When moving to Gainesville, the first thing the school tells you is to live on-campus. For your first year they are right in many ways: Living on campus is easier to set up, it's (often) easier to get to class and it's easier to make friends your age. But I can also argue several reasons why you'll get a better experience living off-campus than on.
Living off-campus is usually cheaper
It's true, living off-campus can actually save you money over living on-campus. Not only are you paying for the convenience factor when living in the dorms but you also are subsidizing the hiked up costs of everything else the dorms offer. Dorms are expensive because they can be. Parents want their kids starting out in the dorms and will pay a premium for that. If you pay for your living situation then living off-campus is a very attractive option.
Parking is easier
If you haven't heard the complaints yet, you'll hear them from me first: Having a car while living on-campus is a pain. Red lots, orange lots, blue lots - don't even get me started on the difference between Red 1 and Red! You have to pay for a parking permit per semester that increases in prices every year. Not only is the price out of affordability for many but there are only limited parking spaces you can actually use! The few lots available always have less parking spots than available.
When you live off-campus you don't deal with this. Many apartments offer parking inclusive and in garages. Some charge a small fee but in general it's MUCH easier. Go to the Gainesville Apartment Guide and click Parking to see which units offer parking.
You have the option of living close to where you want
Living on-campus doesn't afford you the convenience of choice. You often have the selection of only a few dorms that are in an area you don't have class. Or you might only have the choice of living in area of campus that you have no interest in being in. When you choose to live off-campus you can actually select the location of where you want to be including places on-campus you might be closer to like the gym and your classes!
Apartments are nicer
Who doesn't want their own room? The time to get your own room is when you move out on your own finally. Why force yourself to share a tiny room with a shared microwave when you can get your own? And who doesn't want a kitchen while we're at it? Cooking convenience alone saved me thousands of dollars in Gainesville.
As great as meeting like-minded people on campus is, some of the most interesting characters you'll meet may live off-campus. Look out for SwampRental's roommate matching options by going to Gainesville Apartments Guide and going down to the Roommate Matching tab to see which apartments offer convenient roommate matching. Also included in the features is RoomSync, a nice matching service that some communities offer.
The partiesThe Dorms vs. Apartment Communities
You're allowed to have parties off-campus. You can't in most dorms. Need I say more?
Now is it a good idea to live on-campus for your first year? Your first year is a great place to meet first year freshman. Dorms can be a little more reassuring for your parents as well. Since living on-campus allows you access to a variety of events, it's something worth considering for your first year for that quintessential college experience. But outside of that first year, living in an apartment is THE way to go!