5 Reasons to Live Off-Campus as a Freshman at UT Austin

by Megan Mills

If you’re trying to decide where to live as a freshman at UT Austin, you might be feeling extremely overwhelmed. Especially because students at the University of Texas are not required to live on campus, freshmen have a lot of options to consider.

Should you choose a traditional residence hall on campus, or should you choose an off-campus dorm or apartment?

Whether you want to take advantage of the luxurious West Campus apartment amenities or you just can’t stand the idea of a community bathroom, there are many reasons that UT students choose to live in an apartment instead of a dorm.

At Waterloo, we’ve helped hundreds of students navigate their housing options at UT Austin. That’s why we’ve created this list of a few of the biggest reasons many students choose to live off campus.

@waterlooaustinJust a little advice for incoming freshmen!! Hope this helps someone 💕♬ original sound – Waterloo

Where to Live Off Campus near UT Austin

You might be surprised to hear that 92% of students at UT Austin live off campus. First, we want to give you an idea of the three main neighborhoods that are popular among students:

North Campus

North Campus is a common choice among upperclassmen and graduate students. Populated with houses and low-rise apartments, this neighborhood offers fairly affordable options just a short distance from UT Campus.


Riverside is a popular neighborhood about 3.5 miles from campus that is popular with students who are looking to save money and don’t mind being a bit further from the university. While the round-trip commute on the UT Shuttle can take upwards of an hour during peak times, Riverside is much more budget-friendly than many apartments closer to campus.

West Campus

The West Campus neighborhood is located just across the street from UT campus, and it’s easily the most student-dense neighborhood in Austin. This neighborhood is ideal for freshman and other undergraduate students looking to live off campus, as you’ll still get a real college atmosphere where you’re surrounded by students and can easily walk to class and dozens of other restaurants and shops.

West Campus sets the standard for upscale student living. Here, you’ll find luxurious apartments with modern finishes and unbeatable amenities designed specifically to meet the needs of students. These apartments feature on-site study rooms, fitness centers, rooftop pools, and more. There are also a number of off-campus dorms and dozens of Greek sorority and fraternity houses in West Campus. For the freshman looking to get involved and start off your college experience on the right foot, West Campus puts you at the center of it all.

5 Benefits of Living in an Apartment Versus a Dorm as a Freshman at the University of Texas

1. Cook for Yourself

When living in a dorm, you’re limited to a microwave and mini fridge in your room. This means you’ll likely be heading to the dining hall or eating out for most meals. However, off-campus apartments offer a full kitchen! When you’re able to cook for yourself, you’re not confined to dining hall food selections or restricted to the hours that it’s open.

If you enjoy cooking, baking, or entertaining friends, having your own kitchen in your apartment is a major plus. A full-size pantry, fridge, and other appliances give you the opportunity to explore recipes beyond what you might find in a traditional dining hall.

The spacious, fully-equipped kitchen in the Joule 4×4 floor plan at Waterloo.

Whether you enjoy making elaborate meals or prefer to keep it simple, having an apartment with a kitchen puts you in control of what you eat every day.

2. Have Your Own Room

Most dorms are double occupancy, meaning you share a bedroom with a roommate. As for the bathrooms, most dorms at UT have communal restrooms, meaning you’ll head down the hall to access it. Some residence halls have suite-style rooms, meaning you and your roommate share a bathroom with another set of roommates (meaning four people to one bathroom). Lastly, a few dorms offer private bathrooms that only you and your roommate share.

Read Next: 8 Steps to Finding the Perfect Apartment Near UT Austin

Single-occupancy dorm rooms do exist, but they’re extremely limited, significantly more expensive than a traditional room, and it’s possible that you’ll still share a bathroom.

It’s a big deal to commit to living, eating, and sleeping in the same room as someone else for a year. Especially because a dorm typically won’t have a kitchen or living area, you don’t get much of your own space. However, in an apartment, you have a full kitchen, living room, and your own bedroom.

A private bathroom in Waterloo with modern finishes and ample counter space that you can have all to yourself.

In addition to having your own bedroom in an apartment, you can also get your own bathroom. Many off-campus apartments have the option to share a bathroom with one other person if you’re looking to save a bit of money, but you can still get your own room! There’s no need to worry about lugging around a shower caddy, walking down the hall in your robe, or waiting for a shower stall to open. Say goodbye to community bathrooms; when you have a space completely to yourself, you can forget the shower shoes!

Another plus of having your own room is the increased storage. You don’t have to share precious closet space or give half of the shelves to your roommate.

My personal favorite part of living in an apartment is the bed size. Compared to the twin-sized bed you’ll find in a UT dorm room, the full-sized bed you get in an apartment is so much more comfortable!

Do you really value your own space? You may want to look into studio options, where you’ll get the whole apartment to yourself. Here at Waterloo, we have two studio floor plans: the Ivy and the Moxy. If you choose to live in a unit by yourself, you have complete freedom over how your space is decorated and arranged. You also don’t have to worry about finding a roommate or doing roommate matching.

3. Bring Your Furry Friend

Some apartments in West Campus, including Waterloo, are pet-friendly!

If you don’t want to leave your pet at home, choosing to live in an apartment means you can bring your furry friend with you. Even if you aren’t a pet owner, you get to meet the sweet pets that live in your building.

4. Stay During Breaks

Unlike a dorm, apartment buildings don’t close over breaks!

This is a huge bonus if you work or have an internship in Austin and need to stay near campus during winter break or over the summer. Additionally, if you’re an international or out-of-state student and can’t travel home during the holidays, there’s no need to stress about where you can stay!

5. Amenities are Right in Your Building

UT’s dorms don’t generally have amenities on site. You’ll have to make your way to Gregory Gym to fit in a workout, and you definitely won’t have a rooftop pool.

Read Next: 6 Best Pools in West Campus Near the University of Texas at Austin

When you live in an apartment, you don’t have to worry about walking across campus to do the things you love. With a full suite of amenities located all under one roof, almost anything you could need is only an elevator ride away!

At Waterloo, you don’t even need to leave the building to hit the gym, study in a quiet room, lounge by the pool, or grab a cup of Daydreamer coffee.

Waterloo’s in-lobby coffee shop, Daydreamer coffee, operated by attentive staff who are excited to serve and get to know residents.

Overall, living in an off-campus apartment can be one of the most exciting experiences during your time on the Forty Acres. If you have any other questions during your housing search, contact the Waterloo team who is always happy to help!