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At this time of year, college students everywhere are returning to universities from summer vacation and getting ready for school to start.  If you are one of these lucky students, you may find yourself wondering how you are going to pay for the upcoming year.  One important question to ask is whether it would be cheaper to live off campus.  While you may have already moved into the dorm and committed to living on campus, it may not be too late to start looking for next semester or even next year.  I want to look at some of the ways living off campus can help save you lots of money.

On Campus Housing: The Good…

As one who worked as a staff member in Residential Life at my alma mater, I know a few things that students don’t often realize.  The best thing about living on campus at any university is the proximity. It is, after all, on campus.  You can’t beat rolling out of bed five minutes before a class and still making it on time.

The Bad…

If you have lived on campus long enough, you know that it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  In fact, many college students move off campus as soon as their university allows them to do so.  Some of the motivating factors for doing so include: small dorm room, desire to have their own kitchen, getting away from the seemingly paper-thin walls in the dorm, etc.

The Ugly…

Perhaps the worst part of living on campus is the outrageous fees associated with living on campus.  Many universities are making a profit from the fees for room and board.  While they will try to make costs comparable to the going-rate for renting, universities understand the convenience factor that we already mentioned.  They understand some of the additional hassles of trying to find a place to rent or commuting to the university and they take this into consideration when calculating the costs of housing.

Money saved from moving off-campus

When I was in college, I was looking for any saving money tips.  I decided to move off campus because a couple friends and I were able to find an apartment that would save us lots of money.  Even with paying for rent through the summer, we were able to save over half of what we would have paid to the university for on campus housing.

Time to switch? Things to Consider

If you are thinking about moving off campus, you might as well start looking now.  You can often find great places to rent by talking with upperclassmen, finding out where they are renting and if there are going to be any vacancies. Seniors may be willing to transfer their lease to you or arrange with the landlord for you to take their apartment when they leave.  Before you sign the lease, remember to consider the minor fees that will come along with moving off campus:

  • Utilities: Many fail to budget in the cost for utilities.  Some apartments have this included in the price, so be sure to ask. It it’s not included, be sure to take this into consideration.
  • Cost of Commuting: How far from campus is the apartment/house? How will you commute? How much will it be to travel to campus?

If you decide to find a place off campus and you make sure to cover all of your bases, I am sure you will not regret it.  Just think about what you could do with the money saved by moving off campus.  You could put that money towards a memorable spring break trip or do the responsible thing and put it away for a rainy day.

Crystal’s Comments:  I loved my tiny little dorm room on campus my first year but moved to an off campus apartment the last 3 years to save a ton.  It wasn’t as much fun, but $288 a month is better than like $3600 for 6 months…

What do you think about on campus vs off campus housing?