My first semester living off campus has made me look back on my time as an underclassman, and I find myself feeling somewhat nostalgic. I’d like to think every adventure starts at home and had I lived anywhere else, I would have different stories to tell. All my tales from the last two years began in Mountainview College, and those undoubtedly were the best years of my life. I was fortunate enough to become close friends with my random roommates and, forgiving the abysmal lack of cleanliness in our living space, it was nothing short of phenomenal. But now, living in a house in Downtown Binghamton, I face the question: Is living off campus worth it? (Here’s a hint: Yes!)

Living on campus was great, but far from perfect. The fire safety checks, while an understandable necessity, were annoying. Sure, I could’ve just kept my flammable tapestry down, but the room wouldn’t look as nice without it. Beyond the inspections, the shared space in my dorm was only as pleasant as my company allowed it to be. I can’t tell you how many times I struggled to sleep, serenaded by the sound of smooching in the other bed. These are only a few of many irritants in the dorms; I’m sure you could think of many more.

Like Aeneas’ journey across the Mediterranean, it was a long-embattled odyssey to find a new place to call home. Although UClub Binghamton was fit to replace dorm life, my friends and I ultimately decided that a stand-alone house was financially better for us. The monthly rent I pay now is about half of what I would’ve paid, but where I saved, I also lacked certain amenities (no hot tub in the backyard, yikes). From my brief encounter with house hunting, I found that if you know what you want and what you’re willing to pay for, you’ll find the right home.

I signed the lease last October and spent the following summer in Binghamton doing research, giving me a chance to experience “true” adulthood. I didn’t have a dining hall to feed me sushi at 10 a.m. Instead, I now had to prepare my own meals. It was a learning curve, but the microwave soon became a culinary Swiss army knife. The diversity of my diet has suffered since I moved out, but I manage to eat decent food on a budget. I should note that this budget still affords Chick-N-Bap twice a week, but at least it’s not Cup Noodles every day.

Living on your own also means getting the occasional reality check — a reminder that you aren’t being coddled by the safety net a college campus provides, be it real or imaginary. Just recently, while I was busying myself with homework inside the house, outside, strangers invited themselves into my vehicle. Thankfully, nothing was stolen, but a transgression of this kind is generally considered absent in the college world. While I don’t feel threatened, I now hit the lock button on my key fob twice.

So, is living off campus worth it? One hundred percent. Even in the bad, there’s value in the experience of living independently. Despite being a legal adult since freshman year, it took living on my own to feel like I was one. With the money saved and freedom granted, I have pride in my growth. Had I chosen to live on campus junior and senior year, I’d still make great memories, but nothing beats pulling into my driveway and thinking, “This is home.”

Evan Moravansky is a junior majoring in English.