Dorm or independent flat ... this is the question

Dorm or independent flat ... this is the question

Milan has always been criticized for not offering enough lodging solutions to international students, if we currently look at the studenthouses available, they are most likely owned by Bocconi University, and thus reserved to its students, or they are small and old. They do not offer the facilities and the services that international students are used to get in London and in other major cities.

The situation is going to change dramatically in a few years, as big real estate groups, Hines in primis, are building contemporrary and very large studet houses in central areas of the cities. Wehn this buildings will be put on the market, the young student coming to the city will have to make a radical choice: Do I go to a dorm and spend there my college years, or I choose an independent flat?

In order to help him/her out, we jotted down a list of pros and cons of the two choices to have something to consider when having to take this choice.

Let's start with the new entry, the DORM.


- you can book it from abroad, sending simply the money to an established corporation. No need to physically visiting the rooms

- no need to study/translate a rental contract written in Italian that coudl have special feature depending on the oarticular landlord you deal with

- price transparency, no hidden fees, or taxes involved. The price you pay is most likely an "all-included" one. You will have just to pay for several services on top (laundry for example)

- no need to manage utility contracts and / or internet connection. Everything is offered within the package. 

- no need to hassle with plumbers, electricians or any worker: if there's a problem, you just call the doorman and let him know, of fill in a form that will be taken care of within the day

- you are, willingly or not, immersed in a social life with many friends. The dorms will have several hundreds rooms, you will most likely become friends with people coming from other countries and attending different universities and or courses in your university

- you can easily meet up with colleagues to study together, as the dorms will have large space to study as well as facilities as gyms and swimming pools at lower prices than the ones offered outside

- the dorms will be the only choice for people coming to Milan only for s single semester. This is currently the area of the rental market most underserved. Dorms will solve this issue providing hundreds of rooms for people coming for only the first or second semster

- no need to shell out an important security deposit to a landlord that at the end of the contract could behave in a dishonest way, coming up with damages that are not really there or conditions there were not clear at the contract signature

- parents will be for sure less stressed knowing their siblings are staying in a dorm, with certain rules of behavior to follow than leaving them in a flat where they can do pretty much what they want with who they want


- well choosing he dorm solution has  also cons, the major one being that you cannot have guests. You cannot have your boyfriend staying over or your parents visiting you when they come shopping in Milan. This is the biggest difference relative to the independent house solution

- the location cannot be chosen freely like when you are looking for independent flats. Areas of the city centre like Brera, Isola and Porta Venezia, the most respoected and looked for by international students will not be available as the dorms will be located either in the suburbs or in the Bocconi and Città Studi areas that are detatched from the most exciting parts of the city center. For people willing to live the "real" Milan, with its shops and community life that's a major difference from staying in a kind of hotel in a suburban area

- dorms are also standard in terms of storage space and amenities you can keep in your room. If you are accustomed in having three wardrobes of clothes and shoes, in the dorm you will not have this space. The same is true if you have hobbies like playing the piano or the guitar. This kind of things in the dorm are most likely not allowed


Let's now talk about the pros and cons of the independent flat solution.


- you can invite whoever you wish, for short periods, as guest. If you are alone in the flat, you can have your girlfriend staying over almost on a continuous basis. This is really the biggest difference with the dorms, where internal rules prohibit this

- long term flats, even with the shortage in the market created by the AirBNB phenomenon, are findable in alost all the different areas of the city center

- furniture could be much richer, especially in case of a one bedroom solution, relative to the meagre little wardrobe you'll most likely find in a dorm

- being with a lot of friends around could be fun, but could also be confusing and bring you to waste a lot of study time in useless social activities. If you are not able to cut work time for yourself, the independent flat puts you in a sort of bubble allowing you to do that

- on the lower target of the market, you canshare even the smallets studio flat with a friend, thus making the monthly budget almost half of what you would pay in a dorm

- if you are planning to stay in Milan long term, the contract you have for a flat allows you to stay in how long you wish, much differently than the short term stays allowed for dorms, usually requiring you to still be a student to stay there

- if you like to cook, the flat is the only choice allowing you to have a proper kitchen with hoven and a decent fridge to use. The dorm solution is definitely not for you. This is a trend we are seeing as more and more people looks with deeper attention in what they eat

Flat CONs

- reading our blog you know too well which are the cons of he flat solution, but let's refresh your mind. First of it takes a lot of time to look for a flat, especially if you are abroad and you have to rely on a freind currently staying in Milan to do the visits

- you need to deal with real estate agents, usually not the best professionals to interact with

- you need to pay brokerage fees ... and sometimes you do not have proper transaprency about them beforehand

- it's impossible to find decent flat solutions, at decent prices, for periods of stay of less than 12 months

- sometimes, if the landlord is absent, you will need to deal with damages and workers interventions, like plumbers, electricians and the like

- you will need most likely to arrange a gas and light contract and set up the internet connection yourself

- in general, renting a flat, does not provide the same price transparency you have in a dorm solution. The law authorizes the landlord to charge several amounts that are not routinely written in the rental contracts and are thus seen as surprises when they come due at the end of the rental period


Please let us know if you have more cons or pros to add to the dorm and flat solutions, we will be more than happy to add them to our lists.

Feel free to srite an email to: 

Bocconi Rent: a high-standing estate agency specialized in Bocconi University surroundings