Moving from a dormitory to an apartment can be a big shift. One of the most important things to recognize about living off campus is that you may not be surrounded by students. Your neighbors can range from an old retired couple to young professionals. Not everybody around you is a student anymore, so they may not work on the same schedules or go out on weekends. Hey, they might even have families! Here are some simple suggestions to help you get along in campus communities and stay out of trouble too:
Don’t be difficult with your neighbors. If someone is carrying a lot of groceries inside, hold the door. If the family next door pays you a visit and asks you to turn down the music, just do it. Being courteous to people is a basic rule of life, but it’s really important here: these people are probably YOUR first real-world neighbors, now that you’re not living with the parents or just with other students. So remember, be nice, and the sweet old lady across the street will be baking you cookies in no time.
Know who’s on patrol
Campus police can sometimes differ from the police in the surrounding area, and it makes a difference. On campus, police might have been lenient with loud parties. Off campus, let one get out of control and you’ll end up with noise complaints and an officer at your door curious why so many eighteen-year-olds have red cups. School police are usually more focused on keeping students safe, so they’ll let minor indiscretions slide. Police from the surrounding area of campus communities are more intent on upholding the law, so keep that in mind next time turn the volume knob up from 7 to 10 at your party.
Have common sense
If you have to go the bathroom, just go in your own building. Yelling and shouting on the street at 2 A.M. is a surefire way to ruin your relationship with your neighborhood. These are the sort of things that would have gotten you in trouble on campus, and they’ll only get you in worse trouble once you’re off campus. Keep in mind the goals of the people around you: the father of three girls you live next to just wants a nice place to raise his family. He doesn’t want to walk to pick up the newspaper at the end of his driveway and see broken glass from those bottles you threw the night before.
Overall, getting along well with your off campus communities isn’t difficult. Living on campus hopefully taught you how to deal with other students, and living off campus can help teach you how to interact with an even bigger group: the rest of the world.