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Living off-campus? Here’s how to survive on a budget

Commuting to and from school is a challenge for a lot of students, despite there being much more reliable transportation options than ever before. Many students still flock to off-campus living for cheaper rental prices and potentially greater access to food and shops than on-campus living would provide.

At Mohawk College’s residence, students have access to Mo’s Restaurant on the main floor and all of the food services on campus like Tim Hortons and Subway, all of which accept student cards and their meal plans.

Taking public transit is the most common way off-campus students get to campus.

For those living off campus, suddenly paying for food and amenities becomes much more of a hassle. These students have to focus on taking transit or driving themselves to school, and although they will likely have more food options, it requires more planning put into what they eat.

James Levesque, a Mohawk student who lives near Stoney Creek, sees both the pros and cons of living off-campus.

“The main benefit of off-campus living is the cheaper rental price,” Levesque said. “I am in a better location to go shopping for groceries and can access transit routes that take me to GO stations, which is a big deal because I often leave the city. That said, living so far from campus can be a severe drawback considering bus routes to school aren’t always reliable and timely.”

Hamilton is fortunate, in the sense that it is a big city with plenty of shopping and food options, and both Mohawk College and McMaster University are very accessible. 

In smaller university cities such as Peterborough, options are more sparse. Trent University is far outside of the city centre, resulting in far more limited food options for those on campus and longer commuting routes for those living off-campus.

Riley Camp, a Trent student who has lived just outside Peterborough his whole life, has had frustrations getting to school his whole life.

“I used to catch the bus that would take fifty minutes to get to school,” Camp said. “Doesn’t help that by the time I got to university, it was even more of a trek to reach campus and made getting there a true pain. I drive myself, but paying for gas is far outside of my budget.”

If you’re a student who’s already living off-campus or planning to, it’s important to know what’s around you and your options to make it to class on time, and to take advantage of your resources.


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