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What’s the deal with living in a house?

What’s the deal with living in a house?

Living in a house instead of a dorm can be exciting and challenging at the same time. 


There is a daunting amount of houses and apartments to choose from in the area, each with their own pros and cons. If you don’t want to live in an apartment, a house might be a better fit for you.


You might be ready for the freedom and space that off-campus housing can offer, but which option is best for you?


Pros of Living in a House


Breathing Space


First, let’s take a look at the inside of the house.


Most houses are going to have bedrooms, a kitchen and one or more living rooms or common areas. Some houses may even have porches, decks and/or a backyard. So, you have multiple social spaces and room to be alone when needed. 


UNC junior Vance Stiles enjoys living in his house for this very reason. 


“Most apartments have just one common room and you’re always on top of each other,” he said. “But with houses, you have multiple spaces to hang out and do your own thing. It’s never just your room and the common space. It gives you the space you need to live comfortably.”




Parking in Chapel Hill is always a hassle. But with houses, tenants usually have the freedom to park at their house for little to no additional cost.


Apartments may require you to pay an additional fee for keeping your car at an on- or off-site lot. Any guests that want to come over would also need a temporary visitor pass in most cases, which can be hard to come by.


Baylee Roy is a UNC junior living in an apartment complex this year, but is excited to live in a house next year. She described parking at her apartment as “a hassle,” and is looking forward to living in a house next year.


“Parking is easier, and you don’t have to plan ahead to get a visitor’s spot,” she said. 


Less Complexity


Apartment complexes are typically run by large organizations with various properties, employees, and schedules. With this, many logistical complexities arise from living there that houses don’t have. 


Getting in and out, for example, can be a long process in an apartment complex. You might need a key fob to get in the front doors, then walk to your apartment and use another key to get in. Contrastingly, houses are much easier to get in and get out of. 


What about when your faucet is leaking?


Tad Prewitt, a property owner in the Chapel Hill area, said he does all the basic maintenance on his properties. 


 “For the most part, when tenants tell me that there is a problem, I’m able to go in and fix it right away,” he said. 


Cons of Living in a House


With more freedom comes more responsibility.


Houses can be nice, but there are a few downsides that should be considered.


  • The process of finding a house starts very early. According to Prewitt, most students come to him looking for a spot in his houses around April for the following school year. 
  • There’s more space to keep clean. Plus, you might have to take care of your yard as well.
  • Safety is a concern for some people. It’s much easier to get into an unlocked house than a large apartment complex with various restricted entries, staff members, and so on.


Legal Considerations


If you’re sold on living in a house, make sure you pay special attention to the community rules and guidelines set forth by the Town of Chapel Hill. These are rules that apply to all persons living in any house in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.


Occupancy Limits


Commonly known as the “Four Person Rule,” the Town of Chapel Hill limits the number of unrelated persons that can reside in a dwelling unit to four. Violators can face hefty fines.


Noise Regulations


The Town of Chapel Hill Code of Ordinances states that any “unreasonably loud noise, particularly during the nighttime,” which may interfere with neighboring residents, may be charged with a violation. This may include yelling, loud parties, loudspeakers, and more. It’s best to register your party with the police beforehand.


Parking Regulations


A maximum of four cars is allowed on a lot, including parking on the side yard or back yard. Additionally, parking is only permitted in designated areas on the property, and violators will be fined.


For information on other regulations for living off-campus, you can visit the Town of Chapel Hill Planning Department or the UNC Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life and Community Involvement website. 


Moving off-campus is a big step for students. It’s a chance to prove that you’re ready to handle the freedom and responsibility of living on your own as a young adult. Make sure to consider all the pros and cons before taking that big step.



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