It’s your senior year of college and you want to start living off-campus. You’ve totally outgrown dorm life and considering moving out. But striking out on your own means being responsible for extra fees that you never realized were included in your school’s room and board. The more effort you put into finding housing, the better your situation will be. Seek out housing that meets all of your needs and has a reasonable monthly rent. Consider these tips for saving money when living off-campus.
Save Money Living Off-Campus
- Live with Roommates: While you live on-campus, housing assigns you a roommate. But you get to choose your own roommates by living off-campus! This will help you to share expenses such as rent, utilities, and food, as well as decrease living costs. Plus, you can do activities at home if you are friendly enough with your roommates.
- Use Free or Cheap Transportation: Take advantage of whatever public transportation your college or university offers, such as shuttles. If your college does not provide transportation, public transportation is the next cheapest option. Buy a monthly or yearly pass to save money in the long run. If you need to have a car in order to get to class, make sure that your housing includes the cost to park in the rent. Avoid driving to class every day since on-campus parking garages and meters often charge very high fees.
- Be Aware of the Cost of Utilities: It might be shocking to pay for utilities when you first move off campus because these bills did not exist in the dorms. You will now have to pay for electricity, heating, water, and cable/Internet. Although it might sound obvious, be sure to turn off lights, TVs, and electronics when not in use to save money. Pocket what you save towards your imminent student loan payment.
- Minimize Your Cable Bill: You might want to consider eliminating your cable bill and use online streaming services instead. You can find episodes of your favorite shows for free on a specific network’s website. If possible, see if a friend can add you to their Netflix account. Also, you may be able to use their account to watch TV online if your parents have cable. Buy an HDMI cable (which can be purchased for only a few dollars) so you don’t always have to watch TV on a small computer screen. You can connect your computer or tablet to the TV with it.
- Save on Food: If you cancel your meal plan, make sure to save money on groceries by using coupons and shopping at discount retailers. Make inexpensive and easy-to-cook meals. Also, pack a lunch, coffee, and snacks for long days on campus. Campus food is usually overpriced and quick bites to eat can add up towards college debt.
- Save on Entertainment: Have friends over at your apartment instead of going out. You should take advantage of free events that your school offers such as movies and concerts.
- Sublet: Consider subletting your apartment to save on rent while you are not there. This is perfect if you decide to study abroad or move home for the summer. Try becoming a host on Airbnb, or scour your college’s classified ads, Craigslist.org, or Sublet.com to find prospective sub-letters.