friendly with each unit including a washer and dryer and each month we do at least five to six events for our residents. We offer free printing and paper, free coffee, a study lounge, computer lab and tanning. In renting a house you’ll have a lot of responsibility versus renting an apartment, which is a good way to push you into that style of living being easier for a student to transition.”

As a college student, it’s important to know every option available, as well as to retrieve as much information as possible, when deciding which option is best for them.

“In comparison to other apartment units, The Province apartment complex has free printing, providing a homey feel, as well as free parking and we offer an additional parking pass to visitors,” said Damyyan Eafford, Province’s leasing and marketing manager. “We have a washer and dryer in every unit, our proximity to campus is walking distance, 24-hour maintenance and many resident activities like yoga, grocery bingo, we’ve done a ‘Friendsgiving’ as well. Sometimes I think students may not be aware of how much responsibility actually comes with a house. Here at The Province we take most of the stress off students.”  

College students fortunate enough to have such options will have to make a decision whether or not to reside on-campus or off.  If the decision arrives at the option of off-campus housing, the choice of apartment versus house presents itself. Each student will have to decide for themselves which option suits them best.  The good news is, there are numerous resources available. 

Property managers and landlords are very willing to discuss in great detail the pros and cons of each living situation. Current residents of various complexes are also reliable sources of information.  COSO provides services and support to commuting students, including providing guidance to students making these choices. Whatever the student decides for their college housing, the decision should be a sound one based upon the abundance of available information.

Contact Gianna Cosentino at [email protected].