Most students at U of I will tell you that off-campus housing is the only way to go after freshman year—if you're not already living in a Greek house, of course. Living in the dorms for four years is just not an option for most people, not just because of the “dork” stigma, but also because it is not necessary or financially smart. There are housing options all over campus, and most of them are closer to the Quad than the dorms are—and virtually all are much cheaper This housing generally comes with a parking space and air conditioning. Most importantly, it gives residents the option of hosting parties and offers residents more space and privacy.
Even if you are still sharing a room, you won’t have to wear flip-flops in the shower or eat with 300 other people. Some people might still choose to buy a meal package, but most people are more than willing to cook their own meals for a change. On the other hand, the newest, nicest apartments can be costly. You might have to choose between a cheap, ugly apartment and a chic but expensive one. The only thing you should not settle for is a bad landlord. The Student Tenant Union is there for this very reason. Before you even rent an apartment, you should check with the Tenant Union to see if the apartment or landlord has had complaints filed against them. If so, you probably don’t want to live there. Also, if you do end up with a bad landlord, you can go to the Union and complain. They will tell you your rights and help you with any housing questions.