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5 Reasons to Live Off Campus as a First Year at UT Austin

By Ellen

So you’ve decided to attend UT Austin this fall – congratulations! Starting freshman year is an exciting time, but it can be daunting to think about everything you need to do before moving to the 40 Acres. 

A huge decision that you and all college freshmen have to make is where you’ll live. Especially in Austin–where there’s a variety of different housing options–you have a lot of possibilities to consider.

Read Next: UT Austin Freshman Housing Resources

On campus at UT, there’s around 15 residence halls. However, since there’s such a large amount of incoming freshmen each year compared to the number of spaces in the dorms, UT freshmen are not required to live on campus

This is a huge plus for you since there’s tons of other housing options in West Campus that are built specially for student lifestyles. You have the freedom to pick your ideal living experience!

Whether you’re interested in modern amenities seen at off-campus student apartments or you’re not looking forward to sharing a room, there are a multitude of modern options that will check all your boxes and more. 

At Rambler, we know how vital your living experience is to your college experience, especially as a freshman. That’s why we’ve written this article outlining the five main benefits of living off campus as a first year at UT Austin.

Can First Year Students at UT Austin Live Off Campus?

Yes! Freshman at UT Austin can absolutely live off campus, and many do just that. Like I mentioned above, UT Austin does not require first years to live on campus. Many freshmen opt for off-campus student apartments or private dorms, widely seen in West Campus. 

Where Students Live Off Campus Near UT Austin

Before we dive into the benefits of living off campus, let’s first review the most popular areas around Austin to live off campus as a student. For a more in-depth look at the various neighborhoods around UT, you can read this article on Where Do Students Live Near the University of Texas at Austin? (Updated for 2024).

West Campus

West Campus is the neighborhood just west of UT campus. This is the most popular neighborhood for underclassmen who choose to live off campus. Colloquially referred to as “Wampus,” this neighborhood is the hub for social life for UT Austin students, so you’ll likely spend the majority of your time outside of class in this area. 

West Campus houses most of the new student housing apartments and private dorms. Many students opt to live in this area due to the proximity to campus and the community of students living in the area. For more explanation on the benefits of living in West Campus, read our article on the 5 Reasons Students at UT Austin Should Live in West Campus.

UT Freshmen hanging out at Cain and Abel's in West Campus

North Campus

Another common place for UT Austin students to live is North Campus, which is the area just north of campus. This area is more popular among upperclassmen and graduate students, who opt for slightly older apartment buildings and traditional houses.


Riverside is a neighborhood about 15 minutes south of campus with some student apartments. Since the location is farther from campus, it’s a more affordable option for students that don’t mind commuting to and from campus for classes and extracurriculars. 

5 Benefits of Living in an Off-Campus Apartment Versus an On-Campus Dorm as a Freshman at UT

1. Have Your Own Room

girl reading in bed at Rambler ATX

Most traditional dorms require that you share a room with at least one roommate and sometimes two, depending on the floor plan. In order to have your own room in an on-campus dorm, you’d be paying around one and a half to two times the shared dorm price and more than you would at an off-campus student apartment. In addition to sharing a bedroom, you’ll have to share your bathroom with at minimum your roommates, but most likely with your entire hall in a community-style bathroom.

Because sharing your living, sleeping, eating and studying space for the whole year isn’t always ideal, students looking for a private bed and bath often choose to live in an off-campus student apartment. 

Another perk of having your own room is the additional storage you’ll have in both your room and your bathroom, with dressers, full-size closets instead of wardrobes, and the fact that you’re not sharing half that space with a roommate.

2. Amenities Are Right in Your Building

Resident doing spin class on Peltons in Rambler ATX Spin Studio

Most dorms at UT Austin share campus-wide amenities, such as Greg Gym, the PCL, and the few dining halls. While your dorm might have a few of its own individual amenities, it will certainly be limited in comparison to those offered at many of the student apartments in West Campus.

West Campus student housing properties often include access to on-site amenities such as gyms, spin studios, saunas, study rooms, pool decks and more. 

Read Next: Top 7 Pool Decks Near UT Austin

Having the ability to hit the gym, take a detox in the sauna, and grab a pick-me-up from an on-site coffee bar all in one building can be a serious game-changer for busy students in their first year at UT Austin. 

3. Cook for Yourself

Kitchen in the model unit at Rambler ATX

While a few dorms may have community kitchens, this is not true for every dorm. Even if your residence hall does have a communal kitchen, that will be shared with your entire hall, if not your entire dorm building. 

Most off-campus apartments have full kitchens that you will share with your roommates in your apartment. This setup allows you to cook or bake as you please, host friends and small gatherings, and have the privacy of cooking in your own apartment. If you’re worried about dining hall food or maintaining a healthy, balanced diet after you move to school, having the freedom to cook all of your meals is a great way to control that.

These kitchens typically come with a full-size fridge, pantry, countertop space, and other appliances to cook your own meals. Whether you like elaborate meals or quick and easy recipes, having a full kitchen just outside your door allows you to take more control of your food options. 

4. Stay Over the Summer

friends at rambler atx

Another advantage of staying in off-campus housing is the option to stay in Austin in your apartment over summer breaks! 

If you stay in a dorm, you’ll have a nine-month lease from August to May whereas in an off-campus apartment you’ll have a 12-month lease. For off-campus student apartment leases, most are conveniently tied to the academic school year. Your lease would begin early-mid August and end around July 31st. 

This is perfect if you have an internship or job in Austin or you’re just looking to stay in the city longer. Or, if you’re an international or out-of-state student, having somewhere to stay over breaks can be a huge bonus! Plus, you’ll save on storage or moving costs for the time between spring move-out and fall move-in.

Read Next: Ultimate Guide to Finding Housing Near UT Austin as an International Student (Updated for 2024)

5. Bring Your Furry Friend

Dog getting blowdried in the dog spa at Rambler ATX

Another plus of staying in an off-campus apartment your first year is being allowed to bring your pet with you!

Moving away from home and transitioning to a college lifestyle can be a challenging time for many students. However, having the ability to adopt a new furry friend or bring your pet from home can make this switch a little easier. Pet-friendly apartments like Rambler ensure that you won’t have to leave your furry friend at home when you move to college. (And even if you aren’t a pet owner, you still get to meet all of the sweet animals that live in your building!) 

We hope that this article on the benefits of living off campus has helped make your decision a little easier. For more information about UT freshman living, check out this page designed just for you on everything you need to know about UT housing. 

If you have any questions about living off campus in your first year at UT Austin, don’t hesitate to reach out to our leasing team! We are happy to help in your search for housing!

Ellen | Rambler Marketing Intern


Ellen is a Marketing Intern for Rambler. She is a junior at the University of Texas, majoring in Communications and Leadership, with a minor in Business.

February 07, 2024

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