My husband and I got married in February 2007, when we were still students. At the time we were living waaaaay the fuck out in the middle of nowhere, Alabama, about 30-45 minutes from our university (depending on traffic). The drive was ok, because we were young and in love and just giddy about everything, even long drives, but eventually it grew tiresome to have to stack our classes so that we would spend 12 hours at the university three times a week. Inevitably one of us would have to sign up for a class that met only once a week, like on a Tuesday, and we’d both drive into town (one car) for an hour and a half, just to drive back home. Needless to say, some of those classes were skipped often.
I’m not sure who introduced the idea to us, but we happily discovered that our university offered inexpensive on-campus housing to married students and families. We checked out the apartments, got the details, and were sold: $400 rent (that our grants and student loans covered!) for a tiny place only a five-minute bike ride from school? Yes.
Our on-campus apartment had the same rules as most complexes: don’t paint the walls (we painted one of them anyway), no pets (we adopted a puppy while living there), don’t destroy anything (the puppy subsequently chewed up a corner of the carpet which we hid during our final inspection). It also had the added bonus of quiet time (which wasn’t super enforced, but generally observed during exam periods), and as I mentioned was way inexpensive and close to school. We both got jobs on-campus, got rid of our car, and biked almost everywhere we needed to be.
We were lucky in that a grocery store was down the street, there was a semi-major road nearby with Thai, Japanese, and Middle Eastern restaurants, and our on-campus jobs were sweeeeet and usually meant we sat at a desk playing The Sims (me) or Risk (husband). Basically, we had all that we needed.
Even though we didn’t usually take summer classes, we were able to continue living on-campus throughout the summer as long as one of us was enrolled in the fall. We were both active, full-time students, but there were plenty of couples in which only one of the partners was a student living near us. I got pregnant at the beginning of our last semester, so we didn’t have plans to continue to live in our apartment as a family, but we had a neighbor or two with more than one kid, all living in a tiny 300-square-foot two-room apartment.
There were inspections once a semester, and at our school we were told what day they would happen but not what time. Since we did actually have a pet most of the time we lived there, we would ask a friend or family member to take her for the day. I knew another person who had a pet and she would just sort of shuffle the dog from dorm room to dorm room on inspection day. Most of the RAs were super laidback, and as long as it wasn’t OBVIOUS you were hiding a pet they tended to turn a blind eye.
Overall, living on-campus in married student housing was the best! I would even do it again now, with the two dogs, husband, and kid.