There is one principal proverb that applies to everywhere except Stokes lawn: the grass is always greener on the other side. Off campus housing is the purebred Boston College underclassmen dream. With large, unfinished, empty basements, off campus houses and apartments lure vulnerable freshman and sophomores in through glamorous, themed parties. Standing on the brink of sheer adult freedom, there is a complete underestimation of the time, effort, and disappointment once the hunt for off campus housing junior year begins.
It was early August in the summer leading up to fall semester of sophomore year when the hype over off campus house hunting took the Boston College Class of 2020 Facebook by storm. I remember reading through several upperclassmen’s posts who, like trained realtors, marketed their services in posts like “PREMIER OFF CAMPUS HOUSING ACT FAST!!!!!” While my immediate thoughts questioned the authenticity of the term “premier,” I chose to ignore these early bird posts, believing that no one would be deciding their off campus living situation over a year in advance.
WRONG! House hunting starts early, folks. Those “premier” houses, almost always deemed premier solely for their potential party capacity, were leased and signed by the time school started. And it only went downhill during the first few weeks of fall semester. Not only was the competitive BC academics at work, but there was an anxiousness about who might miss out on something great if they don’t sign a lease that very second. Just picture a bunch of ravenous seagulls fighting over some little kid’s sandwich on the beach.
We all know that the BC housing process seeks to ruin friendships and provokes overwhelmingly awkward conversations. I credit off campus housing for offering a wide array of different housing constructs that appeal to both small and large groups of sophomore opportunists. Unlike the Walsh/Vandy catastrophe, there does not have to be neat groups of eight, but no one is too enthusiastic about sharing their living space with an extra random roommate, nor do many extra random roommates enjoy their title as such. There is not and there will never be a perfect solution to organizing a friend group nicely into rooms. Add drama over who gets to have a single room between a group of eight tense sophomore girls and BOOM! Mean Girls cafeteria, cat fight scene.
So, eventually, the lease is signed and a sense of peace should return to the world, right? Wrong again. Introduce sub-letters! Whoever told you living off campus is “way cheaper” than the fairly steep room and board charges BC imposes must have gotten rather lucky in his or her off campus experience. Subletting is a hot commodity and does require some blind reliance on the fact that this group offering to sublet from you still has it together when it comes time to sublet the house. Resorting to finding individual sub-letters only thickens up the tension even more. No one wants to be the only renter who has to pay for the house full-year, but how do you tell your best-friend/roommate you’re not totally willing to split their extra costs of not finding a sub-letter? With the freedom of adulthood comes responsibilities: paying rent, washing dishes, cooking food, and maintaining a clean house come at a cost!
While the walk to and from campus, especially in Boston’s fine winter season, may be filled with hopeless regret, just remember you are living the purebred Boston College students dream (and many of you legitimately cannot live on campus, anyway… BC was directing where you got to live from the moment you opened your acceptance letter!). There is much to be said about the perks of living off campus, otherwise everyone wouldn’t indulge in this lengthy, rather time-consuming, process. Most importantly, there is something to be said about the enjoyment of a home-cooked meal in your very own place. So on that day when you are walking to class from Foster in four feet of snow, bundled up in all of the layers that could possibly fit under your parka, be thankful that there aren’t any rules about having candles off campus.