It is not a coincidence that most students feel better about choosing NIU after sophomore year, which is the first year they are eligible to live off campus. Simply put, apartment living is a revelation. The affordability, the ability to cook for yourself, the additional space, and the potential for party-throwing all make renting an apartment a wise move. Good spots include College Park, a townhouse complex, and Lincolnshire West, which boasts reasonably priced apartments and a good reputation among students. It's generally a good idea to get a place near at least one bar so that you have a place to party without trashing your own home. Finding an apartment is not hard with all the management companies in town, but it is important to do your research and to fully vet your leasing agreement by taking it to Students' Legal Assistance.
There isn't much of a downside to getting an apartment, but there are a few things that can diminish the experience. Often, you have to rely on roommates to keep up with bills or face paying excessive late fees, and management companies can be unresponsive to repair requests and will withhold security deposits with little justification. You may also find that you have to leave earlier to avoid being late to class because of the longer walk to campus. Still, an overwhelming majority of students recommend getting an apartment.