Budgetboost.co is supported by its readers. If you click on or buy something via a link on this page, we may earn a commission.

Save Money with Off Campus Housing

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?


20 thoughts on “Save Money with Off Campus Housing”

  1. 20's Finances

    Thanks for hosting Crystal. It looks like you save a lot of money too!

  2. My University Money

    I would actually strongly recommend the opposite for most people. At least in Canada. I’m not that familiar with cost of living off campus in the USA. In my experience there are far more gains to be had by living on campus your first two years of post-secondary at least. Some of these will show up on a balance sheet and some won’t. One thing I am sure of is that people routinely underestimate how much their expenditures will be when they move off campus. When I priced it out for myself, factoring in all the utilities etc. I wouldn’t have saved any money at all because I didn’t live in the same city I went to school in during the summer months (great summer job opportunities) and lost out being locked into to 12 month leases on apartments. There is no other type of apartment contracts currently in Manitoba due to crazy housing demand.

  3. krantcents

    I think living off campus provides other opportunities to learn how to live on your own. My children lived off campus 3 out of 4 years. They learned how to budget,get along with roommates and school/work balance. This experience was invaluable!

  4. 20's Finances

    @My University Money, that is a great point. Markets will vary from location to location. That is something to consider.

    @Krantcents, I agree. Living off campus forces you to do many things like pay regularly-occurring bills.

  5. STRONGside

    You know another take on this for people out of college would be to invest in college area real estate and become a landlord. My parents did this while my sister and I were going to the same in-state college, for 7 years straight we had a place to live, and now they are able to rent the house out and charge premium prices for students.

    College towns always need places for rent, and college roomates generally make good tenants. I would highly recommend it.

  6. Jeffrey Trull

    I think if your goal is to save money, moving off campus is a no brainer at most colleges. To some degree, it depends on where you campus is located and what the off-campus options are. But I think typically anything off-campus is going to be cheaper than living in the dorms.

  7. 20's Finances

    @ STRONGside, great tips. I also want to get into rental properties. I am a little hesitant about college towns because some college students won’t take care of the property or if no one is living it in the summer and there is major damage that is not reported, it could be expensive to fix.

    @Jeffrey, yes, location the various markets to change the situation slightly.

  8. sophie

    Most people I kmnow in college started out living on campus in the dorms their first two years. After completing their GEs they moved off campus usually with friends. There are a lot of affordable apartments and housing near the campus for students.

  9. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

    I went to school on the East Coast and living off campus was way too expensive! One way to save money is to become a Resident Assistant. Great way to save money in college with free room and board!

  10. Suba

    My sister lived on campus for the first year. But she was also the international student coordinator. First semester, she volunteered for that (she is the opposite of me, she likes to talk and is very social). Second semester they offered her free room/board to do that “job” that she would have done for free anyway. She loved it.

  11. 20's Finances

    @ Sophie, absolutely.

    @Jenna, @ Suba, I agree. It is always nice to find creative ways to save money. Sometimes you have to think outside the box.

  12. Felice

    You bring up such great points to living off campus. The other thing universities do now, is they even put 3 people in a room rather than 2. They figure they can get away with it. I always looked at living on campus as working from home. Some people need to go to a job, while other like to roll out of bed and go to work. Personally, I was more productive when I had to get up, commute and get to class.

  13. Jake Bernstein

    In my years living on-campus, I never evaluated how much I was really spending, as my parents fronted the money for room and board and I used a swipe card for meals. However, once I moved off-campus, I worked with them to develop a budget for me, including rents, utilities, etc. I think it saved them money and taught me how to budge too — an essential skill for every college students. It’s a necessary experience once in the real world.


  14. Off Campus Housing

    I lived in off campus housing my entire four years of undergrad and loved it. It definitely saved money and you tend to have more freedom off campus.

  15. grand valley off campus housing

    Living off campus gives new thoughts. Housing at grand valley is really amazing. The building structure is awesome. I love to live off campus. Thanks for sharing this informative blog. this blog solve out a big problem of mine.

  16. Online Courses

    I think people join the online courses by their lot of benefits not only for to save the money. It also save the time or you can earn the money by doing the job as you save the time.

Comments are closed.