How to save money living off campus
So, you want to move off campus? Will living off campus save or cost you money? Start by comparing your college’s yearly cost for room and board to the average yearly cost of rent in the area you are looking to move. Shop around for off-campus housing. Don’t just jump at the first opportunity; seek out housing that meets all of your needs and has a reasonable monthly rent. The more effort you put into finding housing, the better your situation will be. For example, you may find housing where rent includes utilities or other amenities such as parking. Keep in mind that room and board often includes conveniences such as a meal plan, which will most likely cost extra if you move off campus. If, after you analyze the overall costs, you decide to move off campus, consider these tips for saving money:
LIVE WITH ROOMMATES
You do not have the true “college experience” until you have lived with a roommate, but the benefit of moving off campus is that you get to choose your roommate. Having a roommate(s) to share expenses such as rent, utilities, and food can drastically decrease living costs.
USE FREE OR CHEAP TRANSPORTATION
When you move off campus, you often lose the convenience of walking to class. However, many colleges offer transportation that is free for students. Take advantage of this as much as possible. If your college does not provide transportation, city public transportation is the next cheapest option. If you will be traveling to campus every day, consider purchasing a monthly or yearly pass to save money in the long run. If you must have a car, remember that parking will be an additional expense if you decide to move off campus. Seek out housing that includes the cost of parking in rent. If possible, do not drive to class every day; on-campus parking garages and meters often charge very high fees.
BE AWARE OF THE COST OF UTILITIES
The cost of utilities can be shocking 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, electronics, etc. when not in use.
MINIMIZE OR ELIMINATE YOUR CABLE BILL
In many cases, online streaming services have replaced typical monthly cable packages (and cellphones have replaced the need for a landline). You can find episodes of your favorite shows for free on a specific network’s website. Also, if your parents have cable, you may be able to use their account to watch TV online. Consider buying 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. Just be sure to use legal streaming services.
SAVE ON FOOD
It is common to drop your meal plan when you move off campus since the dining halls may not be as conveniently located. By using coupons and shopping at discount retailers, you can easily save a lot of money on groceries. 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.
SAVE ON ENTERTAINMENT
You moved off campus for a reason – more space. Utilize this space and have friends over instead of going out. Also, be sure to take advantage of free events that your school offers such as movies and concerts.
If you decide to study abroad or move home for the summer, consider subletting your apartment to save on rent while you are not there. Scour your college’s classified ads, Craigslist.org, or Sublet.com to find prospective sub-letters.