Most of the houses (available today) are within 2-3 blocks of campus

One (available now, which I would dearly LOVE to BUY if it was me, is $35,000 for the house and 3/4 of an acre, and $60,000 TOTAL if you buy the adjacent 2 acres at the same time!!!) But it’s way on the outskirts of town, and I know better than to think it would be room-mate able. That one would definitely be, here’s your college living son, and when you graduate, mom and dad are retiring here.
Food is probably a little lower off campus than on (seriously? $500 A MONTH for on campus dining?)
He’d be 21 by the time he went there as would anyone else who would be roommates. Under 21, the school requires you to live on campus unless you are living at home or with a relative. I imagine (lol) that being the HomeOwner would qualify you as living at home, even if he wasn’t 21.
All good points. I really need to take a trip out there with DH sometime and maybe I can talk him into moving there permanently, in which case, buying a house when DS would be in college would just be “in advance of…”

Are you sure your son is going to choose this particular college?

The countless conversations I had with my daughter in her Junior and Senior years were all for naught when it came time for her to actually “go away” to school. She preferred to stay closer to home than what we originally discussed and acceptance letters, housing deposits etc were all wasted when September 2012 was upon us. If I had purchased a house in the city we had talked for two years about buying I would have been stuck.

As far as being a landlord to college kids – NOT a chance. I can’t see renting to people who I already know don’t have their own resources, very often aren’t working so their money they aren’t earning but receiving as gifts basically. They very often wouldn’t have the wherewithal to use their “gift” money as necessity as rent would require. You might get a deposit and first month’s rent, but then you’ll have to constantly work to get rent the next month. I fear you’ll go through tenants like running water. They also typically have no care/concern for property as they have no vested interest. Their first bout of freedom from mom/dad-all manner of any and everything will be happening in your property, most of which you’ll ultimately be responsible for. One drunken party and one accident and YOU”RE done! I don’t think there is ever adequate enough vetting of college kids. Their parents can be upstanding, responsible, offer to pay you for the entire year and you’ll still have property damage for which they would be unwilling to report to you in a timely or repairable manner. I invite you to visit a dorm during the summer break to see all of the repairs which are done during the “off season”. Then think of all of that as your responsibility.

Now if you have two of your children attending the same school at the same time, that is different. I would buy the house for them (and I’m sure they will have friends couch surfing or actually moving in) but there is no lease there and as quickly as they come, they can go if something isn’t right. Once your children have graduated, you can easily sell your property to the next parent who had the bright idea to buy property in a college town.