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To Live in Residence or Commute?

Mar 16, 2021

Deciding between living in residence or commuting when going to university can be a bit of a challenge. In my four years at King’s, I had the opportunity to live in residence the first two years of my degree, and commute for the last two. While my experience may not give you a clear-cut answer, it might help you get a better idea of what both options are like. I’m going to talk a bit about my experience as both a residence and commuter student and share some of the benefits and challenges of both.


My first year at King’s, the decision to live in residence was actually quite easy. I came from a very small town about two-and-a-half hours away and I didn’t know anyone in Edmonton, so living in residence made the most sense. I stayed in residence for my second year because I still wanted to have the convenience of being close to King’s and didn’t want to deal with the hassle of finding alternative accommodations.

What are some benefits of living in residence?

  • Living in residence in my first year made it really easy to make friends. Residence is very community-oriented; there are often events where you can meet new people and build friendships. Every night there was a residence assistant in the 601 hangout lounge where you could meet new people and build community. To this day, I am still very good friends with many of the people I met in residence in my first year, and I am so grateful for the experience!
  • There is no doubt that living where your classes are is super convenient. I can’t tell you the number of times that I woke up about ten minutes before class and still made it on time.
  • Not having to cook in my first year was definitely a benefit. The first year of university is a major adjustment; you’re learning how to be an adult and make decisions for yourself. Not having to think about grocery shopping and cooking was definitely an extra burden lifted for me.

What were some of the challenges of living in residence?

  • Sometimes, I felt a bit consumed by the King’s environment. When living there it’s easy for your world to feel like it’s all about King’s. After my first year of university, I learned that I needed to branch out a bit and explore areas of interests outside of King’s.
  • Living off the cafeteria food for a full year certainly came with its challenges. Its easy to grow sick of the food you’re eating so frequently and resort to eating chicken strips for a week. Having a mini fridge in your room can help a lot so you can have some fresh fruit and veggies on hand. You also learn how to get creative and experiment with the different foods offered. I lived off bagels with cucumber for a while after a friend introduced the idea to me.


After my second year of university, I decided that I wanted to live off campus to branch out a bit more. I am very glad that I decided to live in residence the first half of my degree; but living off campus has also been a great experience.

What are some benefits to being a commuter student?

  • While living in residence, as I said earlier, King’s started to feel like it was too much of my life. Having a separate living space gave me distance from that feeling. It also enabled me to have a separate space for school and relaxation. A lot of days I would finish all my work at King’s and then when I got home, I could spend the evening hanging out with my roommates!
  • It would not be right to mention the events put on by residence without mentioning the commuter program and events. King’s has a commuter program which allows commuter students to stay connected with one another. This includes a monthly commuter breakfast in the North wing, and who doesn’t love free breakfast?!

What are some of the challenges of commuting?

  • While I live super close to King’s, I know that the time it takes to get to school can be a challenge for some students, especially if they live farther away. Although my commuting time is quite short, the convenience of rolling out of bed and getting to class right away is definitely missed.
  • One of the nicer aspects of living on residence is that everything is included in the fees. You don’t have to worry about how much water or electricity you’re using. Living off campus forces you to take the responsibility of paying for utilities and wifi (depending on your rental arrangements). It is a bit of extra work in terms of finding a home and getting everything set up. It forces you to be more conscience of your usage which in the long run is really a good thing.

Ultimately, you won’t really know if your preference is to live in residence or off campus until you try one. From my experience, both are great options. Especially if you are a new student and worried about making friends and getting involved, I would recommend residence as a wonderful opportunity which allows you to do so quite quickly!

All the Best,

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